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Assault / Aggravated Assault

What is Considered an Assault?

The crime of Assault is defined by Florida Statute 784.11. There are essentially three elements that must be present in order for an assault to occur: The first element under the statute is that there must be a threat made by one person to do harm or commit some type of violence against another. The second element requires that the person making the threat must have had the present ability to actually carry out the threat at the time it was made. The third element under the assault statute requires that the threat must have created a well-founded fear in the victim’s mind that he or she was about to be harmed.

It is important to understand that not all threats will be considered an assault, and that there does not need to be any physical contact with the victim for an assault to occur. An assault charge punishes those who cause fear while the crime of Battery punishes those who actually inflict harm. Contact our Brevard County criminal defense law firm to determine the nature of your case.

As stated above, the distinction between a simple threat and an assault is whether there existed a present ability at the time the threat was made to actually carry out the threat. By way of example, if you threaten to hurt someone while speaking with him or her on the telephone, such conduct would probably not rise to the level of an assault because there is no present ability on the part of the perpetrator to actually carry out the threat. However, on the other hand, if a threat is made while standing in another’s personal space, while speaking in a loud or aggressive tone, such conduct may very well create a reasonable fear in the victim’s mind that he or she is about to be harmed and therefore constitute the crime of assault.

Can I be Sentenced to Jail if Convicted of Assault?

Assault is punishable as a second degree misdemeanor (not more than 60 days in jail and a $500 fine). Assaults involving “special victims” are classified as first degree misdemeanors and are punishable by up to one year in jail. Additionally, if an assault is committed with the use of a deadly weapon or while committing a felony, you can be charged with aggravated assault, which bumps it up from a misdemeanor to a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. As a Brevard County criminal defense lawyer, I am here to help you.

Who is Considered a “Special Victim”?

Special victims are: law-enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical care providers and public transit employees who are engaged in their official duties at the time of the alleged assault. Also considered “special victims” are: persons over the age of 65, employees of the Department of children and families, school employees, sports officials, code inspectors, and visitors and detainees at correctional facilities.

What is the Difference Between Assault and Aggravated Assault?

Florida Statute 784.021 lists the elements that a prosecutor must prove at trial to convict an accused of Aggravated Assault. The first three elements of Aggravated Assault are identical to the elements of Simple Assault, but Aggravated Assault has an additional fourth element, which is that the Assault must be made with a deadly weapon or intent to commit a felony. For example, it would probably be an Aggravated Assault if a Defendant told the victim that he was going to stab him while holding a knife to his throat. It is the use of the deadly weapon to instill fear in the victim’s mind that elevates the crime to the more serious charge of Aggravated Assault.

What is Considered a Deadly Weapon?

Many of us commonly understand and recognize guns and knives to be deadly weapons. However, for purposes of the Aggravated Assault statute, many different items and objects could be considered “deadly” under the legal definition. The statute defines a deadly weapon as an item that is used or threatened to be used in a way that is likely to cause death or serious bodily har. Under this broad definition, many different items and objects could be considered deadly, not just guns and knives.

What is the Maximum Punishment for Aggravated Assault?

Aggravated Assault is classified as a third degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and not more than a $5,000.00 fine. It is also important to note that committing an Aggravated Assault with a firearm could trigger a harsh mandatory minimum prison sentence under the 10-20-Life statute under certain circumstances.

What are Some Defenses to Assault?

It is very important to have an experienced attorney if you are charged with Assault in Florida. Assault is a very subjective charge and is actually very defensible, especially with the knowledge and experience of a qualified Brevard County criminal defense attorney. I have the experience necessary to help provide a valid defense to the charge of assault. Obviously every situation is different, but some of the possible defenses to assault charges are that there was lack of intent to actually threaten the alleged victim; there was no ability to actually carry out the alleged threat; lack of an imminent threat; lack of reasonable fear by the alleged victim; the threat was conditional and therefore not imminent; or that the victim misrepresented the facts.

If you or a friend or family member were arrested for Assault, regardless of whether the crime allegedly occurred in Melbourne, Palm Bay, Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island, Titusville, Rockledge, Viera, Cape Canaveral, Satellite Beach, Indian Harbour Beach, West Melbourne, Melbourne Village, Melbourne Beach, Indialantic, Palm Shores, Grant-Valkaria, Mims, or anywhere else in Brevard County, Florida, Contact me to immediately schedule your free consultation.

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