Assault and Aggravated Assault in Florida

People commonly confuse the terms “assault” and “battery.” These terms and the elements of charge can vary in different States.

In Florida, the crime of assault refers to acts that threaten, by word or action, to do physical violence or harm. A person does not need to be injured for an assault to occur. The elements of an assault are below. It is important to note that the crime of assault requires intent on the part of the person charged, the ability to carry out the threat at the time the assault occurs, and that the alleged victim has a well-founded hear that violence is about to occur.

In Florida, the crime of battery is the intentional touching or striking of a person; a punch, a shove, or a thrown object that hits a person are examples of a battery. There are multiple varieties of battery, including simple battery, domestic battery, felony battery, aggravated battery and sexual battery. Each variation of battery has its own elements and sentencing score. Battery is a serious criminal offense often arising from heated arguments, alcohol-fueled fights or from the act of defending oneself, another or property. If you have been charged with this crime, there is much that a knowledgeable attorney can do to get your charges dismissed, alleviate Court penalties, or raise affirmative defenses.

Assault Lawyer in Tampa, FL

The consequences of being arrested and convicted of assault can be serious. If you have been accused of assault, it is important to hire a criminal defense lawyer that you trust to protect your rights, provide assistance in navigating the court process, and to help you achieve the best result possible depending on the specific facts of your case.

Attorney Chris Beardslee is an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer serving the Tampa Bay area, including Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota counties.

He is dedicated to not only providing the best legal advice and defense for your case, but also to making sure that you are informed about the process and your legal options along the way.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your case or any current charges, our office is happy to help.

Contact The Law Office of Chris Beardslee for a free consultation today. Call 813-496-7778 or fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you to discuss the best strategies for your case.

Assault (§ 784.011, Fla. Stat.)

An assault occurs when one person places another person in fear or apprehension of imminent bodily injury. This can take place in the form of menacing threats, throwing a punch (but not actually hitting the intended target) or brandishing a weapon.

To prove the crime of Assault, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. (Defendant) intentionally and unlawfully threatened, either by word or act, to do violence to (victim).
  2. At the time, (defendant) appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat. 
  3. The act of (defendant) created in the mind of (victim) a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place.
Attorney Chris Beardslee Explains Assault in Florida

Aggravated Assault (§ 784.021, Fla. Stat.)

An aggravated assault occurs when there is an assault but where certain aggravating circumstances are present.

  1. (Defendant) intentionally and unlawfully threatened, either by word or act, to do violence to (victim).
  2. At the time, (defendant) appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat.
  3. The act of (defendant) created in the mind of (victim) a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place.
    1. The assault was made with a deadly weapon.
    2. The assault was made with a fully-formed, conscious intent to commit (felony charged) upon (victim).

To prove the crime of Aggravated Assault, the State must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The first three elements define Assault.

Attorney Chris Beardslee Explains Aggravated Assault in Florida

Penalties for Assault Charges

In Florida, Simple Assault is a second degree misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 60 days in jail and fines. Other collateral issues, such as injunctions, restraining orders, or no contact orders can accompany an assault charge.

Aggravated Assault is a third degree felony, with penalties of up to 5 years in prison or 5 years probation, and a $5,000.00 fine. The offense is serious and even first-time offenders can face a realistic possibility of jail or prison time.

The range of punishments can increase substantially, to include mandatory prison of up to 20 years, where a firearm is discharged during the course of an incident.

Defenses to Assault Charges

The law recognizes several defenses to the crimes of assault and aggravated assault. As you discuss the facts of your case with your defense attorney, it is vital to include all facts of the incident and how those facts may or may not apply to the elements of the charge. Every element of the charge must be present and proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Attorney Chris Beardslee Explains Defenses to Assault