Assault Charges: A Serious Offense

Fort Lauderdale and Florida take assault charges seriously. You will have to thoroughly understand your options by working closely with your criminal defense attorney and formulating a strategy for realistic results. Read on to learn more.

What is an Assault?

According to Florida law, “an ‘assault’ in 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.”

Broken down, this can mean that you don’t even have to place your hands on another, and you could still be charged with assault if that person realistically believes the threat of violence is upon them. The act of you actually touching them, rather than a threat, could result in a battery charge.

How Does Assault Vary From a Battery Charge?

As the laws are written in Florida, an assault charge can stem from the threat of violence, while a battery charge results from actual violence, meaning you would have had to place your hands on someone and inflict violence. These two terms typically go hand-in-hand, as those who usually make violent threats may move forward with those threats by actually inflicting harm.

The important note to make with this is that even if you aren’t planning to harm the person, making threats that you will lead to assault charges if the person can prove that they felt they were in imminent danger.

What is Simple Assault?

Simple assault refers to any threat of violence that puts another person in a realistic fear of impending harm, coupled with the ability to carry out that threat. It’s essential to have both aspects clear for the charges to be practical. For example, if you are making threats but cannot clearly carry them out, the charges against you may not be realistic.

Depending on the surrounding circumstances, simple assault can lead to a fine of up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail. Restitution to the other party may also be included. Restitution is the legal term describing paying something back that was lost to someone, meaning that you would owe the victim an amount of money designated by the courts for the threats they received. Simple assault is viewed as a 2nd-degree misdemeanor in Florida.

It’s important to note that even if you end up with zero jail time, fines, or restitution if convicted, the charge can remain on your record and cause issues in the future with anything from obtaining gainful employment or getting into the college of your choice, to being approved for a loan, and more.

What is Aggravated Assault in Florida?

The next step in assault is considered aggravated, and this simply means that coupled with your threats, you had access to a deadly weapon at the time, or it was on your person. If you were charged with aggravated assault, it means typically that there was no intent to obviously kill the person, which would incur even more severe charges.

An aggravated assault can lead to up to five years in prison, up to $5,000 in fines, and restitution. The reason for the significant increase is that an aggravated assault charge leads to a felony level rather than a misdemeanor. An aggravated assault charge is typically a third-degree felony in the eyes of Florida courts.

What Possible Defenses Are There Against Assault Charges?

The easiest way to view a defense against an assault charge is that the three parts listed above need to be apparent for the courts to convict you. For example, if it’s evident that you made a threat but could not act on it or gave the victim any realistic reason to believe you would move forward with the threat, the charges may not be clear, and therefore, you may avoid conviction.

One of the age-old defenses for assault is the he-said, she-said approach, in that it’s your word against the victim’s, possibly without clear evidence that a threat existed. For example, your criminal defense attorney could argue that you hadn’t made an actual threat, that you were speaking vaguely, or that you made a threat that wasn’t backed up by anything.

You could also argue that you had no intention of harm based on your inability to carry out the said threat or that you made no actions that would be perceived as a violent act to a reasonable person.

Other Possible Defenses

Of course, as with any charge based on a threat rather than physical evidence, you could challenge the threat’s credibility. If it’s found that the accusations are entirely false, you may have the charges dropped.

If you were acting in self-defense or another’s defense by threatening harm, you may have a realistic reason to protect yourself and may have the charges dropped or diminished.

In conclusion, you could prove through your criminal defense attorney that you did not intend to harm the other party, as that is one of the main components of an assault charge. You may avoid conviction if you made “hollow” threats without the intention to harm or the ability to.

Criminal Charge? Act Now

You must take these charges seriously, even if you understand that you realistically didn’t intend any harm. If you are up against the he-said, she-said, and you don’t have a strong attorney by your side, you may be unable to avoid the charges.

Call our office today at (786) 933-6242 for your free consultation and learn how we can help you with this serious matter. No one should face criminal charges alone.