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Under the Florida Statutes, Chapter 784, Section 784.011, an "assault" is an act of hostility or aggression against another person, including a verbal or physical threat. "Simple" assault is a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida. (The similar but separate offense of "battery" [F.S. § 784.03] is an intentional act that causes harmful or offensive contact with another person.)
Aggravated assault (F.S. § 784.021) is when a person either commits assault with a deadly weapon or commits an assault with a "fully-formed, conscious intent" to commit a felony crime against another person, elevates an assault charge from a second-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony in Florida, with enhanced penalties.
Aggravated assault is the most common of all violent crimes in the U.S., accounting for about two-thirds of all violent crimes, as classified by the FBI. The trend holds in Miami-Dade County, where FBI Unified Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics reveal that there were 4,664 aggravated assaults in 2011 among 6,913 violent crimes (67 percent).
Hubbs Law Firm Can Defend You
If you were arrested for assault under F.S. § 784.011 or aggravated assault under F.S. § 784.021, you should strongly consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to discuss your case.
A criminal conviction for a violent crime will have both short-term and long-term consequences that should be considered before you go to court. By consulting with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer, you can learn about the charges and potential penalties. A qualified lawyer will also be able to assess a situation for possible defenses that may lead to a reduction or dismissal of the charges.
Hubbs Law Firm is experienced in defending assault and aggravated assault charges in the Miami area. Our legal team represents people from all over Miami-Dade County, including Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Hialeah, Miami Gardens, Homestead, The Hammocks, Cutler Bay, North Miami and South Miami, as well as other cities and communities throughout Greater Miami.
E.J. Hubbs is Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law by the Florida Bar. Board certification is the highest level of achievement for attorneys conferred by the Florida Bar and signifies experience and competency within an area of law and ethics and professionalism in practice.
Please call Hubbs Law Firm at (305) 570-4802 today to make an appointment to speak with our dedicated Miami assault and aggravated assault attorneys, who will meet you in person to discuss all the aspects of your case. Your initial consultation is free.
Definitions of Assault & Aggravated Assault in Florida
Depending on the circumstances of an alleged assault, the crime may be charged as simple assault, which is a second-degree misdemeanor, or aggravated assault, which is a third-degree felony.
The Florida Statute Title XLVI, Chapter 784, § 784.011 defines assault as "an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent."
The Florida Supreme Court's Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases § 8.1 enumerate the three elements that all must be proved beyond any reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction for assault:
- The defendant intentionally and unlawfully threatened, either by word or act, to do violence to the alleged victim
- At the time, the defendant appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat
- The act of the defendant created in the mind of the victim a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place
Note: Under F.S. § 777.04(f), attempting to commit an assault but failing or being prevented from carrying out the assault is punishable as a second-degree misdemeanor, the same charge and penalties as if the assault had been carried out.
According to Section 784.021 of the Florida Statutes and the Florida Supreme Court's Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases § 8.2, aggravated assault is:
- The assault was made with a deadly weapon; or
- The assault was made with a fully-formed, conscious intent to commit (the felony charged) upon the victim
The jury instructions may also include the following: "If the circumstances were such as to ordinarily induce a well-founded fear in the mind of a reasonable person, then the victim may be found to have been in fear, and actual fear on the part of the actual victim need not be shown." If a deadly weapon is allegedly used, "It is not necessary for the State to prove that the defendant had an intent to kill."
A deadly weapon is defined as a weapon that "is used or threatened to be used in a way likely to produce death or great bodily harm."
Note: Under F.S. § 777.04(d), attempting to commit an aggravated assault but failing or being prevented from carrying out the aggravated assault is punishable as a third-degree felony, the same charge and penalties as if the aggravated assault had been carried out.
Penalties for Assault & Aggravated Assault in Florida
Assault is a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Aggravated Assault is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon or firearm (F.S. § 790.10) is a lesser offense than aggravated assault, but a more serious offense than "simple" assault. A violation of this law is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Possible Legal Defenses for Assault Charges
Assault is not always a crime. It is a legitimate defense to an assault charge if "consent" was granted; if the "victim" consented, no crime was committed. Boxing or other contact sports are examples of when consent is often granted.
A person accused of assault may also be able to successfully claim self-defense or the defense of another or others. A person is legally permitted to defend himself or herself by using a reasonable amount of force against another person to prevent injury or to quell an imminent threat. Self-defense requires a showing of an immediate threat. In certain situations, Florida's stand-your-ground law (F.S. § 776.013) may qualify as a defense to a charge of assault as a justifiable use of force.
Find an Attorney for Assault or Aggravated Assault Charges in Miami
If you were charged with assault or aggravated assault in Miami, Florida or throughout Miami-Dade County, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss the circumstances of your case.
At Hubbs Law Firm, we defend the rights of clients charged with assault, aggravated assault, or similar crimes in Miami and Miami-Dade County. Our team represents clients throughout Miami-Dade County, including the cities of Hialeah, Miami Gardens, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, North Miami, South Miami, Kendall, Homestead, or anywhere else in Florida's most populous county.
Our attorneys know about possible defenses to assault charges and will do everything possible to resolve your assault case in the best possible way. We may be able to earn a reduction or dismissal of charges.
Call Hubbs Law Firm today at (305) 570-4802 to schedule a free initial appointment to discuss your case.
- Florida Statutes, Title XLVI, Chapter 784, § 784.011 — Assault — Read the language of the Florida law related to assault.
- Florida Statutes, Title XLVI, Chapter 784, § 784.021 — Aggravated Assault — Read the language of the Florida law related to aggravated assault.
- Florida Supreme Court Standard Jury Instructions for Criminal Cases, 8.1 (Assault) and 8.2 (Aggravated Assault) — Find the exact jury instructions that are given to juries in cases of assault and aggravated assault in Florida.
Attorneys E.J. & Erika Hubbs
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