Assault and Aggravated Assault
Assault and Aggravated Assault
After grabbing a few drinks with friends at a local bar, another patron at the bar starts to get rowdy. A few insults pass between the two of you before he instigates a brawl. What are you to do? In this scenario, if you hit back, you could be charged with assault.
If you’re facing an assault charge in West Palm Beach, there is no easy way to get it off your record. An assault arrest may lead to serious criminal charges and penalties if you are convicted. Without working with a competent and experienced criminal defense attorney, you could miss out on valuable resources that may lead to the reduction or dismissal of your charge.
What is assault?
Assault is a crime that is characterized by intentional threats, words, or actions that cause one to feel afraid of impending violence. An example of assault is threatening to beat someone in a menacing or aggravated way. Such a threat is considered assault if the victim can reasonably be afraid of the behavior and believe that he or she is about to get hurt. This is often mistaken for battery, which is a different and more severe charge.
In Florida, assault is a general term associated with two criminal charges: “simple assault” and “aggravated assault.”
Simple Assault in Florida
Florida Assault Statutes define 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.” This means that in order to be guilty of assault all three criteria must be met. In order for assault to be proved at trial, the State must establish the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant intentionally and unlawfully, through his words or actions, threatened to do violence against the alleged victim.
- The defendant, at the time the threat was made, seemed capable of acting upon the threat; and
- The threat instilled a well-founded fear in the victim’s mind that violence was going to occur.
An experienced defense lawyer will aim to uncover and present evidence that pokes holes in the State’s case against you. Find out how you can protect your future by contacting The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel.
Aggravated Assault in Florida
According to Florida statute §784.021, aggravated assault is an assault charge that involves the use of a deadly weapon without intent to kill or with the intention of committing a felony. This is where assault truly distinguishes itself from battery– with assault, intent to injure is not a required factor, only the intent to create fear in the victim’s mind of impending violence. This can be as simple as someone pointing a gun at another person.
A “deadly weapon” is any object or substance that has the potential to cause great harm. Firearms, knives, and poisonous substances such as bleach are considered deadly weapons when used during an assault.
Possible Penalties and Defenses for Assault
If you are found guilty of simple assault in Florida, you face second-degree misdemeanor charges. What this means is that you can receive penalties that include up to 60 days in jail or a 6-month probation, and a $500.00 fine.
As a third-degree felony offense, aggravated assault leads to more severe penalties. A conviction of a third-degree felony may lead to a period of up to 5 years in a state prison. Penalties may increase under Florida’s 10-20-Life Law. If the assault targeted multiple individuals, the incident can support multiple assault charges, even if the assaults all happened at the same time and in the same place.
At The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel, attorney Brian Gabriel has more than 25 years of experience representing individuals charged with assault and aggravated assault. Upon learning the details of your case, he can craft a defense strategy that can put you in a better light. Possible defenses for assault may be:
- Self-defense. If you fought back in self-defense, you must show that the instigator subjected you to a threat of unlawful force or harm, you had a real perceived fear of harm to yourself and that you did not harm or provoke the instigator. There must have been no reasonable chance of escaping the situation. All of these elements must be met for a successful self-defense defense.
- Defending someone else. The actions that led to your assault charge might be justified if you can show that you were protecting others. All the elements are the same as those for self-defense with the exception of one: you must be able to prove that you had an honest and real perceived fear of harm to another person/people.
- Defending property. You may be able to claim that you acted in defense of your property against being invaded or illegally withheld. This defense usually works best in cases where the accused allegedly assaulted another person in his own home.
Assault Defense in West Palm Beach
For proper legal counsel in these trying times, discuss your assault charge with attorney Brian Gabriel. He has defended individuals in situations like yours for more than 25 years throughout Palm Beach County and surrounding areas. As one of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100, Mr. Gabriel knows what it takes to compromise with the other side and may be capable of having your assault charge reduced or dismissed. The sooner you get him on your case, the better your results can be. Contact our law firm at 561-622-5575 for a free consultation or complete our contact form.