Assault Charges Lawyer in Sarasota, FL: Get the Legal Help You Need
In the state of Florida, assault is considered a violent crime, which means it is taken very seriously by the courts. If accused of assault and found guilty, you could face significant fines or, depending on the exact nature of the case, jail time.
Conversely, if you feel like you’ve been a victim of assault, this can have serious negative consequences on your mental health, increasing stress and anxiety and making it difficult to achieve peace of mind.
Whether you’ve been accused or feel you’ve been a victim, the most important thing you can do is hire a quality assault lawyer. They will help you figure out the best course of action. In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about assault in Florida.
What is Assault?
When most people hear the word assault, they usually think of an attack. But that is actually not assault. Instead, according to Florida statues, assault is an intentional, unlawful threat of violence against another person.
One does not need to do anything physical to the other person to be charged with assault.
Intention is important in assault. If you make a threatening statement and can convincingly prove you didn’t know it was threatening, you may be able to avoid assault charges.
In addition, for it to be considered assault, the threat must produce a “well-founded” and imminent threat in the other person. What this means is that the threat needs to be realistic.
For example, if your neighbor says they are going to invade your property if you don’t stop letting your dogs do “business” on your lawn, this is most likely not going to qualify as assault. But if they say they are going to punch you or harm your dog, then this is much more likely
Remember, for it to be considered assault, you don’t have to actually carry through with the threat. Making it is enough to result in charges.
A basic threat of violence is usually referred to as simple assault. But there is also the charge of “aggravated assault.”
Aggravated assault is essentially the same as assault but it involves the use of a firearm or other deadly weapon.
The simplest example of this is if you point a gun at someone and threaten them. Even if you don’t fire, or even if the gun wasn’t loaded, doing this can result in an aggravated assault charge, which in the state of Florida is considered a third-degree felony and is much more serious than a simple assault charge.
If the assault is perpetrated by a close family member or cohabitant of the victim, then it may be considered domestic violence. You will still be charged with assault, either simple or aggravated, but you may face additional consequences, such as an injunction and perhaps mandatory counseling.
Another form of assault you may here is sexual assault. This refers to the actual, attempted, or threatened sexual act against another person against their will. Although it includes the word assault, it is treated as a different crime and comes with its own set of consequences.
Assault and Battery: What’s the Difference?
The term assault is often used in conjunction with the term battery, so much so that many people think assault and battery are the same thing. But they are not.
Battery charges can result when you carry through with your threat and actually commit the act of violence. It is also considered a third-degree felony.
Assault and battery are often charged at the same time, which can increase your overall sentence.
Should you use a firearm or deadly weapon during the battery, it’s quite likely your charge will be increased to something else, such as attempted murder, which is an even more serious charge.
Potential Consequences for an Assault Conviction
In the state of Florida, assault is considered a violent crime and is punished accordingly.
If found guilty of simple assault, which is a second degree misdemeanor, maximum punishments include a $500 fine and up to six months in prison.
Aggravated assault charges, as well as battery charges, are considered third-degree felonies. They carry a maximum fine of $5,000 and, if found guilty, lead to jail sentences of up to five years.
It’s also possible for the victim to file a restraining order (aka an injunction) against you, which essentially bars you from contacting them in any way for a period of at least six months or up to two years.
Defenses Against Assault Charges
If you’ve been charged with assault, there are a number of defenses you can employ to try and stay away from a conviction. Some potential defenses include:
- Disproving intent — For something to be considered an assault, it must have been intentional. If what you said or did was threatening to someone but you genuinely had no idea, you may be able to avoid assault charges.
- Imminence — Assault can only happen when the threat is imminent. Saying you “might do something someday” doesn’t really qualify as assault, in most cases.
- Well-founded fear — You can only be charged with assault if your threat produces a well-founded fear in the other person. This is difficult to argue against, but it can be done by an experienced assault lawyer. Know that it doesn’t matter if you think the threat produced fear or not. If the other person, or another reasonable person, thinks it provoked fear, you can still be charged. Still, there is a lot of gray area here that can be exploited during your defense.
Ultimately, the defense you use will depend on the specific nature of your case. Work with an experienced assault lawyer to help you figure out the best way to proceed to help you stay out of trouble.
What To Do If You’ve Been the Victim of Assault?
In the unfortunate event you feel you’ve been the victim of assault, the very first thing you should do is get to safety. Even if you can’t or decide not to press charges, your well-being is most important and must be prioritized.
Then, the next thing you should do is contact law enforcement as well as a lawyer. From there, you can either file for a restraining order and/or press charges.
In either case, if you truly feel threatened, do not try and solve this problem on your own. Get some help so that you can protect your own personal safety.
Contact an Experienced Assault Lawyer Today
Whether you’ve been charged with assault or feel you’ve been a victim, it’s important you have quality legal representation during this process. The courts are complicated and it can be difficult to achieve the result you want on your own.
At Smith and Eulo Law Firm, our attorneys are experienced in dealing with all types of assault charges and are based out of the Sarasota, FL area. Get in touch today so that we can help you with your case.
* Here are some additional legal resources in the Sarasota area to help you navigate your situation.
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