What is the Difference Between Assault and Aggravated Assault?

May 10, 2021 Criminal Defense

Assault and aggravated assault, sometimes called felony assault, are often paired together and sometimes mistaken for one another.  However, they are two separate and distinct crimes under Arizona state law.  

Assault is an all-encompassing term used to describe simple assault, which is a lesser crime than aggravated assault. 

Aggravated assault involves a more serious attack and a potentially “aggravating factor” that places it into the more severe category of crimes and punishments.  

Aggravating factors may include any of the following and more:

  • The assault causes serious physical injury or substantial disfigurement to another person;
  • The alleged offender used a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument to intentionally place somebody in imminent fear of serious physical injury;
  • The assault causes temporary but substantial disfigurement or fracture; 
  • The alleged offender committed an ordinary assault on a public servant, such as a police officer, teacher, prosecutor, hospital staff, or prison guard;
  • The victim is restrained or captive;
  • The perpetrator is an adult, and the victim is a child fifteen years old or younger; and
  • The assault is committed after entering the private home of someone.


Classes of and Punishment for Simple Assault

Simple assault has no aggravating factor(s).  There are three classes of simple assault, all of which are misdemeanors. 

These are the following:

  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing physical injury to another person.  This is a class one misdemeanor assault when committed intentionally and a class two misdemeanor assault when committed recklessly;
  • Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical danger.  This is a class two misdemeanor assault; and
  • Knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult, or provoke that person.  This is a class three misdemeanor assault.

A class one misdemeanor assault is punishable by up to $2,500 in fines, six months in jail, and thirty-six months of probation, along with advisable court sanctions. 

A class two misdemeanor assault carries up to $750 in fines, four months in jail, and/or twenty-four months of probation. 

A class three misdemeanor assault has a maximum fine of $500, up to thirty days in jail, and/or twelve months of probation.

Classes of and Punishment for Aggravated Assault           

Aggravated assault is more deadly than a misdemeanor or simple assault.  The penalties for aggravated assault also depend on its class designation. 

The range of punishment for aggravated assault is as follows:

  • Class two: Incarceration from seven to twenty-one years, with a presumptive term of ten and a half years;
  • Class three:   Incarceration up to fifteen years, with a presumptive term of seven and a half years;
  • Class four:  Incarceration of four to eight years, with a presumptive term of six years;
  • Class five:  Prison term of two to four years, with a presumptive term of three years; and
  • Class six:  Prison term of eighteen months to three years, with a presumptive term of twenty-seven months.

In addition to incarceration, aggravated assault carries a potential of fines up to $150,000, mandatory probation, community service, and restitution.

If you would like to know more about how a judge determines sentencing in a simple assault or an aggravated assault or how the facts of your case apply to Arizona’s laws on assault, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Phoenix.  

At Younglove Law Firm, our knowledgeable legal team will provide you with the competent and practical legal advice you need. 

We are committed to working with you to ensure you understand all aspects of your criminal case and any consequences related to your available legal options.  


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