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What Constitutes an Aggravated Assault?

The penalties for aggravated assault or aggravated battery in Florida are very serious, and the accused could face even harsher enhanced penalties depending on the status of the alleged victim. In today’s blog, we will discuss the elements of aggravated assault/battery, what constitutes the use of a deadly weapon in theses cases, and the specific sentencing rules to anticipate based on specific charges of the aggravated assault/battery.

Elements of Aggravated Assault/Battery

Under Florida law, an “aggravated assault” is a type of assault with use of a deadly weapon or with an intent to commit a felony. Note that assault does not require an intent to injure, only the intent to cause the victim fear of an immediate attack. For instance, directing a gun at another person to scare them is enough to be considered aggravated assault.

A person commits aggravated battery, on the hand, when they commit battery:

  • intentionally or knowingly to cause great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or
  • using a deadly weapon.

A person also commits aggravated battery if the alleged victim was pregnant at the time of the offense and the offender knew or should have known that they were pregnant.

What Constitutes a “Deadly Weapon?”

An object or substance that is inherently dangerous, such as a firearm, knife, bleach, or other dangerous poison, is considered a deadly weapon in a case of aggravated assault/battery. An object that is not inherently dangerous but that an offender uses or threatens to use in a way likely to cause death or great bodily harm is also considered a deadly weapon. For example, if a person is wearing a heavy and steel-toed boot and threatens to kick someone, the action could be charged as an aggravated battery or assault with a deadly weapon because the person used the boots in a manner that could cause serious injury or even death.

Some other less obvious examples of deadly weapons in these cases depending on how they are used could be:

  • cars,
  • golf clubs,
  • pocketknives,
  • shoes,
  • canes,
  • stones.

Note that even parts of the human body can be deadly weapons, such as feet, knees, arms, and teeth. For example, people who are aware of their HIV+ status and who have unprotected sex with another person may be charged with aggravated sexual assault.

Penalties and Sentencing

Aggravated Assault/Battery Penalties

Aggravated assault is charged as a third degree felony, which can result in:

  • up to 5 years of jail time,
  • a fine of up to $5,000,
  • probation for up to 5 years,
  • restitution.

Aggravated battery is charged as a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000, as well as possible probation time and required restitution.

Note that in Florida, a person found guilty of aggravated assault or battery is required to pay restitution, which is the reimbursement to the victim of any expenses resulting from the crime, such as the cost of medical treatment or counseling. While restitution is normally part of the sentencing, the court may decide not to require restitution for compelling reasons.

Enhanced Penalties Against “Special Victim” Cases

Aggravated assault against certain special victims is considered a second degree felony, and aggravated battery against these victims is a first degree felony. The following people are considered “special victims” if the assault or battery occurs while they are engaged in the performance of their duties:

  • law enforcement officer or firefighter,
  • emergency medical care provider,
  • breath test operator engaged in testing persons under investigation for DWI,
  • public transport employee,
  • parking enforcement officer,
  • licensed security officer,
  • employee at a detention or commitment facility for sexually violent offenders, and
  • code inspector.

The following people are considered “special victims” even when they are not engaged in the performance of their duties:

  • employee or investigator for the Children and Family Services Department,
  • a person over the age of 65 years,
  • sports official while participating in a sporting event or immediately after the event,
  • school employee or elected official, and
  • visitor or detainee in a jail or correctional facility.

Those convicted of aggravated assault against a special victim could face a second degree felony charge punishable by:

  • up to 15 years in prison (minimum of 3 years if the alleged victim is a law enforcement officer),
  • a fine of up to $10,000,
  • probation for up to 15 years, and
  • restitution.

The penalties for aggravated battery against a special victim, considered a first degree felony, are:

  • up to 30 years in prison (minimum of 5 years if the alleged victim is a law enforcement officer),
  • a fine of up to $10,000,
  • probation for up to 30 years, and
  • restitution.

Defend Against Charges with Hubbs Law, P.A.

If you are facing aggravated assault/battery charges, you and your attorney have a few different defense tactics you could employ in your case. Some common arguments a defendant might make are claiming:

  • Accident
  • Lack of intent
  • Consent given for physical contact
  • Self-defense
  • Defense of another person
  • Defense against harm to property

Our team at Hubbs Law, P.A. can take a look at the facts of your case and craft an effective defense against your charge based on your circumstances. Our attorneys could argue that you acted in self-defense, you were falsely accused of using a deadly weapon, or that the alleged victim is not, in fact, classified as a special victim under Florida law. Whatever you need for your case, you can trust Hubbs Law, P.A. to fight for your defense and represent you aggressively in trial.

Speak with one of our attorneys at Hubbs Law, P.A. today for more information.

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