Florida Assault Laws
First things first – do you know what the legal definitions of assault and aggravated assault in Florida are?
It may seem obvious, but don’t be so quick to assume. An experienced Orlando criminal lawyer will tell you that many people confuse assault with battery, which is physically causing harm to another person.
So if assault doesn’t involve beating someone up, what does it mean? The state of Florida defines assault as “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.”
In simple terms, you don’t even have to lay a hand on another person to “assault” them – you just have to threaten them and make them believe the threat. Aggravated assault is just like assault – a threat – but one where you use a “deadly weapon” like a knife or gun to do the threatening.
Put even clearer: all you have to do to be charged with assault in Kissimmee, Longwood, and other parts of central Florida is make someone feel like you’re threatening them through engaging in some kind of action. If a husband and wife argue and she says she’s going to cut his private parts off, that could technically be assault or domestic violence. The same with walking up to a buddy and acting like you’re going to hit him. As long as the other party believes you have the ability to act on your threat, you could be charged with assault.
You might think the above examples sound silly, but central Florida criminal attorneys have long found that many assault charges are simply fights between friends and loved ones that have gotten out of hand. Things got too heated, one person called the authorities, and the cops just decided to arrest everyone and figure out who is responsible later.
Unfortunately, while the fight that originated the assault charges might have been trivial, the charge itself is not. Assault in Florida law is a second degree misdemeanor that could land you in jail for up to 60 days and cost you $500. And if you happen to get charged with aggravated assault – like, for example, if you threw a vase during that argument with your spouse, which could be considered a deadly weapon in this instance – the charge becomes a third degree felony that could send you away for 5 years and cost you $5,000 in fines! Quite a difference for just throwing something in anger.
Luckily, the legal system is full of rational people who know that the law was not intended to punish such things so harshly. An experienced Kissimmee criminal defense lawyer can help you to beat charges like these, by showing you how to get the case dismissed entirely, or get your charges greatly reduced. Many times, victims change their stories or don’t want to press charges anymore. These cases should be summarily dismissed, but many prosecutors won’t admit their case is weak unless challenged in court by a criminal lawyer who’s researched the facts. And if you are charged with felony aggravated assault, a good criminal defense lawyer can argue to have your charges reduced to a misdemeanor.
No two cases are the same – but the methods by which they can be fought often are. Before it even comes to a trial, an experienced Orlando criminal attorney will work to get your charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed, and argue for diversion programs or probation instead of jail or prison time. And if you do have to go to trial, they’ll challenge the prosecution on every point, thoroughly investigate witnesses, and file motions to suppress.
If you’re charged with assault or aggravated assault in Orlando or the surrounding counties of Orange and Osceola, you need an experienced criminal lawyer willing to fight for your rights.