Florida Statute 784.011 - Assault
Assault, also known as Simple Assault is defined by the State of Florida as an unlawful, intentional verbal threat or action to act out violence on another person, coupled with the apparent ability to perform this act, and performing an act that instills a reasonable fear in the other person that they are in danger of this violence occurring.
Differences Between Simple Assault, Aggravated Assault & Battery
Simple Assault - Simple assault is the most minor assault charge one can incur under Florida State law, a second-degree misdemeanor.
Aggravated Assault - Aggravated assault is more serious than simple assault, because it's committed involving a threat imposed with a deadly weapon or with the intent of committing a felony, a third-degree felony.
Battery - Battery, a first-degree misdemeanor, differs from an assault charge, because it goes beyond a threat and involves unwanted or unlawful physical contact. One can be charged with battery if one is accused of purposely touching or hitting a person without their consent, or if one causes intentional bodily harm to another person.
Penalties for Violating Assault Laws in Florida
If one is found guilty of committing assault, the penalties depend on the level of assault committed. A Florida court considers simple assault to be a misdemeanor and a second-degree offense that can result in up to a 60-day jail sentence and a fine of up to $500.
Aggravated assault is the most serious assault charge in the State of Florida, being a third-degree, felony charge that can result in up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
Battery is considered a first-degree, misdemeanor charge in the State of Florida, and can result in up to one year in jail, and fines of up to $1,000. However, if one has been charged with battery previously, a potential third-degree felony charge can result with a potential sentence of up to 5 years of imprisonment.
When an assault is committed against certain types of victims in Florida, such as law enforcement, the elderly, and school employees, an assault charge is elevated to a first-degree misdemeanor. Battery against these same victim types is elevated to a third-degree felony.
Potential Defenses to Assault
The defenses available in assault cases are vast, depending on the circumstances, but the most common defense is often the claim of self-defense. To establish self-defense, the accused party must have reacted to a reasonably perceived threat of harm coming to them that was unprovoked and didn't stem from the accused inflicting harm on the other party. They must also exhibit that there was no possible manner of exiting the situation safely.
Defense of Others
Another common defense in an assault case is the defense of others. This defense is almost identical to self-defense, with the only different factor being that the individual was protecting another person. This defense, too, involves the accused having a reasonable perceived fear that another person would be harmed.
Defending property is another viable defense to an assault charge. The accused must hold a realistic perceived fear that their personal property will be violated or illegally withheld. This defense permits an individual to employ reasonable force when defending their property, especially when this personal property involves their home.
Seeking a Criminal Defense Attorney
When charged with assault charges in Florida, many factors can alter the manner in which one is charged with assault. The smallest circumstance in your case can rest on the difference between a misdemeanor, that typically results in fines and no jail time, or being charged with a serious felony, that can include a long prison sentence and can gravely impact your life for many years to come.
A convicted felon can no longer retains the right to vote, hold public office, and own or carry firearms. In certain instances, a felony conviction can additionally result in losing certain professional license(s) held by the convicted. Additionally, those who are convicted felons, who find themselves facing criminal charges in the future may receive elevated charges on future crimes of which they have been accused, due to prior convictions.
Criminal charges will appear on criminal background checks and can impact employment opportunities and the ability to rent property, along with other opportunities. Therefore, it's vital to consult a qualified defense attorney when you are faced with an assault charge(s) in Florida.
An assault lawyer can offer their expertise that can assist you in the best possible outcome in your case when you have been arrested for assault and/or battery and you've been charged with either or both of these crimes.