What Drives Aggravated Assault? A Look at Contributing Factors

Todd Bennett

Aggravated assault involves violently attacking and inflicting severe bodily harm on a victim, often involving the use of a deadly weapon. This serious felony crime has lasting traumatic effects on victims and communities.

But what motivates someone to carry out such vicious acts? Here we explore some of the key factors that can lead to aggravated assaults.

Poverty & Social Inequality

Low socioeconomic status and lack of access to resources have been linked to higher rates of violent crimes like aggravated assault.

Concentrated Poverty

  • Living in extreme, chronic poverty brings increased stress, despair, and conflict that can manifest in violence.


  • Lack of consistent legal employment leads some to criminal activity to generate income.

Low Education

  • Dropping out of school limits opportunities. Educational failures breed frustration.

Feeling Marginalized

  • Perceived social exclusion, discrimination, and lack of social mobility can lead to anti-social acts.

While poverty itself does not excuse violence, difficult socioeconomic circumstances can drive people to aggression. Alleviating poverty and inequality are vital for reducing crime.

Read More: Differences in Legal Penalties: Aggravated Assault vs Simple Assault

Substance Abuse & Addiction

Many aggravated assaults involve attackers who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

Intoxication Impairs Judgment

  • When inebriated, people are less likely to control violent impulses.

Need to Fund Addiction

  • Addicts sometimes commit crimes to get money for their next high.

Drug-Related Disputes

  • Deals gone bad or fights over money/drugs can escalate to murderous violence.

Read More: Staying Safe: Tips to Prevent Aggravated Assault

Mental Health Issues

Mental illness is often an underlying factor in aggravated assaults.

Schizophrenia & Psychosis

  • Auditory hallucinations may drive some to lash out violently against perceived threats.


  • Irrational suspicion rooted in mental illness can lead to unprovoked attacks.

Unmanaged Anger Issues

  • Impulse control problems, misplaced rage, aggression manifest violently.

Personality Disorders

  • Antisocial, narcissistic and borderline personality disorders are associated with increased risk of criminal violence when coupled with substance abuse.

Gang Activity & Culture

Gang membership is a huge risk factor due to the criminal lifestyle and violence exposure.


  • Recruits may be forced to commit crimes like assault to prove themselves.

Code of Retaliation

  • Failure to avenge a fellow member’s death or attack can warrant punishment.

Business Protection

  • Gangs assault and murder to retain territory, settle disputes, and maintain reputation.

Misguided Loyalty

  • Unquestioning mentality leads members to blindly follow orders even if it means committing acts of violence.

Domestic Violence

A majority of aggravated assaults stem from violence between intimate partners and family members.

Power & Control

  • Abusers assault victims to exert and reinforce dominance through fear.

Jealous Rage

  • Perceived threats to the relationship can incite raging violence.


  • Without intervention, abuse that starts as threats often becomes life-threatening.


  • Victims who fight back against their abuser are often then assaulted more severely.

Cycles of Violence

  • Children exposed to violence in the home learn to perpetuate aggressive behavior.

Hate Crimes

Violent assaults are often fueled by bigotry toward marginalized groups.

Racial Bias

  • Centuries of ingrained societal racism manifests in attacks on people of color.


  • Anti-gay hatred leads some to commit assault against LGBTQ people.

Religious Intolerance

  • Extremist beliefs can drive followers to brutally target other faiths.


  • Sentiments against immigrants, refugees, or foreigners can turn violent.

While no factor alone predetermines someone will commit aggravated assault, recognizing the contributing influences can help prevent violence through education, awareness, policy reform, and access to mental health & substance abuse treatment. Addressing systemic social issues is key to reducing aggravated assaults long-term.

Read More: Find Best Criminal Defense Attorney in Your City

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Todd Bennett is a five-year criminal defense attorney. He is dedicated to defending the accused and has won several criminal cases. Todd Bennett uses his significant criminal justice experience to create customized defense tactics for each client. Todd Bennett frequently speaks at legal gatherings, offering his criminal defense expertise and staying abreast of industry advancements. Criminal defendants trust Todd Bennett's vigorous advocacy and commitment to client success.