In most cases, a person has to intend to do bodily harm to be charged with aggravated assault, but in some states the charge can be brought if someone negligently causes an injury to another with a deadly weapon.
Intent Is a FactorIn some jurisdictions, if the person intended to cause bodily harm against the victim, even if they did not successfully do so, they can be charged with aggravated assault. For example, if a person attempts to kidnap someone in order to rape them, but fails to succeed, they can still be charged with aggravated assault in some states.
In some jurisdictions, merely putting someone else in fear of serious bodily harm - some states call it menacing - can bring a charge of aggravated assault. There does not have to be any actual physical contact.
Victim Status Can Make a DifferenceThe status of the victim can cause a simple assault to be raised to the level of an aggravated assault in some cases. If the victim is a public servant, such as a police officer or a teacher, working in that capacity at the time of the assault, the perpetrator can be charged with aggravated assault.
The age of the victim can also come into account in bringing more serious assault charges. If a person attempts to have sex with a child - some states say a person under age 14, others say age 12 - the perpetrator can be charged with aggravated sexual assault, rather than simple sexual assault.