You may have just heard that you or a loved one faces a criminal charge for assault – but what does “assault” mean? Florida law includes several possible charges under the general name of “assault.” To make matters even more confusing, the law uses the term “assault” differently than people do in ordinary conversation. Figuring out what “assault” occurred to raise the criminal charges you now face can be a battle – but you don’t have to fight it alone.
If you’re facing an assault charge in Florida, one thing is clear: you need to know your legal rights and options. It may be beneficial to have an attorney on your side who will fight to uncover all the facts in your situation, defend your legal rights, and argue passionately for the best possible outcome. At Farah & Farah, our Florida assault defense attorneys strive to do just that.
Florida’s Assault Laws
Sections 784.011 and 784.012 of the Florida Statutes divide assault charges generally into two categories, called “assault” and “aggravated assault.”
Although “assault” is sometimes called “simple assault” to distinguish it from “aggravated assault,” its definition has multiple parts. To establish that a person is guilty of assault, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that all of the following conditions occurred:
- an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to another person;
- an apparent ability to do the violence; and
- an act which creates a well-founded fear in the other person that such violence is imminent.
Notice that in Florida, an assault charge does not require the charged person to actually have hit or inflicted injury on the other person. Merely putting that person in fear of imminent harm may be enough for an assault charge.
“Aggravated assault” is a more serious charge in Florida and carries a stiffer penalty. The law defines an “aggravated assault” as an assault that is committed:
- with a deadly weapon, but without an intent to kill; or
- with an intent to commit a felony.
Like assault, aggravated assault doesn’t actually require an injury to occur. However, either the use of a weapon or the intention to commit a felony must be present.
What Are the Penalties for Assault in Florida?
Assault in Florida is a second-degree misdemeanor. This means that a person convicted of assault in the state faces up to 60 days in jail and $500 in fines. Other possible penalties include probation, anger management classes, court fees and costs, restitution, community service, and the requirement to obey a restraining order, just to name a few.
Aggravated assault in Florida is a third-degree felony. A person convicted of aggravated assault faces up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines, along with probation or parole requirements, court fees and costs, restitution, and other possible penalties. A felony record can also make it extremely difficult or impossible to carry out basic life tasks, like renting an apartment or finding a job. And any person convicted of multiple felonies in Florida faces a risk of being sentenced under the state’s “habitual offender” statute, which increases the length of prison terms and the size of fines.
The Defense You Need in Jacksonville, FL
At Farah & Farah, we’re passionate about protecting the legal rights of every person we represent. No matter how complex or confusing the charges you face, our assault attorneys will fight to defend your rights and pursue the best possible results. For a free and confidential case evaluation with a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our office at 855-797-9899 today.