Assault Lawyers in Jacksonville, Florida Representing Clients Charged with Assault Crimes
Assault is a category of violent crime and is perhaps one of the most common criminal offenses in the state of Florida. Nevertheless, being accused and convicted of an assault still means severe consequences and a criminal record. Learn how assault crimes are prosecuted in Florida and see why working with an assault attorney is the right move if you are facing charges.
What Is Assault in Florida?
Assault in Florida is defined as threatening to harm another person physically or verbally with the capability of fulfilling that threat. Under Florida laws, an assault is typically considered a second-degree misdemeanor and may result in up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Examples of assault in Florida include verbally threatening to punch someone, miming to hit, strike, or kick another person, or threatening to use an object to hurt another person. In some cases, if a weapon is used, the charges for assault may be increased to an aggravated assault charge which is considered a violent felony and can result in much more serious consequences for the offender.
What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?
Assault and battery are two different criminal offenses. It is possible for someone to be charged with either one or both, depending on whether actual physical contact was involved or not. Assault is an attempt to cause physical harm to another person, while battery is the actual physical contact that results in harm.
Assault can be verbal or physical, while battery is always physical. Assault does not require physical contact, while battery does. In other words, assault can be viewed as a crime of intent, and battery is considered a crime of action.
For example, suppose two people start an argument during a soccer game. One person stands up abruptly and raises their fist while yelling at the other person to repeat what they just said. The person raising their fist and yelling may have committed assault, as they are threatening physical violence against the other party, even though they did not actually punch the other person. If they actually hit the other person, they will have committed battery and could be charged with both crimes.
Is Assault a Felony or a Misdemeanor in Florida?
In Florida, assault and battery offenses are generally classified as misdemeanors. Simple assault is usually considered a 2nd-degree misdemeanor, which could result in a maximum sentence of 60 days of jail and a fine of up to $500. Simple battery is usually a first-degree misdemeanor, which is a more serious type of misdemeanor that could result in a maximum sentence of 1 year of jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, if the defendant has a prior conviction for a battery-related offense, the penalties for a subsequent battery crime may increase to a third-degree felony.
On the other hand, aggravated assault is considered a third-degree felony, and an aggravated battery charge is a second-degree felony. Things get more complicated if the aggravated battery offense was against a police officer or a victim over 65 years of age or involved the use of a deadly weapon – a defendant may be facing first-degree felony charges along with prison time and higher fines.
What Can an Assault Lawyer Do to Help Me if I Am Facing Charges?
If you have been arrested for an assault charge in Florida, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Even if you are not being charged with a felony, a misdemeanor is still a serious charge that often comes with lifelong consequences, as it will appear on background checks and can limit your ability to secure employment, housing, loans, and education opportunities.
It is best to work with a criminal defense lawyer who can help you convince the court to reduce or dismiss your charges. Your lawyer can help you understand your charges and come up with defense strategies such as claiming self-defense or questioning the prosecution’s evidence. If you are facing assault charges in Jacksonville, Florida, reach out to the assault attorneys at the Weldon Law Group, PLLC, as soon as possible by calling 904-204-3420 to discuss your case.