An assault is defined as a person committing an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act; threatening violence on another person, along with the inherent ability to carry out that act, and placing fear in the victim that such violence is imminent. In essence, an assault is a threat to cause harm to another person with the apparent ability to carry out a threat, such that the person who is threatened is actually scared that they are going to get hurt.
As far as imminence or the apparent ability to carry out the act, if a person calls someone in a different state and implies that he is going to harm them one day soon, that is not imminence. In a social or public setting, with two people next to each other and one person clenches their fists are or makes a furtive movement or gesture, that poses an immediate threat that would reasonably induce a fear in the victim of an assault. The perpetrator either has the ability to carry out the threat imminently right then and there or immediately thereafter, and the person on the other end of the threat has that fear that it is actually going to happen. If the person was not scared, there is no assault. If you are facing West Palm Beach assault charges, get in touch with an adept assault attorney today.
Difference Between Assault and Battery by Legal Definition
An assault is a threat to carry out an act of violence on someone, coupled with the apparent ability to imminently carry out that threat. Battery is the unlawful touching or striking of another person with the intent to cause harm on that person without that person’s consent.
An example would be if someone walked up to a person on the street and intentionally slapped that person on the face, that is battery. If the two people are in a consensual situation and one is injured, that is not battery unless the force was excessive (for example in contact sports.)
The classic law school example is two football players are on a football field and they run into each other, they tackle each other and try to hurt each other. They are not committing the act of battery because they are impliedly consenting to that contact in playing the game.
Common Assault Charges
Assaults take many different forms and shapes, but three different types of West Palm Beach assault charges are the most common. The first assault is a simple assault which is a threat to do violence coupled with the apparent ability to commit an act of violence to the extent that the person on the receiving end of the threat fears that violence is about to happen to them. That is a second-degree misdemeanor with up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Another misdemeanor type of assault would be if the assault was inflicted or threatened on a law enforcement officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical care provider, transit employee, or other specified public officer. If a law enforcement officer, firefighter, EMT, transit authority, policemen or other public officer is threatened, then that assault, based upon the victim’s title and knowledge of their title when the assault was threatened or inflicted upon them, and the fear of such infliction upon them, would be a first-degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or $1,000 fine.
Aggravated assault which occurs when the threat of violence is to do great bodily harm, or the ability to inflict violence based upon the instrumentality that may have been used to cause the assault, and that they would be capable of causing great bodily harm. If a perpetrator threatens to chop a person’s arm off and has a knife in their hand, brandishing it at that person, this is threatening great bodily harm instead of just casual bodily harm.
Causing great bodily harm would make the charge an aggravated assault which is a third-degree felony. If a weapon is involved, e.g., a knife, a baseball bat, a club, and threatening to use it, this is aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. A car has been designated in the criminal context as a deadly weapon. That charge gets elevated to a third-degree felony which carries up to 5 years in prison and a much higher fine.
If a firearm is involved, threatening to shoot a person and if that person thinks they are about to get shot, that is called aggravated assault with a firearm as opposed to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Threatening someone with a firearm has a different category, although it is a deadly weapon. This carries a three-year minimum mandatory sentence in prison if one is convicted of this type of assault. This charge is the highest-level assault charge in the State of Florida.
Call an Attorney about the Elements of Assault in West Palm Beach
Assault is a serious crime with even more severe consequences. If you are facing West Palm Beach assault charges, get in touch with an attorney who can work diligently to defend you against these charges. A skilled lawyer can advocate for you.