Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charges in Jacksonville, FL
Assault, like all violent behavior, can result in criminal charges with life changing outcomes. Over 100,000 assaults occur in the state of Florida on a yearly basis, and the courts take allegations very seriously. When the state alleges that a deadly weapon was used the potential ramifications increase significantly. As simple as this sounds, Assault with a Deadly Weapon is a complicated charge that is difficult to understand. “Assault” and “deadly weapon” are legal terms with very specific meanings which may or may not match up with ordinary use of these words. If you have been charged, contact an experienced violent crime defense attorney in Jacksonville today!
What is Assault with a Deadly Weapon?
Assault is defined by Florida Statutes § 784.011(1) as “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.” The word “Assault” in every-day speech normally refers to attacking someone, possibly hitting them, or even using some kind of weapon. According to the law of the State of Florida, a person can be charged with Assault for only a threat. This helps to explain both the frequency of assault charges and the mystery surrounding them.
Regular Assault is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor. A second-degree misdemeanor carries up to 60 days of jail and does not tag the offender as a felon. If a deadly weapon is used, the results can be catastrophically worse. If a deadly weapon is used, a person can be charged under Florida Statutes § 748.021, which is a third-degree felony. This charge assumes there is no intent to kill, which would be attempted murder. A simple threat with a deadly weapon can result in a felony such as this, and up to five years in prison. If you or someone you know has been charged with Aggravated Assault for use of a deadly weapon, the entire process can be very confusing, it’s crucial to hire an assault attorney who can help you navigate the process. Even the very definition of Deadly Weapon is open to litigation and the subjective whim of judges.
What is a Deadly Weapon Under Florida Statutes § 748.021?
Any Jacksonville Assault Attorney, or a Weapon Crime Attorney located somewhere else who says they can conclusively make a list of what is and what is not a deadly weapon under Florida law, is wrong or not telling the truth. A quick read of the statute in question will show that there is very little contained within, and nothing alluding to what a deadly weapon is. This has been left up to the courts to decide. There are some extremely obvious candidates, such as guns and knives. The definition has been expanded to contain moving vehicles, glass bottles, and at least once a blow gun dart that penetrated the skin by an inch (and did not require medical treatment) was considered a deadly weapon. For every “weapon” the courts have rejected as deadly, something generally used for a completely different purpose has been allowed to count.
This is part of the reason it is so important to make sure charges such as these are met head on by a qualified Duval Defense Attorney who will fight for your rights until the best possible outcome has been reached. Someone who will investigate every possible defense in order to stand up for you.
Defenses to an Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charge
Assault with a Deadly Weapon shares most of its possible defenses with Assault, but there are some unique defenses available.
- General Denial – Useful when eyewitness testimony makes up all or a bulk of the evidence.
- False Allegations – Unfortunately, some people lie to the police. Oftentimes false allegations of Assault with a Deadly Weapon can be snuffed out long before trial.
- Not a Deadly Weapon – As stated above, the definition of “deadly weapon” is very subjective – many are charged with a household item not used to harm others – and Assault is the more appropriate charge.
- Self-Defense – Possibly the most utilized and least understood defense to Assault charges. Self-defense can be utilized when a person reasonably believes the conduct is necessary to defend themselves from someone else’s use of unlawful force. The law surrounding it is convoluted, and at times difficult to understand, but in some cases can be sought to completely exonerate the defendant.
- Defense of Others – Defense of another person is nearly identical to self-defense, but occurs when someone else is in danger and third party steps in.
- Defense of Property – There are very limited circumstances where non-deadly force can be used in defense of property. Since we’re discussing Assault with a Deadly Weapon, there will be a lot of cases where defense of property is not justified. Keeping in mind that Assault can be charged on just a threat, it is very possible that these charges can be defeated using a Defense of Property defense.
- Inability to Harm – Assault requires there to be an imminent ability to actually harm the person, and sometimes this element can be used to poke a glaring hole in the State’s entire case.
Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney
Lee Lockett and legal team at Lockett Law are based out of Duval County, but travel all over North Florida to defend the rights of others. The team is prepared to defend your rights if you have been accused of assault with a deadly weapon in or out of Jacksonville. Mr. Lockett understands how prosecutors work and how they think, he began his career prosecuting cases for the state. He learned how these cases work and he shifted that skillset to begin defending the rights of the accused and ensuring justice is served. Call a Jacksonville assault lawyer today at (904) 858-9818 or connect with our team in the chat window on the bottom right of your screen to have an open and free consultation.