This is not a well understood definition, because although Arizona law does define what reckless or negligent means. It is a convoluted definition that most people would not understand upon hearing it. A lot of people tend to just throw the word around by saying that someone was acting recklessly or that someone was acting negligently, although when they are actually explained the legal meaning behind the word “reckless” or the word “negligent,” they would not understand it and neither would they be able to be sure whether it would apply to a given situation.
Unfortunately, the jury would be asked to consider this convoluted meaning, and I believe juries tend to base their decisions on the fact they really did not like what the person did and they felt that the person should be punished, rather than actually looking into the meaning of reckless or the meaning of negligent and then applying the facts of the case to the actual law as it had been defined in Arizona.
Juries tend to go with their guts rather than specifically focusing on the law itself, which is really unfortunate and it is not what our system is based on and it especially becomes very difficult when talking about the definition of recklessness.
Is This Very Different From Most Other States?
I have not done research about a lot of the other states, although I think that a lot of what happens in Arizona comes down to this being a very conservative state. We tend to punish people a lot harsher than they do in other states. I just read a story about someone in California who was driving and a pedestrian ended up going through his windshield. He drove away from the scene with the person, who was either on the grill or on the windshield, and he only ended up getting probation. If that had happened in Arizona, the person would have ended up getting probably close to a decade in prison.
How Would The Seriousness Of An Injury Play Into What Someone Is Charged With?
Technically, it would come into play with the prosecutor’s discretion. If the victim really was not injured very badly, then the person who caused the accident may not end up being charged with that aggravated assault, and instead they may just end up being charged with DUI. Arizona really applies its laws in a horrible way, because for someone to be assaulted, the defendant would only need to have placed someone in apprehension of physical injuries or created some sort of actual physical injury on them. This would be is a misdemeanor assault.
To knock that up from a misdemeanor assault to a felony assault, the prosecutors would normally allege there was either a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument involved. On top of that, the prosecutor would argue that there was a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument involved and that would be how they would make their way up to “Aggravated assaults a dangerous offense.”
This would become incredibly unfair to the people of Arizona because the prosecutor would be saying that a vehicle that someone was driving, whether or not they were impaired or reckless, serves as a way to get the charges enhanced from a misdemeanor to a felony charge and to pump it up from a felony to a dangerous felony offense, even though it would actually just be a vehicle.
Technically, if someone was driving towards a person who was in the crosswalk and simply scared the person, so the person who was in the crosswalk thought the car may run them over, even if the car never touched them, then technically the person driving the car could still be charged with aggravated assault dangerous because they placed the person in apprehension of physical injury while being reckless while using a vehicle. The driver of the vehicle could then theoretically be looking at five to 15 years in prison.
We do not usually see cases where someone would be charged just because another person apprehended a physical injury, because the prosecutors would usually be fairly reasonable and they would only do it where there was truly a significant injury or death in the case. Technically, under the law, the way it is applied and according to how the Arizona court system has interpreted the law, someone simply being scared of someone in a vehicle who happened to be drunk, could lead to that person being charged with an aggravated assault dangerous.
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