April 5, 2011

Facing Aggravated Assault Charges in Utah?

Salt Lake City Aggravated Assault Lawyer

Contact an aggravated assault lawyer at Utah Defenders.

A simple assault can become an aggravated assault if you use a dangerous weapon such as a knife.

If you have charges pending against you for the violent crime known as aggravated assault you are probably aware that you are facing serious jail time, restitution, and other consequences.  That is why you get Utah Defenders on your side.  Our criminal defense trial attorneys understand that things are not always as they seem and that chances are you were acting in self defense.

We conduct a thorough investigation of your case to determine how best to defend you.  If you were acting in self defense the prosecutor has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt not only that you committed the crime, but that you were NOT acting in self defense.  Let our experience work to your advantage so that we can protect your rights and individual liberty.

How Does Aggravated Assault Differ from Simple Assault?

Generally speaking, simple assault is when one person causes bodily injury to another person.  Assault can occur in domestic violence situations, school ground fist fights, and many other situations.

Aggravated assault is more serious because it typically involves means or force that is likely to result in death or serious bodily injury or the use of a dangerous or deadly weapon.  The problem is that for purposes of aggravated assault anything can be classified as a deadly or dangerous weapon.  It is not limited to guns and knives.  For example, if someone were to pick up a skateboard, a chair, or a computer and use it as a weapon, chances are that person will be charged with aggravated assault.  Your vehicle can be considered a weapon.

The overbroad definition of weapon makes it imperative that you hire legal counsel who has significant experience in this area of the law.

Likewise, “other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury” is open to interpretation.  For example, serious bodily injury is defined in Utah Code 76-1-601 as injury that “creates or causes serious permanent disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or creates a substantial risk of death.”  Thus, to commit aggravated assault one does not have to actually cause death or serious bodily injury, he only has to act in a way that is likely to have such a result.  We have seen prosecutors argue that repeated hits with a fist is “force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury,” but the problem with that is nearly any fight involves repeated hits with a fist.  Thus, the definitions contained in the applicable statutes and the plain language of the statutes contains enough ambiguity that you better have the right attorney to battle against prosecutors who apply overly broad interpretations.

Aggravated Assault by a Prisoner

If you are a prisoner and commit aggravated assault the Legislature has decided that you should get increased penalties.  For example, if a prisoner commits aggravated assault and unintentionally causes serious bodily injury he is guilty of a second degree felony.  If he intentionally caused serious bodily injury he is guilty of a first degree felony.  The rationale behind the extra penalties is to dissuade prisoners from committing violent acts while in prison.

Utah Defenders Defends Against Aggravated Assault Charges

Our attorneys are some of the most experienced criminal defense lawyers in Utah. Contact us for a free consultation so that we can help you understand your charges and how we can help you.  801.618.1334.

The statute relating to aggravated assault is found in Utah Code § 76-5-103:

(1) A person commits aggravated assault if the person commits assault as defined in Section 76-5-102 and uses:
(a) a dangerous weapon as defined in Section 76-1-601 ; or
(b) other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.
(a) A violation of Subsection (1) is a third degree felony, except under Subsection (2)(b).
(b) A violation of Subsection (1) that results in serious bodily injury is a second degree felony.