What are the Penalties for Assault Charges in Florida?
Assault is a serious crime in Florida, so it is not surprising to learn that law enforcement is aggressive in pursuing offenders. According to statistics reported by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), police make around 98,900 arrests for simple and aggravated assault every year. If the prosecutor can prove that a defendant used threats or intimidation to make a victim fear imminent harm, these individuals could face serious penalties. While battery is a similar crime that involves physical contact, assault does not require this proof.
Still, the penalties for simple and aggravated assault are severe if you are convicted. You could be charged with a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances, leading to jail time and fines. However, an arrest is not the same as a conviction. There are strategies to fight the charges, and a Florida criminal defense lawyer will pursue all opportunities. Some additional details about punishment for an assault conviction are helpful.
Penalties for Assault Crimes: The baseline for understanding sentencing for assault is the degree of the crime. Therefore:
- Simple assault, threats of violence by word or act, is a Second Degree Misdemeanor punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. It is elevated to a First Degree Misdemeanor when the threats are made during a riot. A judge could sentence up to 1 year incarceration and a maximum fine of $1,000.
- Someone could be convicted for aggravated assault for committing an assault crime using a deadly weapon or with the intent to commit a felony. The offense is a Third Degree Felony, so a court may sentence up to 5 years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.
Defense Options: Because assault only occurs under very specific conditions, a solid defense strategy if exposing weaknesses in the government’s case. For instance, the prosecutor must prove that the victim had a well-founded fear that the offender would commit the violence. The jury might not find that this fear was reasonable because it was exaggerated.
Also, the prosecution needs evidence showing that you had the ability to make good on the threat. If there were circumstances that prevent you from completing the crime, there is no assault. An example is threatening to push someone down the stairs when you are in another room.
In addition, you could take advantage of options to resolve the charges by agreement. With plea bargaining, you agree to admit guilt in exchange for lenient treatment. You could get the charges reduced, lower your punishment, or both. Negotiating a felony down to a misdemeanor is especially advantageous for your criminal record.
Trust a South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney to Help with Your Case
The penalties for an assault conviction are more serious than you expect, so retaining experienced counsel is critical if you are facing charges. Our team at Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. is skilled in developing defense strategies, so please contact us to schedule a consultation. Individuals in Palm Beach County can call 561-626-8880 or visit our website to speak to a lawyer.