The Florida Statutes establishes two distinct assault offenses–simple assault and aggravated assault. Both offenses are considered violent crimes even though the elements of simple and aggravated assault do not require any actual physical contact. Assault cases often hinge on conflicting factual accounts. This is why it is essential that you consult with an experienced criminal attorney as soon as you are charged with assault.
A Boynton Beach assault lawyer can negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf, make every effort to get charges reduced or dismissed whenever possible, and provide a thorough defense based on the unique facts of your case.
What is the Legal Definition of Assault?
A person commits assault if they intentionally and unlawfully threaten, by word or act, to do violence to another, have the apparent ability to carry out the threat at the time that it was made and, create a reasonable fear in the other person that such violence or harm is imminent. Florida Courts have consistently ruled that a verbal threat alone is not sufficient for assault, there must be some overt act that creates a reasonable fear that violence is about to occur.
The intent element requires that the prosecution proves that the person intended to engage in an action that was substantially certain to put another in fear of imminent violence, not that they had the intent to commit violence against another. Simple assault is a second-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail or six months’ probation, and a maximum fine of $500.
When Would an Assault be Considered Aggravated?
An assault is considered aggravated assault if the assault was made with a deadly weapon without intent to kill or with an intent to commit a felony. In other words, to convict someone of aggravated assault, the prosecution must prove the elements of an assault and that the person either used a deadly weapon or had the intent to commit a felony.
It is a deadly weapon if it is used or threatened to be used in a manner that is likely to result in death or great bodily harm. Intent to commit a felony usually means that the aggravated assault occurred during the commission of a felony, such as a carjacking or sexual battery. Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony, which carries penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment or five years’ probation, and up to a $5,000 fine. A Boynton Beach assault lawyer can help mitigate potential penalties that an individual might face.
Possible Mitigating Factors Leading to Enhancements
The punishment for assault or aggravated assault can be enhanced if the offense involves any of the following categories of allegedly harmed individuals:
- Law enforcement officers
- EMTs, nurses, or physicians
- Public transit employees or agents
- Persons age 65 years or older
Until recently, aggravated assaults involving the possession or use of a gun were among the crimes subject to Florida’s10-20-Life law. Since CS/SB 228 went into effect on July 1, 2016, the mandatory minimum sentences under 10-20-Life are no longer applicable to aggravated assault convictions.
Consulting an Attorney
Boynton Beach assault lawyers have experience handling simple assault and aggravated assault cases and successful track records of obtaining the most favorable outcome possible for their clients. Call today to learn how they can help preserve your rights and freedom.