Have you or a loved one been charged with assault or aggravated assault in Florida? Don’t wait. Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight for your rights. The lawyers of Dimond Kaplan & Rothstein, P.A., located in West Palm Beach, FL can help.
In Florida, the crime of assault is defined by the state statute as follows: Assault is:
an intentional threat by word or act that seeks to physically harm another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.
Assault does not require an intent to injure. It is sufficient that a potential victim of an assault merely has reason to fear an immediate attack.
However, not all threats of violence can be considered to be criminal assault. For example, if someone yells at another person who is a great distance away, something to the effect of, “I’m going to get you,” and the person being yelled at is not fearful of an imminent act of violence, a charge of assault is unlikely. However, if that same person is confronting another at close quarters, and has an ability to carry out the threat, causing the recipient to fear that an act of violence is possible, indeed is about to happen, a charge of assault can be levied.
The crime of assault differs from the crime of battery. Battery only takes place when a defendant makes physical contact with a victim. To prove a battery case, a prosecutor must show that the defendant intentionally touched or struck the victim. Also, the physical contact must have been against the victim’s will and done without the victim’s consent.
Simple assault is categorized as a second degree misdemeanor. It carries a sentence of imprisonment for up to 60 days and a fine that cannot exceed $500. However, because of the highly subjective nature of the offense, simple assault is not always an easy charge to prove.
In order to successfully prosecute someone for the charge of simple assault, it must be shown conclusively, and beyond reasonable doubt, that there was an overt intent to threaten the alleged victim; that there was an apparent ability to carry out the alleged threat; that the alleged victim had a “well-founded” fear of imminent violence; that the alleged victim didn’t provoke the threat; and that the alleged perpetrator wasn’t merely trying to defend himself or another. In addition, the word or act constituting the threat must be “willful and knowing” on the part of the defendant. An off-hand remark to harm another, without an actual intent to carry out the threat, is not enough to produce a conviction for assault.
Aggravated assault is “an assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill; or with an intent to commit a felony.” Aggravated assault is categorized as a third degree felony, which can result in a prison sentence and/or probation of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000. In addition, a person found guilty of aggravated assault in Florida may be required to pay restitution to a victim for any expenses resulting from the crime, such as the cost of medical treatment or counseling.
In some cases, the crime of aggravated assault can carry enhance penalties, based upon certain factors, such as the characteristics of the alleged victim or the type of weapon used during the commission of the crime. For example, Aggravated Assault with a Firearm carries a minimum mandatory sentence of three years in prison. And, depending on the type of firearm used, or if it was discharged, or if someone was shot, the minimum prison sentence can be increased to up to 25 years.
In addition, aggravated assault against certain victims can be prosecuted as a second degree felony carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years rather than five. The following is a partial list of “special victims” if the assault occurs while the victim is engaged in the performance of his or her professional duties:
- A law enforcement officer
- A firefighter
- An emergency medical care provider
- A public transport employee
- A parking enforcement officer
- A licensed security officer
- An employee of at a detention or commitment facility for sexually violent offenders
- A code inspector
The following are also considered to be “special victims” and need not be engaged in the performance of any professional duties at the time of the assault offense:
- An employee or investigator for the Florida Department of Children and Family Services
- A person over the age of 65
- A sports official during or immediately after a sporting event
- A school employee
- An elected official
- A visitor or detainee in a jail or correctional facility.
Finally, if the victim of an aggravated assault is a law enforcement officer, corrections officer, state’s attorney or a judge, and the crime is committed because of the person’s employment status or while the victim is performing duties of employment, the court may not allow the offender to serve probation in lieu of prison or otherwise defer or suspend the sentence.
Legal Assistance for Assault Charges
If you or a family member been accused or arrested of an Assault, Battery or other Violent Crime in the West Palm beach or the greater Palm Beach County area, contact Michelle Suskauer at Dimond Kaplan & Rothstein, P.A.. We understand what is at stake and know how to protect your rights. Our legal team will explain the penalties you may be facing and analyze your case for possible defenses. Our top-rated criminal defense attorneys will personally work on your case, and have the necessary experience to help you plan and carry out your defense. Call us for a free consultation and allow us to review your case. When facing criminal charges it is important to have a compassionate, and aggressive attorney at your side. Contact us today for a free consultation.