In Florida, the crime of aggravated assault is defined as an intentional and unlawful threat against another person with a deadly weapon, or while in the commission of a felony, which creates a reasonable fear that violence or harm is imminent. [Florida Statute 784.021]
What is Considered a Deadly Weapon?
A weapon is a “deadly weapon” if it is used or threatened to be used in a way likely to produce death or great bodily harm.
Penalties for Aggravated Assault
In Florida, the crime of Aggravated Assault is classified as a Third Degree Felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison, five (5) years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.
Aggravated Assault is assigned a Level 6 offense severity ranking under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code and a judge may sentence a person convicted of Aggravated Assault to probation, but may also impose a sentence up to the statutory maximum of five years in prison.
Public Safety Reclassification and Sentence Enhancement
Aggravated Assault is reclassified from a Third Degree Felony to a Second Degree Felony if the victim was a Law Enforcement Officer, Firefighter, or EMT. Additionally, the defendant will be facing a mandatory minimum sentence of three (3) years in prison.
Permanent Criminal Record
Unlike many crimes, even if you are a first-time offender and you plea to Aggravated Assault you will be ineligible to ever have your arrest or court records sealed or expunged – meaning you will have a permanent criminal record.
Defenses to Aggravated Assault
In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, common defenses specific to the crime of Aggravated Assault include:
- Conditional Threat
- Idle Threats
- Unreasonable Fear
A statement that sets out a conditional threat to commit a violent act at some unspecified point in the future based upon a possible eventuality does not constitute an assault (although it could constitute another crime such as Disorderly Conduct). [Butler v. State, 632 So. 2d 684 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994)]
A mere idle threat, unaccompanied by any physical act that justifies a belief that the person will actually follow through with the threat, does not constitute an assault. [HW v. State, 79 So. 3d 143 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2012)]
If, while being “threatened”, the accuser was taunting the defendant or did not actually believe the defendant would follow through with the threat, a later claim of assault – usually a result of pettiness or revenge – will be ruled unreasonable because the accuser did not actually feel threatened.
Contact Fort Myers Criminal Defense Lawyer Mary Elizabeth Fletcher
If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of aggravated assault in Southwest Florida or the Fort Myers area, contact criminal defense lawyer Mary Elizabeth Fletcher today. The initial consultation is free and our offices are always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken to ensure a favorable outcome. Simply contact us online or give us a call at (239) 677-7685.