Aggravated assault charges are extremely serious. A conviction could send you to prison for up to five years or longer, depending on the circumstances of your case. You’ll need to talk to an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer right away if you find yourself in these dire circumstances.
The Orlando criminal defense attorneys from Moses and Rooth Attorneys at Law are former prosecutors who have a unique perspective on how to defend your rights. By understanding how the prosecution might approach your case, our attorneys can plan the best defense strategy for your aggravated assault case.
Understanding How to Beat Aggravated Assault in Florida
You need to understand the elements—or the essential legal parts—of an aggravated assault charge before you can start planning a defense. We will discuss each part of the offense separately.
Florida Statutes § 784.011 defines the crime of assault as an intentional threat to commit a violent act against another person. The threat can be verbal, an act, or a combination of speech and action. The threat has to be imminent, and the victim has to reasonably believe the accused can carry out the threat. People often refer to this crime as “simple” assault.
Under Florida Statutes § 784.021, an aggravated assault is an assault with a deadly weapon but without the intent to kill. It can also be when the person commits an assault while intending to commit a felony. Deadly weapons in Florida are knives (except common pocket knives), brass knuckles, tear gas, or other objects that could be used as deadly weapons. For example, a brick by itself is not a deadly weapon but becomes a deadly weapon if you use it to hit someone in the head.
Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony and carries up to five years in state prison.
Florida law reclassifies aggravated assault from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony if the victim of the aggravated assault is either a(n):
- Law enforcement officer,
- Emergency medical care provider,
- Public transit employee,
- School employee,
- Person 65 or older, or
- Railroad special officer.
A conviction for a second-degree felony carries up to 15 years in prison. However, a conviction for an aggravated assault upon a law enforcement officer carries a three-year minimum-mandatory prison term. So the judge can give you more, but not less than the three-year minimum sentence.
Defending Against Aggravated Assault Charges
At Moses & Rooth, we comb through all of the details of your case to find the best defense. Remember, the prosecutor has the burden to prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt before a jury can convict you. You must receive an acquittal if the state fails to prove any element of the crime.
The best defense strategy for your case is unique to the facts of your case. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to these cases. In fact, using more than one defense tactic might be the best strategy for you.
One strategy is the “conditional threat defense.” A conditional threat communicates an intention to commit a violent crime at some unknown or unspecified time in the future. The crime of assault is complete only if the threat of violence is immediate. Similarly, an idle threat cannot rise to the level of assault because an assault victim must believe the person can carry out the threat.
Keep in mind that the victim of an assault has to experience a reasonable fear. Showing that the alleged assault victim was unafraid or did not believe you would carry out the threat could also be a winning defense.
We often get questions about self-defense from our clients facing aggravated assault charges. It is well-documented that Florida is a “Stand Your Ground” state. You have a right to use or threaten to use deadly force if you reasonably believe you need to use deadly force to protect yourself or another from imminent death, great bodily harm, or harm caused by a forcible felony. Florida law does not require you to retreat before using deadly force. Additionally, Florida law presumes that your fear of death or great bodily harm is reasonable if the person attacked you in your home or vehicle.
There are limitations to the Stand Your Ground Law. You must be lawfully present in the place where the incident occurred, and you cannot be engaged in a felony. If you are engaged in a felony or have no legal right to be in the place where the incident happens, the Stand Your Ground defense is not available to you.
Knowing how to negotiate a plea bargain is one of the benefits of having a former prosecutor as your defense attorney. Negotiating with the prosecutor for a favorable punishment is one of the most effective defense tactics. Negotiating a reduced sentence to simple assault from aggravated assault helps you avoid a felony conviction and reduces the amount of time you could potentially serve in jail.
Determined to Defend
Moses & Rooth is here to help when you need it most. We fight aggressively for our clients to protect their rights. Our award-winning defense lawyers offer free case reviews and are available when you need them. Contact us today at 407-531-8694 to learn more about how to beat an aggravated assault in Florida.