Vehicular Assault

Arizona has no such crime, nor do we have a vehicular homicide statue. You’ve either assaulted someone or not; if you use a vehicle in an assault, you will be charged with aggravated assault, a serious felony. These cases far more commonly involve impaired drivers — an impaired driver who causes a crash w/injury are routinely charged with aggravated assault; e.g. the driver in the pedicab incident (sentenced to 4 years in prison). However from time to time, there are drivers who are just plain angry over something or other.

There’s a mis-conception that assault, §13-1203 requires causing actual physical  injury; but that is not the case, merely “Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury” creates the crime of assault. And aggravated assault  §13-1204 is just an assault committed with some listed factor; in cases involving a motor vehicle: “If the person uses a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument”, or if the victim is seriously injured regardless of how.

[ Also see  §13-1201, and  §13-1202 which are the crimes of “Endangerment”, and “Threatening or intimidating”, respectively. These all sort of play together, note the statute numbering: 1201,2,3,4 ]. They are in rough-order of escalating seriousness:

Also, in case you were wondering:

28-3304. Mandatory revocation of license; definition
A. In addition to the grounds for mandatory revocation provided.. the department shall immediately revoke the license of a driver…
1. A homicide or aggravated assault resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle. [effectively this causes a 3 year revocation per 28-3315E1]

Indicia of Criminality

Any incident must be considered in total; however, one or more of these actions by a driver may indicate criminal intentions, and not merely infractions. The more indications the more likely there was criminal intent. Note these indicators have little in particular to do with bicyclists, and are more-or-less the same as any road rage situation

  • Repeated or prolonged horn activation
  • Activating horn while stopped
  • Changing lanes repeatedly
  • Changing lanes to become impeded
  • Failure to drive within one lane (“Straddling” lanes)
  • Failure to change lanes when another lane is available
  • Passing too closely
  • Driving too slowly / Slowing or braking after passing
  • Surging (speeding up then slowing down)
  • Any Reckless or Aggressive Driving
  • Shouting
  • Causing extra noise (revving engine)
  • Backing / returning to the scene of an incident
  • Leaving the scene of a crash (“hit-and-run“)

This content was moved from comment on related article in-the-presence-requirement


Arizona has a criminal harassment law, it doesn’t appear to be particularly applicable to motorists who harass others on the road:

 §13-2921 Harassment; classification; definition

E.g. would or could unwanted and otherwise illegal repeated horn-blowing or screaming qualify as “with intent to harass (by) … causes(ing) a communication…”?

In the context of bicyclists, see CA Attorney Seth Davidson’s article Report Card, where he stresses the need, neigh duty, to report such behaviors, which are nothing more or less than using a dangerous instrument to commit a crime.

Some Arizona Cases of Drivers Charged Criminally in Arizona

Here are the curious cases of Theresa Depiero and Holly Solomon

MCSO: Litchfield Park woman, 75, tried to run over neighbor

No case number yet listed. News reports the driver was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault. This case involves no injury; the suspect’s statement, according to the police report that she “only wanted to scare him” seems to be an admission of aggravated assault– that is she intended to placed the victim in fear, using her vehicle ( a dangerous weapon/instrument).

Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies arrested a 75-year-old Litchfield … Theresa Depiero… Sheriff’s deputies said the victim was walking his dog at 5:30 p.m. Monday near Camelback and Citrus roads when a woman in a black SUV drove past him, stopped her car, opened the door and shouted obscenities….Depiero turned her car around and yelled, “I am going to kill you,” according to court records. Depiero then drove directly toward the victim and caused him to jump off the road into landscaping, with his dogs, in order to not get hit, deputies said…. The man told deputies he again had to jump into rocks to escape Depiero’s SUV and that he had to walk into the driveway of a home when Depiero tried to hit him a third time, according to a sheriff’s report. Depiero was taken into custody and told investigators that she did not want to hit her neighbor but that she only wanted to scare him, according to a sheriff’s report. –azcentral

Wife runs over husband in Gilbert

This is criminal case CR-2012158088 in Maricopa County Superior court, stemming from an incident in 2012. Prosecutors last week (mid-Jan 2015; can’t find news story online) noted the case is set to come to trial 2/17/2015.

GILBERT, AZ – A Mesa woman was arrested Saturday after she allegedly chased her husband around a Gilbert parking lot in an SUV during an argument over the presidential election… The woman finally ran over her husband, leaving him with critical injuries. According to a Gilbert police report, the argument started over her husband’s lack of voter participation in the recent election. Holly Solomon, 28, apparently believed her family was going to face hardship as a result of President Barack Obama’s re-election… –abc15

So she was eventually sentenced on 5/21/2015. Interestingly, according to the news story she rejected a plea deal that would have demoted her crime from “dangerous” to “non-dangerous”. I don’t know what caused her to reject it, but she ended up with 3.5 years in prison. Here is the 4/21/2015 minute that appears to be an accepted plead deal that the crimes as “non-dangerous”. The final sentencing minute isn’t yet available, but it can be found once available at  CR-2012158088.

Here’s a news story that discusses the acceptance of the 4/21 plea, along with some tidbits about a rejected 2013 plea deal.

So this was a long an convoluted criminal case, there are dozens of minute entries; it seems surprising the deal ultimately gave her 3.5 years for a non-dangerous class 3 felony; hit-and-run convictions for class 3 (or even 2) routinely yield no or very little incarceration so this is perhaps more evidence the justice system doesn’t take the crime of hit and run seriously.

License revocation? 28-3304 is listed mentioned on the plea deal; leading me to believe they (the prosecutor’s office) don’t just let this slide, which is good. Unfortunately, I don’t see where the revocation is consecutive with incarceration so a 3 year effective revocation is in the end meaningless, since she’ll be locked up for 85% of 3.5 years anyways.

Misty Lee Wilke / Phoenix

Yikes: Phoenix company captures viral video of Mustang plowing into bicyclist in hit-and-run. and here’s the youtube. ” The incident happened April 29 outside Norton Park, near 13th Place and Hatcher Road in north Phoenix… A grand jury indicted Wilke on May 10 (2016), charging her with attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and leaving the scene of a serious injury accident. She has pleaded not guilty.”

The outcome 9/1/2016: Woman who hit boyfriend with car over AIDS gets prison term has been sentenced to 6.5 years.

Trent Ferree / Phoenix

PHOENIX – Phoenix police said a 45-year-old man intentionally drove his truck onto a sidewalk and hit a woman and an 11-year-old girl Wednesday night near 41st Street and Jomax Road.
According to police, after hitting the woman and child, Trent Ferree backed up his truck and hit the woman a second time. He struck the woman again before witnesses pulled him from his truck and held him for police…  Police said evidence shows it was a random act of violence and the victims were not targeted because of their relation to Deputy Sgt. Chervenak.
Ferree attempted to strike two others walking in the neighborhood earlier in the night, police said.
According to police, Ferree will be booked for one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder.



2 thoughts on “Vehicular Assault”

  1. see also Disorderly conduct
    13-2904. … Engages in fighting, violent or seriously disruptive behavior… or… Uses abusive or offensive language or gestures to any person present in a manner likely to provoke immediate physical retaliation by such person

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