Aggravated Assault is a very serious offense in Utah that the prosecutor can charge as a third, second, or even first degree felony. The legislature has set up this criminal offense so that multiple different actions could result in a conviction. This crime has two main components that are broken down into the two words that represent it, aggravated and assault.
The first thing you need to understand about aggravated assault is, what is an assault? An assault includes three different forms of conduct: an act, an attempt, and a threat. When an individual combines this conduct with unlawful force or violence then you have an assault. So for an example if a person punches another person, then that is an assault. The act is the push, and so is the unlawful force or violence. However, if the individual tries to punch someone, but misses. Then they have committed an assault, because they attempted to use unlawful force or violence. Finally, the threat conduct requires an additional fact and that is an immediate show of force. So if the same individual says, “I’m going to punch you in the face” and then gets up close, takes a stance, and closes their fists; then they have committed an assault.
Additionally, its important to note, that the violence required for an assault is much lower than most would assume. For example, many assault charges are based on pushing, or grabbing.
There are two types of assaults under criminal law, a simple assault (as discussed above) and an aggravated assault. There are a copy of facts that could accompany an assault that turn it into an aggravated assault. The first factor is a dangerous weapon. If the defendant commits an assault with a dangerous weapon, then it is now an aggravated assault. The legislature has defined dangerous weapon in the Utah code but as with most law this definition can often be debated. For example, there are some items that are clearly dangerous weapons, such as a gun. However, other items become dangerous weapons depending on their use, such as a frying pan.
The next aggravating factor, is the damage that the actor could likely cause with their action. Meaning if the individuals action could cause death or serious bodily injury then they have committed an aggravated assault. So for example kicking someone in the thigh might not be death or serious bodily injury but stopping on their head may be. Additionally, the Utah legislature has recently included specific language in the statute that makes choking an aggravated assault.
As previously stated the prosecutor can charge aggravated assault as either a third, second, or first degree felony. Each level of offense requires a different fact pattern. The lowest level of offense, the third degree felony, is if there are no other special circumstances. So if the prosecutor can prove assault, and the aggravating factor, then it is a third degree felony. If the individual causes serious bodily injury, then that is a second degree felony. Additionally, if the individual causes a loss of consciousness through choking, it is a second degree felony. Finally, if the individual directs their conduct at a law enforcement officer, then it is a first degree felony.
Obviously aggravated assault is a very serious offense. If you are convicted you could be facing serious prison time. There is no reason not to at least talk to an attorney about your case and see if you can afford professional help or not. Give me a call today and get your questions answered.