There is no easy way to relieve yourself of assault charges. When one is arrested for assault, one faces serious criminal charges and severe penalties if convicted. If you are facing an assault charge in Florida, there is no doubt that you are doing yourself a disservice if you do not hire a competent and experienced criminal defense attorney.
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 completely 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.
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.
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.
Aggravated assault charges bring upon more serious consequences, as an aggravated assault is considered a third degree felony charge. Third degree felony charges can face up to 5 years in prison. Penalties can 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.
For proper legal counsel in these trying times, consult with attorney Brian Gabriel of The Law Offices of Gabriel & Gabriel. For over 25 years, Mr. Gabriel has strongly represented defendants facing assault charges in Palm Beach County. Call 622-5575 for a free consultation.