Defenses Against a Charge of Aggravated Assault
Aggravated assault in Florida is a serious criminal act. Under Florida Stat. §784.021 anyone convicted of aggravated assault, a felony crime in the third degree, can be jailed for up to five years and pay a fine of up to $5,000. But what exactly is aggravated assault? What makes assault ‘aggravated’ and are there any ways that a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can defend someone accused of this crime?
Assault and aggravated assault
An assault in Florida is any threat of violence against anyone else. It doesn’t involve physical force, but there must be a threat of using force and the ability to carry out the threat as well. An assault is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida. What changes a simple assault to an aggravated assault is when someone has a deadly weapon and uses it as a threat against someone else. By a deadly weapon, that means anything that could be used to kill someone else. Aggravated assault in Florida is a third degree felony and can lead to a penalty of up to 5 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
To convict someone of aggravated assault, prosecutors must be able to prove four things:
A threat of violence was made intentionally. The threat may be verbal or physical.
A deadly weapon was used in the threat, although there was no intention to kill the person that the threat was made against.
The threat was sufficient that the person threatened could feel fear that they would be harmed.
The threat was capable of being carried out.
Defenses against a charge of aggravated assault
There are several ways that a defense could be constructed.
The defendant could be acting in self-defense.
The defendant did not intend to threaten anyone.
The defendant was incapable of carrying out the threat;
The deadly weapon was not a deadly weapon e.g. it was a toy pistol or unloaded gun of any type.
If a charge like aggravated assault cannot be dismissed altogether, there is always the possibility that a lesser charge can be pleaded. For example, one step down from aggravated assault is improper exhibition of a firearm (or another deadly weapon like a knife). The dividing line between these two charges might seem relatively thin, but the consequences are significant. Improper exhibition is a first degree misdemeanor with a jail sentence of up to a year, not five years like aggravated assault. (Fla. Stat. § 790.10)
So, what’s the difference between aggravated assault and improper exhibition of a firearm? Both involve using a deadly weapon. It’s the intention that is the distinct difference. An aggravated assault involves the intentional use of a threat of violence against a person or persons. Improper exhibition of a firearm does not involve a threat against anyone in particular. Although the brandishing of a sharp knife or a gun in public may be a real concern (the statute refers to showing the weapon in an angry, careless, rude or threatening manner) it is less likely to end in real violence.
A defense against this lesser charge may still be available if it can be proved that the defendant was just trying to defend themselves or the deadly weapon turned out to be not deadly (as already mentioned above).
If you have been arrested for a crime of violence, you will need effective legal representation. It is your right to be defended in court. You cannot be convicted unless the prosecution has sufficient evidence that can prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that you committed the offense. You should contact Miami criminal defense attorney, Albert Quirantes, at 305-644-1800.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, please call us today at (305) 644-1800 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free, confidential initial consultation.
If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: (305) 644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.