Aggravated Assault occurs when one person commits an Assault on another person using a deadly weapon or any object that could cause great bodily harm, or it is an assault with the intent to commit a felony, without the intent to kill. Physical contact is not necessary to be charged with Aggravated Assault.Definition of Aggravated Assault in Florida
The crime of Aggravated Assault, as defined by § 784.021, Florida Statutes, is an Assault with a deadly weapon, or an Assault with the intent to commit a felony.
The State’s attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime of Aggravated Assault by establishing that all four of the following elements of the crime occurred:
Penalties for Aggravated Assault in Florida
(1) The defendant intentionally and unlawfully threatened, by word or act, to do violence to another.
This means the State of Florida must prove that the defendant intended to threaten the alleged victim, not that the defendant intended to harm the victim. While nobody can read minds, intent can be inferred by evidence surrounding the crime.
(2) The defendant had the apparent ability to carry out the threat of harm at the time the threat was made.
This means the State of Florida must prove that whatever act was threatened appeared to be able to be carried out, instantly. One example where the State might not be able to do this might be where someone threatens an act that requires a weapon, but doesn’t have a weapon or the ability to retrieve one instantly.
(3) The defendant’s words or actions created a well-founded fear in the mind of the other person of imminent violence.
This means the State of Florida must prove not only that the victim was in fear that act of violence was about to take place, but also that the fear was well-founded. Well-founded, as used here, basically requires that fear to have been reasonable in light of the circumstances. This can be shown if the words or actions would ordinarily bring on a well-founded fear in the mind of a reasonable person.
(4) The threat was made (a) with a deadly weapon; or (b) with the intent to commit a felony
It is this final element which separates Aggravated Assault from simple Assault. There are two possible ways the State can prove the final element. The State must tell you in the charging document which they intend to prove.
The State of Florida may allege use of a” deadly weapon”. Whether or not something is a “deadly weapon” is shockingly broadly defined by the law. At times, it seems anything can be deadly if used in the right way at law.
Whether or not someone made a threat with an intent to commit a felony requires the State of Florida to prove an entirely separate intent.
When the threat furthers a separately charged, provable crime, this element might be easier to satisfy. Where the other crime never happens, the reason for the threat might be harder for the State of Florida to prove.
Aggravated assault is a third degree felony punishable by imprisonment for up to five (5) years, and a fine of up to $5000, as provided in §775.082 and § 775.083, Florida Statutes.
If a firearm is used during the assault, or worse discharged, there is a possibility of the crime could be punished under the “10-20-Life” Law.
The relationship between a Defendant and the victim may also cause the crime to be defined as a crime of Domestic Violence under §741.28, Florida Statutes. This brings separate required sanctions by the Court.
Habitual felony offenders, habitual violent felony offenders, three time violent felony offenders, Prison Releasee Re-offenders, and violent career criminals are subject to significantly extended terms of imprisonment.
Finally, there are a host of potential lifelong consequences to both your civil rights, as well as your personal and professional opportunities.Defenses to Aggravated Assault in Florida
Aggravated Assault is a violent crime and a serious criminal offense. Under Florida law, the defense for an Aggravated Assault depends on the specific circumstances. Defenses may include:
- Self Defense or Defense of Other(s)
- Stand Your Ground
- Necessity or duress with no choice due to imminent danger
- False allegation
- Inability to carry out the threat
- Object used is not a deadly weapon
- The alleged threat was to commit a violent act some time in the future or contingent on something else happening first (conditional threat)
- Threatening to strike a person with a weapon or object that can do bodily harm
- Pointing a loaded or unloaded gun, or a realistic toy gun, at another person
- Threatening harm to a person or persons while robbing a bank with or without a weapon
If you have been charged with the crime of Aggravated Assault in Broward, Palm Beach, or Miami-Dade County, you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney right away to ensure your rights are protected. The Law Office of Sean Clayton, P.A., can help you better understand your situation and your options. Contact us today for your free consultation.