If a person claims a charge of simple assault to law enforcement it's usually difficult for police to make an arrest or prove the claim in court if it gets that far when a case is heard before a judge.
In a situation when only the complainant and the respondent were present, a judge would have a difficult time ruling for or against either party unless there was compelling evidence such as an audio or video file of the event, or a reliable third party witness at the scene or nearby that would be willing to testify one way or another about the circumstances of the incident.
In the State of Florida as is the case in many other states, the crime of assault is defined as a crime which occurs when one person deliberately threatens to commit an act of violence against another; either verbally or by direct action. To be substantiated it also must be demonstrated that the person that the assault was committed upon was in genuine imminent fear of the individual threatening them, as well as the fact that the person who allegedly committed the assault had the ability to accomplish their attempt.
Although the above paragraphs may make the crime of simple assault sound like something that can be shrugged off, simple assault is a second degree misdemeanor and if a person is convicted of the crime the penalties can be up to sixty days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or in a best case scenario; an up to a six month probationary sentence.
Additionally, a conviction for assault of a firefighter or an emergency medical care provider such as an EMT or paramedic as well as a police officer would heighten the category to a first degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to a year in jail, a $1000 fine or up to twelve months of probation as a most favorable outcome.
A claim of aggravated assault is a more serious allegation. Aggravated assault is a third degree felony with penalties of up to five years in prison as well as fines up to $5000 except in the case where a firearm was used as will be explained below. A conviction's best possible result would be up to five years of probation.
A charge of aggravated assault initially follows the same criteria as simple assault but the person committing the assault would do so using a weapon that would likely cause great bodily harm or death to its victim. The second divergent aspect would be if the assault occurred during the commission of a felony.
If the deadly weapon was a firearm, a conviction of the offense would subject the offender to a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison and would escalate to a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen to twenty years of incarceration if the firearm was discharged; the minimum term of incarceration would be predicated by the type of gun that was used. This mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison would also stand if the crime targeted any of the above mentioned emergency service workers by comparison, equally elevating simple assault to a first degree misdemeanor.
Examples of Aggravated Assault
Many allegations of aggravated assault are initiated by friends or family members.
Perhaps during the course of a heated argument, two friends lose their cool and one of them throws a heavy glass ashtray or other weighty object at the other while shouting "I'm going to kill you". Although the object misses its target and causes no damage to the person it was thrown at, an ambitious prosecutor looking to further their career may press forward with the case attempting to prove guilt of an assault by the aggressor. In a case such as this, a cooling off period will usually offer the complainant time to change their mind and subsequently drop the charges; no harm, no foul.
But sometimes their anger doesn't fade and the case moves forward leaving an opportunity for an unfavorable outcome possible. If a situation such as this develops it is crucial to retain a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to diminish the possible damage and keep the matter from getting out of hand.
Contrary to common belief, a charge of any type of assault does not involve any physical contact. But if you, a relative or close friend is charged with assault in Dade, Broward or Palm Beach County it's important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney acting on your behalf to prevent what may seem like a minor concern from becoming a complicated burden which can affect your liberty or cause monetary damage.
In the event the prosecution decides to advance a case for assault, my law office has the ability and know-how to fight any allegations of these charges. My previous association with the prosecution as a former Assistant State Attorney for Broward County gives me a strong advantage by knowing how cases like this will be tried in a courtroom setting, giving me the greatest potential to fight these charges while assuring protection of your rights concluding with the best promising outcome. In any case where jail time is a possibility, don't get caught up in the system.
To read what you should do next if a charge of assault has been alleged and get a better understanding of my qualifications, click here.