When an Assault Becomes an Aggravated Assault
Aggravated assault is a more egregious type of assault which means that the state needs to first prove the elements of an assault before they can convict an individual for aggravated assault. The aggravating factors that make an offense an aggravated assault instead of an assault are that the individual used a dangerous weapon as part of the assault or they used some other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.
The statutes language of dangerous weapon is a bit vague on its own but it has been more specifically defined in the criminal code as:
- any item capable of causing death or serious bodily injury; or
- a facsimile or representation of the item, if:
- the actor’s use or apparent intended use of the item leads the victim to reasonably believe the item is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury; or
- the actor represents to the victim verbally or in any other manner that he is in control of such an item.
Although the language above does help define dangerous weapon to some degree it is still very broad and it really focus more on the use of the item instead of the item itself. The most obvious dangerous weapons are items like firearms and knifes, however, based on the definition above a toy gun could also be a dangerous weapon if the actor states to the victim that it is a real gun.
Other Means or Force
The other way an individual commits aggravated assault is “other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.” This is basically the catch all statement in the criminal statute to make sure that the legislature hasn’t missed something and to allow the prosecution to charge an aggravated assault when they think that it rises to the aggravated level but don’t necessarily have the facts to support the dangerous weapon requirement. It’s impossible to go over all the different fact patterns that could be included under this prong of aggravated assault but just know that if you are charged with an aggravated assault and you didn’t have a weapon then the prosecutor is attempting to use this language of the statute to find you guilty of an aggravated assault.
As with all aggravated offenses, aggravated assault is considered much more severe than simple assault and as such it is normally charged as a third degree felony unless serious bodily injury is actually caused and then it is a second degree felony. Normally a simple assault charge is a class B misdemeanor so adding the aggravated is a pretty serious jump and so it is important that you hire an attorney to help protect your rights and to fight against the aggravated arguments. The difference between a class B misdemeanor and a 3rd degree felony is 6 months in jail and 0-5 years in prison so clearly an aggravated assault is not something you should try and handle on your own. At Criminal Defense Attorney Salt Lake City we offer free consultations and can help you get the answer you are looking for and let you know how we could help you in your case, so call us today.