No one wakes up in the morning thinking “I’m going to threaten someone, get arrested, and face criminal assault charges.”
More often, an unexpected disagreement turns ugly and escalates, tempers flare, the police are called, and someone goes to jail.
If you find yourself facing criminal assault charges in central-Florida, it is critically important that you have a skilled and experienced central-Florida criminal defense attorney on your side to defend you against the charges, to try to have the case against you thrown out, or to negotiate a plea bargain that minimizes the penalties you face.
We all make mistakes. We all get angry and upset. We all have moments we wish we could take back. Unfortunately, sometimes those moments come with hefty consequences, like facing charges for criminal assault.
Simple Assault – A Threat That Leads to Fear of Imminent Harm
Florida defines Simple 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.” Florida Statutes 784.011. An assault charge is based on the threat of violence. Therefore, a person can be convicted of assault without ever laying a hand on another person. If there is physical contact with the alleged victim, a person would be charged with Battery.
Elements of Simple Assault
In order to secure a conviction for assault, the State of Florida must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant intentionally and unlawfully threatened another person;
- The defendant had the apparent ability to carry out the threat; and
- The threat created a well-founded fear of imminent violence.
Simple Assault – Misdemeanor of the Second Degree
Simple Assault is a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable by up to 60 days in jail or 6 months probation, and a fine of up to $500.
If the threat was made against multiple people, a person will often face multiple assault charges, even if the threat was made as part of a single episode.
Defenses to an Assault Charge
Simple assault charges are highly defensible in the hands of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, defenses may include:
- Self-defense or defense of others
- Defense of property
- Stand Your Ground
- No intent to threaten the victim
- No ability to carry out the alleged threat
- Circumstances indicating the threat was not imminent
- No well-founded fear on the part of the victim
- Vague threats without an overt act
- Conditional threats
- Factual dispute as to whether the conduct was threatening in nature
- False allegations
Aggravated Assault – Threats Involving a Deadly Weapon
Aggravated Assault in Florida is similar to Simple Assault, except that in the case of Aggravated Assault a deadly weapon was used, or the defendant was intending to commit a felony.
For purposes of an assault charge, a deadly weapon is anything that can be used in a way that is likely to cause death or great bodily harm. Examples of a deadly weapon include a pocket knife, a beer bottle, or a car driven towards a person with the intent to make contact.
Defenses to a charge of Aggravated Assault are similar to the defenses an attorney can raise to a charge of Simple Assault.
Assault Charges Can Carry Lifelong Consequences
If you are convicted of an assault charge it will become part of your permanent criminal record. A conviction can have a serious impact on your life and your future. It can make it significantly more difficult to find a job, rent a house or apartment, and even to get loans or scholarships for school.
A felony conviction can result in the loss of your right to vote, make you ineligible to hold public office or serve as a juror, and you could lose your right to or own or carry firearms. A conviction might also mean the loss of professional license or certification.
If you are currently facing criminal charges and have a prior criminal conviction, especially for a violent crime, the charges you now face might be enhanced due to your prior criminal record. Likewise, if you are convicted on an assault charge and are later charged with another crime, your assault conviction can be used to seek harsher penalties against you in the future.
Facing Assault Charges? - Contact an Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you or someone you love is facing an assault charge, contact the team of experienced criminal defense professionals at The Law Office of Jody L. Fisher. As a former prosecutor in practice since 2002, I will aggressively defend your freedom and assert your rights.
Contact The Law Office of Jody L. Fisher today for an initial consultation. Call (352) 503-4111, email, or complete our online information form.