The term “assault” is often used to describe a violent attack of another person, but this definition is only appropriate outside the context of the law. Under Florida law, striking or hurting someone is actually charged as a Battery. Assault includes verbal-only encounters, or verbal threats with overt actions made. A charge of assault can stem from the wrong statements made out of anger in the blink of an eye. The ramifications are anything but quick, and can be absolutely devastating and life altering. If you have been accused of Assault in the state of Florida, contact a qualified Jacksonville criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
What is Misdemeanor Assault?
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.” This means that as long as there’s no glaring reason why a person wouldn’t be able to carry out the threat (disability, distance, etc.), a charge of Assault can be filed by the state if there is so much as a threat of violence.
Assault without any aggravating circumstances (such as a weapon) is charged as Simple Assault. Simple Assault is a second-degree misdemeanor. A second-degree misdemeanor carries up to 60 days of jail and a $500 fine. If the victim falls into a series of categories outlined in Florida Statutes § 784.07(2), the penalties increase to a first degree misdemeanor. The groups of people covered by this statute are:
- law enforcement officer,
- emergency medical care provider,
- railroad special officer,
- traffic accident investigation officer,
- nonsworn law enforcement agency employee who is certified as an agency inspector,
- blood alcohol analyst, or a breath test operator,
- law enforcement explorer,
- traffic infraction enforcement officer, and
- security officer wearing a uniform.
A first-degree misdemeanor for assaulting one of the above carries up to a full year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
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. These charges are all able to be pursued without any kind of actual violence.
Assault vs Battery: What’s the Difference?
Battery is a little bit different from assault and occurs when a person intentionally touches a person against their will or intentionally causes bodily harm. Battery is outlined in Florida Statutes § 784.03, and is a first degree misdemeanor. Assault and Battery are often discussed together. First, this is because outside the law, both terms are used interchangeably. Second, Assault and Battery are frequently charged together. When an individual threatens to hurt someone and then carries out that threat, it’s likely they hit the threshold for both charges to be levied by the state.
Legal Defenses to Misdemeanor Assault
- General Denial – This is utilized when the State cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the threat was made, or that they have the right person.
- False Allegations – If falsely accused, shedding light on the truth can make the charges disappear.
- Self-Defense – If a threat is necessary to reasonably defend yourself, but assault charges are still filed, a self-defense claim is the most appropriate way to handle the case.
- 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, 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 Assault and Battery 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 anywhere in the state of Florida. 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 feel free to send a text message to that number. Otherwise, connect with our team in the chat window on the bottom right of your screen to have an open and free consultation.