Florida Assault Charges:

In Florida, simple assault (or “misdemeanor assault”) occurs when a person, either verbally or by their actions, makes an intentional threat towards another person and creates a well-founded fear of imminent harm or violence. Under Florida Statutes § 784.011 assault is classified as a Second Degree Misdemeanor, punishable by up to a maximum of 60 days in jail, 6 months of supervised probation, and/or up to a maximum of a $500.00 fine.

If the intended victim was a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical professional or protected school personnel (referees, umpires, etc), you will be charged with an enhanced assault charge raising it up to a First Degree Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison, 1 year probation or $1,000 fine.

To be convicted of simple assault or misdemeanor assault in Florida, the State must prove three elements: (1) you intentionally and unlawfully threatened, by word or act, to do violence to the alleged victim; (2) at the time the threat was made, you had the apparent ability to be able to carry out the threat (See Willard v. State, 386 So. 2d 869 (Fla. 1st DCA 1980)); and (3) your threat created in the mind of the alleged victim a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place.

A key element in proving an assault charge is proving that the violence was actually iminent. The intended victim has to be in fear that harm would occur immediately right then and there, not at some later time. H.W. v. State, 79 So.3d 143 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2012)(juvenile threatening that something was going to happen “that day” was insufficient to meet the imminent element); Butler v. State, 632 So.2d 684, 685 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994) stating threat by Butler to girlfriend to physically harm her if she is around another male, “sets out a conditional threat to do injury at some unspecified future time based upon a possible eventuality, and this does not constitute an assault. So the defenses to an assault charge that may be asserted as a defense could include arguing that the threat was conditional, there was unreasonable fear, or that the threatened harm was not imminent.

Florida Aggravated Assault:

Aggravated Assault is an enhancement from simple assault. If you committed assault which involved either a deadly weapon or the intent to commit a felony, you may be charged with aggravated assault. Under Florida Statutes § 784.021 Aggravated Assault is classified as a Third Degree Felony, punishable by up to a maximum of up to five (5) years in prison, five (5) years probation, and/or up to a maximum of a $5,000.00 fine.

The use, involvement or possession of a weapon is an essential element of Aggravated Assault in Florida. See Perez v. State, 431 So.2d 274 (Fla. 5th DCA 1983); Goswick v. State, Fla.1962, 143 So.2d 817Colainni v. State, Fla.App.1971, 245 So.2d 893; Monroe v. State, Fla.App.1975, 318 So.2d 571.

Whether a weapon will be classified as a “deadly weapon” is a question of fact, but it has been defined to be one likely to produce death or great bodily injury. Making threats towards someone while carrying a knife or gun outside a car while the person is sitting inside of a car with a closed window may be enough to support a conviction for Aggravated Assault, for example.  King v. State, 12 So. 3d 1271 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009).


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