What Makes an "Assault" Crime "Aggravated"?

There is a lot of misinformation surrounding the crime of assault and many people may not know what constitutes the offense. Did you know, for example, that a person can be charged with assault even if no physical contact occurred? The truth is that the exact definition of “assault” varies from state to state and if your understanding of the crime comes mainly from Hollywood movies, it may be time to brush up on your knowledge. Below, to help clear up some of the confusion surrounding these offenses, we have outlined the crimes of simple and aggravated assault.

What Is Assault in Florida?

In an altercation between two or more people, the crime of “assault” refers to a (1) physical or verbal threat that can be reasonably carried out which (2) causes a person to fear for their immediate safety. By definition, the offense does not include physical contact. This means that if one person throws a punch aimed at another but missed, the aggressor may face assault charges. For clarification, if physical contact does occur, the crime can be charged as “battery”. An assault becomes “aggravated” when during the course of an offense, an aggressor makes use of a deadly weapon or intends to commit a felony.

Possible penalties for assault can include:

  • Simple assault charged as a second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and $500 in fines.
  • Simple assault against an individual such as a police officer or firefighter can be a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of no more than $1000.
  • Aggravated assault can be charged as a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and fine of no more than $5000.

What Is a Deadly Weapon?

Another area of assault charges that is often confusing is what constitutes a deadly or dangerous weapon. Certain objects can be considered inherently dangerous, such as firearms, and easily fit into this category. However, an object may also be considered a deadly weapon based on how it was used in the course of an offense. Under Florida law, any item which is capable of inflicting great bodily harm and is used in a way which causes a person to fear for their immediate safety may be classified as a deadly weapon. In this way, a heavy or steel toe boot that was swung at someone’s head may lead to charges of aggravated assault.

Facing Assault Charges? Call Us Today

Whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony, a conviction for a violent crime such as assault can permanently affect a person’s livelihood. If you have been accused of a crime, do not waste any time in contacting the Law Offices of Jason K.S. Porter, P.A. Our attorneys possess more than 90 years of combined experience and can fight tirelessly to uphold your rights.

Call (904) 701-0591 or contact our attorneys online to request an initial case evaluation.