Is pointing a gun at someone a crime in Florida?

Is pointing a gun at someone a crime in Florida?

Pointing a gun at someone is a felony crime in Florida, punishable by imprisonment and fines. If you are undocumented or on a visitor visa and you are convicted, you can also be deported. And it makes no difference whether the gun you pointed was loaded. It is aggravated assault either way.

If you have been charged with a violent crime in Florida, call the defense lawyers at Goldman Wetzel in St. Petersburg at 727-828-3900 for assistance.

What is aggravated assault in Florida?

Florida Statute § 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.”

Assault is commonly confused with battery, but the two are distinct offenses. Battery means touching, striking, or otherwise causing physical harm, whereas assault is only the threat of harm.

Pointing a gun at someone is “aggravated assault,” a more serious offense than basic assault. Florida Statute § 784.021 defines aggravated assault as “an assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill or with an intent to commit a felony.” 

What are the penalties for pointing a gun at someone?

Basic assault is a second-degree misdemeanor. When the assault involves a deadly weapon like a gun, the offense is elevated to a third-degree felony. If convicted, you could face up to:

  • Five years in prison;
  • Five years of probation; and/or
  • A $5,000 fine.

For many violent crimes, the courts must dole out mandatory minimum prison sentences, as per statutory law. Aggravated assault used to entail a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years. However, when CS/SB 228 became law in 2016, the legislatures changed this policy, deleting aggravated assault from the list of convictions which carry a minimum term of imprisonment.

What are some defenses to aggravated assault in Florida?

In many cases, the factors leading up to aggravated assault charges are accidental, unintentional, or misrepresented by the alleged victim. Oftentimes, people charged with aggravated assault have very valid reasons for drawing their weapon that they may be able use as a defense in court.

For instance, if you drew a gun on someone as an act of self-defense, we can explain your story to the court and present evidence to support your case. For self-defense to hold up in court, we would have to prove:

  • You believed that you or someone else was in immediate danger of suffering serious injury or death;
  • You thought force was the only way to avoid the attack; and
  • You used only as much threat of force as necessary (no excessive force).

Other defenses we can use to defeat charges of aggravated assault include the following:

  • You were wrongly accused, e.g., the alleged victim is lying or has mistaken you for someone else.
  • You did not actually point a gun at anyone, e.g., the object you were holding was not a gun, you were holding a gun but you were not pointing it at anyone, etc.
  • You did not intend to harm anyone.

In cases where avoiding a conviction is unlikely, we may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor and get the charges reduced to a lesser offense, such as the improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon or firearm (a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida Statute § 790.10) or discharging firearms in public (also a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida Statute § 790.15). 

Facing aggravated assault charges? Call our defense team in St. Petersburg now.

If you have been arrested for pointing a gun at someone, speak to our violent crime defense attorneys at Goldman Wetzel about your case straightaway. We can review the facts of the case, explain in no-nonsense terms exactly what you are up against, and help devise a defense strategy for your case.

Your future and freedom are on the line. Enlist the help of the qualified attorneys at Goldman Wetzel to fight your case. Contact us for a free consultation.