Phoenix Vehicular Assault Lawyer
Arizona law does not include a specific law making vehicular assault a crime. However, you can be charged with aggravated assault if you use a vehicle and cause an injury to another person intentionally or recklessly.
There are two statutes that may be applicable in a case of vehicular assault. The first, A.R.S. 13-1203, states that it is a misdemeanor:
- To cause an injury knowingly or recklessly to another person (class 1 misdemeanor); or
- To intentionally place someone in reasonable fear of imminent physical injury (class 2 misdemeanor); or
- To knowingly touch another person intending to insult, injury or provoke that person (class 3 misdemeanor).
These offenses are often referred to as simple assault. Vehicular assault cases, however, are generally charged as aggravated assault under A.R.S. 13-1204, which is a felony.
If you have been charged with vehicular assault, call The Feldman Law Firm for a free consultation.
What is Vehicular Aggravated Assault in Arizona?
The differences between simple assault (described above) and aggravated assault are significant. Those differences can include many items, including the severity of the injury, or the use of a dangerous instrument or a deadly weapon. A “dangerous instrument” includes anything which, given the surrounding circumstances in which it is used (or threatened to be used) could cause death or a serious physical injury. The phrase “serious physical injury” includes any injury that causes permanent disfigurement, serious health impairment, permanent disfigurement, or protracted impairment of a limb or bodily organ.
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Obviously, serious physical injuries to the alleged victim could lead to an aggravated assault charge provided the other elements of the offense are also present. But in the case of a motor vehicle, the presence of a serious injury is not necessarily an element of the charge of aggravated assault. The reason is simple: A car, truck or other motor vehicle, if used recklessly or intentionally in an attempt to strike another vehicle or pedestrian, will be considered by the prosecution to be a dangerous instrument within the meaning of the aggravated assault law.
Classification and Penalties for Vehicular Aggravated Assault
If you are charged with aggravated assault for the intentional or reckless use of a vehicle, you could be charged with a class 2 or class 3 felony. If this is your first felony offense, that means you could be facing a presumptive sentence of at least several years in prison. While there may be mitigating circumstances which could lead to a lighter sentence, the point is that aggravated assault with a vehicle is a serious charge, and you will want an experienced criminal defense lawyer for your defense.
Defenses to Vehicular Aggravated Assault
There are a number of possible defenses to a charge of aggravated assault involving a vehicle. Here are some examples:
- Lack of Intentional or Reckless Conduct. Always remember that is the obligation of the prosecution to prove every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to be convicted of aggravated vehicular assault, there must be proof of reckless or intentional acts on your part leading. Without that intentional or reckless behavior, there generally will be no sustainable aggravated assault charge. It must be intentional or reckless, to the degree that you were aware of a significant risk of injury, and that you consciously disregard that risk. Mere negligence will not suffice.
- Lack of Causation. Many of these cases involve DUI. The defense may consist of challenging the claim that you were driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs or challenging the allegation that you were engaged in some other behavior which was determined to be reckless. Even if you were intoxicated within the meaning of the DUI laws, or engaged in other reckless acts, that, in and of itself, is not enough to prove aggravated vehicular assault. If, for example, you had a blood alcohol content of 0.08, and were therefore in violation of the DUI law, the prosecutor must still prove causation, i.e., that your actions were the cause of the collision, injury, etc. For example, if you were sitting at a red light, went into the intersection after it turned green in your favor, and were broadsided by another car which ran a red light, you are not guilty of aggravated assault, or any assault for that matter. The cause of the accident was not your actions, there was no reckless or intentional behavior on your part, and the accident/injury was caused by the actions of the other driving, who ran the red light.
Other defenses may apply, depending upon the circumstances of your case.
Vehicular Assault Attorney in Phoenix, AZ
If you are charged with aggravated assault involving a vehicle, you are facing a serious felony charge. You need to make sure that all avenues of your defense are covered. We will fight for a dismissal or a not guilty verdict, if possible. Short of that, a reduction in the charge (from a felony to a misdemeanor) may be possible. For an honest assessment of your case by an experienced criminal defense lawyer, call us for a free consultation.