Many scenarios may lead to criminal assault charges in Florida, and there are different types of charges that vary by the severity of the crime. When people think about the term “assault,” they usually associate it with a physical altercation; however, assault does not always involve physical contact. In fact, once a situation escalates to the point where one person attempts to injure another and makes contact, the act becomes battery. Assault and battery charges may be charged simultaneously, but they represent different actions.
The prevalence of the word “assault” in everyday use leads to confusion and misconceptions about assault charges. If you are charged with assault in West Palm Beach or the surrounding areas, you will want to contact assault defense attorney Brian Gabriel to understand what you’re facing.
5 Common Assault Myths
I need to physically hurt someone to face assault charges.
In Florida, you do not have to hurt someone to face charges of assault; you don’t even have to touch them. Assault is defined in Statute 784.011 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 that creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.”
Therefore, a believable threat to beat someone or throw a punch can be interpreted as assault if the victim feared for their safety. Whether or not you proceed to carry out the threat does not influence whether or not you will be charged with assault. Further, if you do make contact, you may also be charged with battery.
I need a weapon that instills fear in an assault victim to face charges.
A person can assault another person and face assault charges without using a weapon. Victims of assault may reasonably fear impending violence whether or not their assailant brandishes a weapon. To prove assault, the prosecution must show that the defendant appeared to be able to carry out the threat they made. So, if the defendant threatens to punch the victim and appears capable of doing so, this element may be satisfied.
Those who do use weapons, however, display a more apparent ability to cause serious physical harm or end a life. Anyone who uses a deadly weapon without the intent to kill or with the intent to commit a felony may be charged with aggravated assault—a more severe charge than simple assault.
Threats Are a Form of Protected Speech
Some people may argue that threats are a form of speech protected by the First Amendment and thus they should not be prosecuted for making verbal or written threats. However, threats of violence against individuals may be prosecuted. “True threats of violence” that intend to place a person at risk of bodily harm or death are unprotected.
I Can Take Anger Management Classes to Reduce My Charge
While you may be sentenced to anger management classes if you are found guilty of assault in Florida, it does not hurt to take these before a formal conviction to show the judge that you are serious about avoiding a future assault charge. However, it is not guaranteed that your charge will be mitigated simply because you chose to sign up for anger management. Your criminal defense lawyer will be able to work out the best deal with the prosecutor.
I Can Have an Assault Charge Expunged
Sealing or expunging criminal charges is a complicated matter that may or may not be possible in your unique situation. Your eligibility depends on numerous factors, such as whether you were charged of simple or aggravated assault, ultimately convicted of assault, whether you have previously sealed or expunged a criminal charge, and more. Contact expungement attorney Brian Gabriel to find out whether this may be an option.
Contact Brian Gabriel for Effective Assault Defense
The sooner you contact an assault defense lawyer for counsel regarding an assault charge, the better your future may be. In West Palm Beach or the surrounding areas, attorney Brian P. Gabriel has more than 30 years of experience representing people accused of all types of misdemeanor and felony assault charges throughout Palm Beach County. At The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel, Brian Gabriel’s goal is to seek the best possible outcome for your case. Call 561-622-5575 for a free consultation or complete a contact form.