I have decided that after this week’s column I’m not going to be writing another one until next year. Sorry to those that did not get the joke. Maybe the New Year will bring a sense of humor.
Q: Why did they charge the man who is suspected of shooting at a state trooper in the Walmart parking lot with aggravated assault instead of attempted murder?—Kathy
A: The simplest and easiest answer to tell you is that Idaho does not have an attempted murder code. That is where the aggravated assault code comes into play. Probably the simpler answer would to be to give you the Idaho code definition of aggravated assault and go from there.
Idaho code 18-905 reads: An aggravated assault is an assault: (a) with a deadly weapon or instrument without intent to kill; or (b) By any means or force likely to produce great bodily harm. [; or] © With any vitriol, corrosive acid, or a caustic chemical of any kind. (d) “Deadly weapon or instrument” as used in this chapter is defined to include any firearm, though unloaded or so defective that it cannot be fired.
As you can read aggravated assault by all intent and purpose falls into what could be called attempted murder.
Now had the officer been hit it would more than likely be charged as aggravated battery but with an enhanced charge with the using of the firearm.
Aggravated battery is defined in Idaho Code 18-907 as: (a) Causes great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement; or (b) Uses a deadly weapon or instrument; or © Uses any vitriol, corrosive acid, or a caustic chemical of any nature; or (d) Uses any poison or other noxious or destructive substance or liquid; or (e) Upon the person of a pregnant female, causes great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement to an embryo or fetus.
The key factor in charging is that assault means a miss and battery means a hit. The aggravated part just basically means that a weapon of some sort was used. There are enhancements as well depending on the type of weapon used.
I will say that as an officer I would much rather have somebody charged with either of these as preferred to murder. Of course not having to charge anybody at all would be the ultimate preference, if you know what I mean.
Glad to report that as of time of submission, I did not have to report any officers killed in the line of duty.