Assault / Aggravated Assault
Under Florida law, you can be charged with assault if you make a threat towards someone else, even if you didn’t actually harm him or her. Often assaults are misdemeanors. However, when there are certain aggravating factors present, prosecutors may charge a perpetrator with aggravated assault, which can carry a harsh sentence upon conviction, even for first time offenders. If you are charged with either of these offenses, skilled Fort Lauderdale assault defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman of The Hoffman Firm can help you develop a defense.Assault
Under Florida Statute section 784.011, assault is defined as an intentional and illegal threat to perform violence against someone else with the apparent ability to do so, and also doing an act that generates a well-founded fear in someone else that this type of violence is imminent. You can be charged with assault after an altercation even if nobody was physically injured in the altercation.
Simple assault is usually charged as a second degree misdemeanor that may be punished by a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail and up to $500 fine. When the victim is a member of a protected class under state law, simple assault can be punished with up to 1 year in jail and up to $1000.
To establish assault, a prosecutor must show beyond a reasonable doubt the following factors: (1) you intentionally and unlawfully threatened (2) with words or acts, (3) to do violence to the victim, (4) you seemed able to follow through with your threats, and (5) your acts or words created in the victim a well-founded fear she was about to become a victim of violence. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale can challenge the prosecution’s attempts to prove these elements.Aggravated Assault
Aggravated assault can be charged when certain factors are present. Under Florida Statute section 784.021, an offender can be charged with aggravated assault where there is an assault that is performed with a deadly weapon or the intent to perpetrate a felony. Deadly weapons are those that are used or threatened to be used such that great bodily harm or death is achieved. This type of aggravated assault is a third degree felony offense that may be punished by up to five years of imprisonment and up to $5000 in fines.
There are certain protected classes. When assault is perpetrated against a member of the protected class, it can be classified as a second degree felony aggravated assault. For example, if the victim is a law enforcement officer, EMT, firefighter, registered nurse, ambulance driver, paramedic, doctor, bus operator, elected official, train operator, probation officer, parole officer, or performs certain other types of jobs, aggravated assault may be charged. Conviction for aggravated assault on a police officer carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years in prison. A mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years in prison is also imposed where the victim is 65 years or older. Second degree felonies can be punished with a maximum of 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Aggravated assault is taken very seriously by the court, and a dedicated Fort Lauderdale assault defense attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system if you are facing charges of this nature. Even if you are a first time offender, if you plead guilty to aggravated assault, you become ineligible to have your arrest or criminal record expunged or sealed. This means that you will have a permanent criminal record that members of the public can access. Often those with permanent criminal records find it challenging to find a job, secure housing, or obtain necessary loans.Defenses
There are defenses that may be available to you if you are charged with assault or aggravated assault. Often these are cases that hinge on the testimony of the victim, and there may be holes in the victim’s account of what happened. Sometimes a threat is a conditional threat in which violence is threatened at a future date, and not imminently. This would not constitute assault. Similarly, if the threat is not one that justifies in the victim a fear that you would actually follow through, this would not constitute assault. If the victim is not actually afraid of being harmed, assault cannot be established.Assault Defense Attorney Serving Fort Lauderdale Residents
The Hoffman Firm may be able to assist you if you have been charged with assault or aggravated assault in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in Broward County. We represent clients in areas including Pembroke Pines, Sunrise, Davie, Plantation, and Deerfield Beach. We can be reached at (954) 524-4474 or through our online form for a free, confidential consultation.