OUR ASSAULT AND AGGRAVATED ASSAULT LAWYERS ARE HERE FOR YOU
CHARGED WITH SIMPLE ASSAULT OR AGGRAVATED ASSAULT? DISCUSS YOUR CASE WITH AN ASSAULT LAWYER TODAY
Florida law separately defines the crimes of simple assault and aggravated assault. While most people think they must cause physical harm or contact to be guilty of one of these crimes, this is not the case. Neither simple assault nor aggravated assault requires physical harm, which makes defending against assault charges in Bradenton and Sarasota challenging in many cases. But, our assault lawyers have helped many clients avoid serious consequences following assault charges, and we can use this experience to help you regardless of the facts of your case.
WHAT IS SIMPLE ASSAULT?
The crime of simple assault is defined in Section 784.011 of the Florida Statutes. Under this law, a person is guilty of simple assault if that person:
- Makes an intentional, unlawful threat of violence by words or action;
- Has the “apparent ability” to engage in an act of violence; and,
- Does something that creates a “well-founded fear” that violence is imminent.
As you can see, actually committing a violent act or causing physical harm or contact is not an element of a simple assault charge in Florida. If you cause another person to reasonably fear for their safety, you are at risk of facing a simple assault conviction under Florida law.
Also, while prosecutors must prove that you made an intentional threat, they do not need to prove that you intended to commit an act of violence. If the victim believed that you were prepared to commit an act of violence, this is enough to substantiate the charge.
In most cases, simple assault is a second-degree misdemeanor. This means that it carries up to 60 days in jail, six months of probation and a $500 fine. However, if committed during a riot or against a firefighter, police officer or EMT, simple assault can be prosecuted as a first-degree misdemeanor carrying up to a year in jail, a year of probation and a $10,000 fine.
OUR BRADENTON AND SARASOTA AGGRAVATED ASSAULT LAWYERS UNDERSTAND WHAT’S AT STAKE
The crime of aggravated assault is defined in Section 784.021 of the Florida Statutes. An assault case can be prosecuted as aggravated assault if it involves:
- Use of a deadly weapon without intent to kill; or,
- Intent to commit a felony.
A deadly weapon can be a firearm, knife, bat, poison or anything else that can be used to cause serious bodily injury or death. With regard to “intent to commit a felony,” intending to cause great bodily harm (aggravated battery), commit a sexual assault or commit burglary are all examples of “intended” crimes that can elevate an assault from simple to aggravated.
Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony in Florida. This means that it carries up to five years of imprisonment.
BREAKING DOWN DEFENSES TO ASSAULT CHARGES
There are several possible defenses to a simple assault charge under Florida law. Some of these defenses involve arguing that you did not actually commit the alleged crime. For example, under Section 784.011 of the Florida Statutes, the State must prove that you committed “some act which create[d] a well-founded fear.” If you simply made a threat without committing a physical act, or if the alleged victim’s fear was feigned or unreasonable, then you are not guilty of simple assault.
An assault lawyer may also be able to defend you by asserting your constitutional rights. If police or prosecutors have violated your rights, then it might not matter whether you committed a crime. The State’s evidence may be inadmissible in court, and this may mean that prosecutors have no way to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
WHAT ARE POSSIBLE DEFENSES TO AGGRAVATED ASSAULT IN FLORIDA?
There are also several possible defenses to aggravated assault charges in Florida. Since an aggravated assault is a simple assault committed either (i) with a deadly weapon, or (ii) with intent to commit a felony, all of the defenses to simple assault are also defenses to aggravated assault. But, an aggravated assault lawyer may also be able to fight your charge by arguing that you did not have a deadly weapon at the time of the alleged crime, or by arguing that you did not intend to commit a felony offense. Proving intent often presents particular challenges for prosecutors, so arguing lack of intent can be an effective defense strategy in many cases.
CAN I BE CONVICTED OF AGGRAVATED ASSAULT IF I DIDN’T USE A DEADLY WEAPON?
While disputing the prosecution’s evidence that you had a deadline weapon is one possible way to fight an aggravated assault charge, it is important to clarify that you don’t actually need to use a deadly weapon to commit the crime. This is because an assault does not involve a physical attack (this is the separate offense of battery). So, even if you did not use a deadly weapon, if you had a weapon in your possession, this can be enough to elevate your charge from simple assault to aggravated assault.
CAN AN ASSAULT LAWYER PROVE I AM INNOCENT?
Whether an assault lawyer can prove your innocence depends on the specific facts of your case. First, your lawyer will need to determine if you are actually innocent. Second, your assault lawyer will need to determine if there is adequate evidence available. But, even if there isn’t adequate evidence to prove your innocence, an experienced assault lawyer may still be able to protect you by showing that the prosecution cannot prove your guilt.
IS IT WORTH HIRING AN ATTORNEY IF I KNOW I AM GUILTY?
If you think you are guilty of assault, you need to talk to a lawyer before you make any decisions. Pleading guilty can be incredibly costly, and it is a mistake you might not be able to take back. An experienced assault lawyer will be able to help regardless of the facts of your case, and you owe it to yourself and your family to fight by all means available.
DISCUSS YOUR CASE WITH A BRADENTON OR SARASOTA ASSAULT LAWYER IN CONFIDENCE
If you are facing an assault charge, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal rights. Call (941) 900-3100 or contact us online now to speak with a Bradenton or Sarasota assault lawyer (or aggravated assault lawyer) in confidence as soon as possible.
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