www.attorneyyellowpages.com - Attorney Yellow Pages
Posted 09/27/2022 in Criminal Defense by Colin Bell

Vehicular Aggravated Assault - What You Need to Know

If you have been accused of vehicular aggravated assault in Arizona, your life is about to change. No matter what the circumstances were that resulted in the person’s injury, you need to get the best possible legal defense—as soon as possible. 

It may be hard to believe that a car accident could have such a dramatic impact—especially if everyone involved recovered from their injuries. So let’s review some of the issues to understand why a solid legal defense is vital.

Elements of a Vehicular Aggravated Assault 

Under Arizona law, someone perpetrates assault if they knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly cause someone else to be physically injured. They also can commit assault if they do something with the goal being that someone reasonably believes that they are at imminent risk of injury—even if they aren’t hurt—i.e., the victim’s fear of getting hurt is enough to qualify as an assault. 

Thus to get a conviction, a prosecutor must prove that a defendant:  

  • Knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly caused
  • Another person 
  • To be injured or believe they were about to be injured 

An aggravated assault is an assault that satisfies those elements, but the law considers certain types of assault as being so egregious that they warrant more serious punishment. 

An assault involving a car or other motor vehicle is charged as a vehicular aggravated assault because driving the vehicle is considered to be using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument (i.e., the vehicle) that caused the injury. 

Therefore, for a vehicular aggravated assault, the prosecutor must prove that the accused was driving in a knowing, intentional, reckless way that caused someone’s injury or created the fear they would be injured. 

The standard for reckless driving can be met by factors such as driving more than 20 miles faster than the posted speed limit, tailgating, weaving in traffic, illegal passing, and evading the police. 

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be considered reckless driving for an aggravated assault charge. DUI is a serious charge in Arizona, and DUI as a factor in an aggravated vehicular assault can ramp up the consequences considerably.

Other Conditions for Aggravated Assault 

While using a vehicle is enough for an aggravated assault charge on its own, other aspects of the aggravated assault statute may be relevant in a specific case.  

In some cases, an assault is elevated to an aggravated assault when a victim has sustained serious physical injury. Aggravated assault can be charged if the victim has temporary disfigurement or if they have impairment or fracture of any body organ or part. 

Additionally, assault charges may be elevated because public policy is concerned about the well-being of certain categories of victims:  

  • A minor under the age of 15 who is assaulted by an adult (over the age of 18) 
  • Someone who is under an order of protection against the assailant
  • Police, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders while exercising their official duties

Penalties for a Vehicular Aggravated Assault Charge

Committing an aggravated assault with a dangerous instrument (again, the vehicle is the dangerous instrument) is a class three felony in Arizona. 

A defendant alleged to have committed a first vehicular aggravated assault could face a prison sentence of at least five years, with a maximum sentence of 15 years. 

For a second conviction, the sentence increases to 10 to 20 years in prison, while a third conviction would result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years, with a possible maximum sentence of 25 years. 

Sentencing can also be impacted by other factors, such as the assault of minors under the age of 15 results in a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years. 

How an Attorney Can Help You with Vehicular Aggravated Assault Charge

Arizona considers vehicular aggravated assault a particularly serious and dangerous crime. As serious as a vehicular aggravated assault charge is, it’s always important to remember that a charge is not a conviction. You can successfully defend your case in court.

Your legal strategy will depend on the specific facts in your case. For example, you may prove that the alleged victim was not seriously injured, or if the alleged victim was a first responder, that they were not working in their official capacity at the time of the incident.

Other defenses may defeat the prosecutor’s claim that you intended to use the car to injure someone. For instance, some defendants may show that the person’s injuries were not caused by any intentional or reckless behavior. Instead, they were caused by an intervening factor—such as a car’s mechanical defect or a dangerous road condition.  

While developing an appropriate legal strategy for trial, your attorney may also be able to negotiate a plea bargain for a reduced charge or other consideration that could substantially impact your case’s outcome. 

Colin Bell is a DUI and Criminal Defense  attorney in Phoenix, Arizona. He is Of-Counsel with Stewart Law Group with offices throughout Arizona. The firm has helped many clients navigate the legal complexities of DUI and criminal defense.  

Posted By

Colin Bell

Contact Lawyer
View Phone Number
View Profile


View On Larger Map

Related Posts

What Rights Do I Have After I'm Arrested?
Felony DUIs in Arizona
Arizona DUI Laws
Unlawful Discharge of a Weapon
Arizona Expungements— Changing Laws to Change Lives