If you have been charged with assault, it’s always a serious charge, and your defense should begin immediately. There are many types of assault, and—though you may have acted harshly in anger—you could have crossed the line and been charged. This is where an assault and battery law firm can help.
The general definition of assault, under the current laws, includes even making a threat of violence to another. Assault will usually be charged when a person, by word or act, makes an intentional threat to commit violence towards another person. Additionally, you also must have the apparent ability to carry out the threat, and you must also commit an act that creates a well-founded fear in the other person that such violence is imminent.
Simple assault is usually charged as a misdemeanor and is the least serious form of assault. It involves a minor injury or a limited threat of violence. Predominantly, this type of assault is a physical attack, like pushing or slapping someone in an argument. It may seem like nothing, and no one was injured, but you can be charged.
As a general rule, you can be charged with assault if the following actions have been committed:
- You gave the intent to threaten or cause fear of harm to another person, either through words or gestures
- The victim believed that physical harm would result from your actions and that you could and would carry them out
We have started with an example of simple assault, but the crimes of assault, battery, and aggravated assault all carry different definitions and severity of punishments.
The crimes of assault, battery, and aggravated assault all do involve you intentionally inflicting harm on another. Any crime involving a physical attack (or possibly even the threat of an attack) is usually classified as an assault, a battery, or both.
Depending on how seriously you attacked the other party (or the type of weapon you used), can raise the charge and the concurrent penalties accordingly. The charge can rise to the level of aggravated assault, which carries even more severe fines and jail time. Even fighting can lead to an assault charge, even if you and the other party agreed to fight.
It’s extremely important to note that there is usually a great deal of confusion involved due to the belief that assault and battery are the same crime, or that they are necessarily linked. You might be confused as to why you are being charged for threats that did not lead to an actual physical injury. Though it is certainly true that assault and battery often appear together, in truth, they are two separate and independent crimes.
When you are charged with assault, you can be confused and fearful as to why you have even been charged and what may happen to you. You are also by now aware that assault covers many actions, and there are many different types of assault charges and penalties. Consulting immediately with a Tampa criminal defense attorney is vital to fully understanding the gravity of the charge against you. Your criminal defense attorney is equipped to diagnose the details of your case, make sure that your rights are protected, and possibly even get the charges dropped.
What Are Some of the Types of Assault in Florida?
In Florida, assault charges can be broken down into two main categories based on what occurred at the time of your incident:
- Simple Assault: Also known as a misdemeanor assault, you should make note that even simple assault requires criminal intent to find you liable. No matter how minor the incident, the intent must be there to permit an assault charge. This can be a second-degree misdemeanor and usually has minor penalties involved, such as 60 days in jail, six months’ probation, and up to a $500 fine.
- Aggravated Assault: A step above simple assault, aggravated assault is essentially “assault with a deadly weapon” or “committing an assault during the commission of another felony.” This is usually a third-degree felony charge, which may get you up to five years in prison, five years’ probation, and up to $5,000 in fines. If a firearm is used, you could get a three-year mandatory sentence.
There is no question that if you commit an assault while committing another felony, then the assault will be elevated to aggravated assault.
If you commit an assault while possessing a knife or a gun, then you provided an imminent threat of harm to the other party, thus leading to the aggravated assault charge. In some cases, even if you are carrying a deadly weapon, this may not necessarily lead to an aggravated assault charge. Many Floridians have concealed carry permits and the other party may not be aware of the presence of your weapon. In this case, you may not be bumped up to an aggravated assault charge.
Please keep in mind that we have only scratched the surface here. Assault and its associated charges can all be severe and could have life-changing consequences attached to them. By retaining a Tampa criminal defense attorney, experienced in assault charges, you are assured of a proper defense.
What Proof or Evidence Is Required to Charge Me With an Assault Charge?
It is critical that you are aware that even if there is no physical evidence and corroborating witnesses, the testimony of the other party can result in you being charged with assault. For you to be arrested, there still must be probable cause that you committed the assault. Unfortunately, the evidence will usually come right from the mouth of your alleged victim.
For you to be found guilty the judge and jury must believe the evidence (verbal or physical) proves your guilt. Testimony is evidence, and it can be enough, even if there is no physical evidence and no corroborating witnesses.
So, proof in an assault case might be considered vague at best in many of the cases the courts hear. Unless, of course, there are bruises, witnesses, or other corroborating evidence, then the outcome could be worse. Obtaining the professional advice of a Tampa criminal defense attorney is the preeminent way to protect you, your family, and your future.