While most cases of assault are misdemeanors, when the offense is elevated to “aggravated assault,” Florida deems it a felony crime. Punishment includes fines, probation, and imprisonment.
If you have been arrested for or charged with aggravated assault, call the defense lawyers at Goldman Wetzel in St. Petersburg to begin working on your case straightaway: 727-828-3900.
What does Florida consider as aggravated assault?
Florida Statutes § 784.011 defines assault as “an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.”
In other words, you assault someone when you threaten to cause him or her harm. Unlike battery which involves actually striking another person to harm them, you do not have to physically touch the person for assault to have occurred.
Aggravated assault is an elevated form of assault. Not all states recognize aggravated assault as a separate and distinct offense, but Florida does. Florida Statute § 784.021 defines aggravated assault as “an assault:
(a) With a deadly weapon without intent to kill; or
(b) With an intent to commit a felony.”
The weapon does not have to be a firearm in order to be a “deadly weapon” for the purposes of charging someone with aggravated assault. Anything that can conceivably be used to cause great bodily harm could be a weapon. This could include a broken beer bottle, a vehicle (if you were driving it as if you intend to use it to make impact on the victim), or a pocket knife.
Threatening to punch your neighbor if he lets his dog in your yard could be an assault. Threatening a neighbor while holding a baseball bat at your side may be aggravated assault. A lot of confusion can surround assault accusations. Our lawyers will sort out the confusion as we speak with prosecutors about the incident and argue for simple assault charges or for no charges at all.
What are the penalties for aggravated assault in Florida?
Florida considers aggravated assault a third-degree felony, punishable by up to:
- Five years in prison;
- Five years of probation; and/or
- A $5,000 fine.
There are other factors that can increase these penalties, too. For example, if you are accused of firing a gun during the threat, it could increase the prison sentence exponentially. Likewise, if you are accused of committing an assault while committing another felony, you would face separate charges and penalties for the other offense.
Do not face assault charges alone. Depending on the circumstances, you could face significant penalties. Involve our firm early so we can intervene on your behalf. It could be the difference between elevated charges and, in some cases, no charges at all.
What are some defenses to aggravated assault charges?
It is quite easy for prosecutors to charge someone with aggravated assault because they do not need to prove the alleged victim was actually touched or harmed. They only have to show that the defendant threatened the alleged victim with violence.
By the same token, it is also easy for defense attorneys to fight aggravated assault charges because the prosecutor often has a hard time gathering actual proof of making threats. There is no bodily harm, so it frequently winds up being a case of the alleged victim’s word against our client’s word.
There are numerous defenses that the attorneys at Goldman Wetzel may be able to use for an aggravated assault case. Below are just a few we might pursue:
- You were acting in self-defense.
- Your actions were covered under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.
- The alleged victim is falsely accusing you.
- You were justifiably defending another person or your property.
- The alleged victim was exaggerating the exchange and never really thought he was in any danger.
- You had no way of actually carrying out the threat.
- You made a threat (assault) but it did not constitute aggravated assault (no deadly weapon or attempt to carry out a felony).
- The object involved did not constitute a deadly weapon.
The defenses we might be able to use depend on the circumstances of your case.
Call an aggravated assault defense attorney in St. Petersburg today.
If you have been arrested for or charged with aggravated or simple assault, call Goldman Wetzel to discuss your case with our defense lawyers in St. Petersburg. The earlier you call us, the earlier we can intervene to try to get the charges dropped or lowered.
If we are unable to persuade the prosecutor to forgo filing charges, we will investigate the case, determine how to best approach the charges, and then pursue the best outcome possible, be it a dismissal, acquittal, plea bargain, or trial.
The initial consultation is free. Contact us today: 727-828-3900.