Protected Classes in Aggravated Assault Cases

Aggressive Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer Defending Clients Charged With Violent Crimes Throughout Maricopa County

In Arizona, aggravated assault is a serious felony crime that can carry a lengthy prison sentence if you’re convicted. And while most people assume that you can’t get charged with aggravated assault unless you use a weapon or actually hurt someone, that isn’t the case under Arizona law. In fact, under A.R.S. 13-1204, you can actually end up facing felony aggravated assault charges based on a misdemeanor assault committed against a protected individual. Therefore, if you face aggravated assault charges, it is imperative that you understand the various protected classes in aggravated assault cases.

At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we have more than 25 years of experience aggressively defending our clients from the life-changing consequences of a criminal conviction. We’ve successfully resolved countless assault cases on behalf of our clients, enabling them to move on with their lives without adding a conviction to their record.

Arizona’s Assault and Aggravated Assault Laws

In Arizona, the crime of misdemeanor assault includes any of the following:

  1. Intentionally or recklessly injuring another person;
  2. Intentionally putting someone else in fear of imminent physical injury; or
  3. Knowingly touching another person to injure, insult or provoke them.

Arizona’s aggravated assault statute is less straightforward because there are eleven different ways of committing the crime. One of the lesser-known sub-sections of Arizona’s aggravated assault statute provides that it’s an aggravated assault to commit an assault against someone that you know or should have known was a member of a protected class.

What Are the Protected Classes in Aggravated Assault Cases?

Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1204(8) outlines each of the protected classes in aggravated assault cases, which include:

  • Police officers and peace officers;
  • Constables;
  • Firefighters, emergency medical technicians (“EMT”) or paramedics;
  • Teachers, school nurses or other employees of a public or private school;
  • Healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses.
  • Prosecutors;
  • Code enforcement officers;
  • State or municipal park rangers;
  • Public defenders; and
  • Judges and other judicial officers.

Of course, for the protected-class enhancement to apply, the prosecution must prove both of the following:

  • You knew or should have known that the person was a member of a protected class; and
  • The alleged victim was in the process of carrying out their official duties at the time of the assault.

For example, it isn’t necessarily an aggravated assault to commit an assault against an off-duty firefighter; it’s only if the firefighter is acting as a police officer that the enhancement applies. The only exception to this is police officers; the fact that an officer was off-duty is not a defense against assaulting a police officer.

Punishments for Aggravated Assault Against a Member of a Protected Class

A conviction for committing an aggravated assault against a member of a protected class is typically considered a class 6 felony. A class 6 felony carries a presumptive prison sentence of one year, assuming you don’t have any prior felony convictions. However, if an assault against a prosecutor results in physical injury, the offense is considered a class 5 felony.

Additionally, it is important to note that prosecutors may charge you under multiple subsections of the aggravated assault statute. For example, if you used a deadly weapon to commit an assault against a firefighter, you could be charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in addition to aggravated assault against a protected class member.

Have You Been Charged With Aggravated Assault in Maricopa County?

If you are confused why you have been charged with aggravated assault when no one was hurt, and you weren’t using a weapon, chances are the offense was considered an aggravated assault based on who the victim was. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we have decades of experience helping good people get out of bad situations. We understand that there is always more to the story than what the prosecutor knows, and we’re here to help get your side of the story heard. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Novak today, call 480-413-1499. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.

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