What must the prosecutor prove in an Aggravated Assault case?
According to Florida Statute § 784.021, to prove the crime of Aggravated Assault, the prosecutor must prove the following fourthings:
- The defendant intentionally threatened, either by word or act, to do violence to the victim;
- At the time the defendant appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat;
- The act of the defendant created in the mind of the victim a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place.
- The assault was made with a deadly weapon, or the assault was made with a fully formed, conscious intent to commit a felony upon the victim.
What are the maximum penalties in an Aggravated Assault case?
In Florida, an Aggravated Assault is a third degree felony punishable by a maximum of:
- A prison sentence of 5 years
- A $5,000.00 fine
- 5 years of probation
If during the commission of the aggravated assault the defendant used a firearm, upon conviction the judge must sentence the defendant to at least three years in prison. If the defendant discharged the firearm during the commission of the aggravated assault, upon conviction the judge must sentence the defendant to at least 20 years in prison.
What does the term “deadly weapon” mean?
Under Florida Law, 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.Florida Courts have found that large sticks, knives, and beer bottles are deadly weapons. Florida Courts have found that mace sprayed into a victim’s mouth, and a cigarette lighter shaped like a gun and pointed a victim, are not deadly weapons.
Possible Defenses to an Aggravated Assault Charge:
- The Florida Stand Your Ground Law
Under the Florida Stand Your Ground Law a person is justified in threatening deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself, herself, or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
- Self Defense to an Aggravated Assault Charge
If a jury, or in the case of a bench trial, the judge, were to find that there was a reasonable doubt as to whether or not a person was justified in using an Aggravated Assault to protect himself or herself, then the jury or judge should find the person not guilty.
- Conditional Threats
In the case of Butler v. State, 632 So.2d 684 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994),a Florida court held that a conditional threat to do injury at some unspecified future time based upon a possible eventuality does not constitute an Assault.
For example, in the case of an aggravated assault imagine that Person A approached Person B in a parking lot and stated the following to Person B: “If I ever see you around here again, I’ll hit you with a baseball bat.” In this case, Person A’s threat is a conditional threat to do injury at some time in the future. Therefore, there is no Aggravated Assault.
- No Fear of Imminent Harm
In the case of H.W. v. State, 79 So.3d 143 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2012), a student threatened a school administrator that something would happen to her “that day”. The Court found that this threat was not sufficient for an Assault, because the threat of violence was not imminent.
Another example with respect to an Aggravated Assault would be if Person A approached Person B in a parking lot and stated the following to Person B: “I’ll hit you with a baseball bat tomorrow night.” There is no Aggravated Assault as the threat of violence is not imminent.
- No Ability to Carry Out the Threat
In the case of L.R. v. State, 698 So.2d 915 (Fla. 4th DCA 1997), a juvenile threatened a victim with a knife. However at the time of the threat, the juvenile and the victim were ten feet apart, and another person stood between the juvenile and the alleged victim. The Court held that there was no aggravated assault because there was insufficient evidence that the alleged victim was fearful of imminent harm from the juvenile.
Another example would be if a police officer arrested, handcuffed, and placed an arrestee in the back of a patrol vehicle. If the arrestee told the officer that he was going to hit him with a baseball bat, there would be no Aggravated Assault because the arrestee would not have the immediate ability to carry out the threat.
- The Witnesses are Lying
Witnesses and alleged victims often lie to law enforcement about the facts of a case. For example, Attorney Hardy handled an aggravated assault case in which the alleged victim claimed that Attorney Hardy’s client was the aggressor. However, Attorney Hardy conducted an investigation and discovered that a witness had called 911 during the incident. Attorney Hardy obtained a copy of the 911. On the 911 recording, the voice of the alleged victim could be heard repeatedly threatening Attorney Hardy’s client and demanding Attorney Hardy’s client come and fight him. Attorney Hardy presented this evidence to the State Attorney’s Office and they dropped the case.
Are you looking for the best Aggravated Assault lawyer in Tampa Florida? Contact Attorney David C. Hardy.
Tampa Attorney David C. Hardy is a former prosecutor that now represents persons accused of aggravated assault. He is Board Certified by the Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy as an Expert in Criminal Trial Law. As a prosecutor and defense attorney, he has extensive experience handling aggravated assault cases.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for aggravated assault in Hillsborough County Florida, Pinellas County Florida, or Pasco County Florida, Attorney David C. Hardy has the knowledge, skills, and experience to guide you through this process and obtain the best possible results.