Assault Explained

Florida Statute 784.011 – Assault

An “assault” is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent. (2) Whoever commits an assault shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

In order to prove assault, the State must show that (a) you intended to place someone in fear of imminent contact, whether harmful or unwanted; (b) that fear must be imminent, as in right away. Threats for the future or in the next few minutes don’t fall under this statute.; (c) that the person actually felt the apprehension of that imminent and unwanted/harmful contact.

Assault Vs. Battery

Often confuse Battery with Assault in that they believe there needs to actually be physical contact to prove Assault. However, that is not true. Assault is the crime relating to people feeling like they are about to be harmed or touched inappropriately.

For example, someone swings a punch at another person and misses. If the person saw the punch coming and dodged the punch the puncher would be charged with Assault. If the puncher actually hit the guy with the punch, he would be charged with Battery. Sometimes in the latter example he’d actually be charged with both.

Penalties

Depending on the type of assault that led to the convictions, the penalties may vary. Assault ranges from Misdemeanor to Felony depending on what was used to carry out the assault. For example, you attempt to punch someone and miss, that’s a misdemeanor. You point a gun at someone and tell them you are going to shoot them, that’s a felony.

Types of assaults and their penalties

  • Simple – This occurs when the assault was committed without a weapon. The injuries were minor, and no serious harm was caused to the victim.
    • Penalty: Misdemeanor and will result in fines and/or up to one year in jail.
  • Physical – This type of assault is defined as harm caused to another that leaves harmful injuries but not life-threatening injuries. The injuries can be bruising, swollen lips, black eye, cuts, etc.
    • Penalty: Misdemeanor and will result in fines and/or up to one year in jail.
  • Sexual – Involves the act of forcefully committing a sexual act without the other party’s consent. This can be rape, molestation, or similar sexual offenses.
    • Penalty: Felony and a maximum sentence of 20 years. Depending on the state, sexual assault and rape can have different definitions. Rape can lead to a life sentence.
  • Aggravated – When a weapon is involved, or extreme force was used to commit the assault. In some states, the type of weapon used will determine how long the sentence will be. Examples could be an assault weapon, semi-automatic, chemicals, or a machine gun.
    • Penalty: Felony and an average maximum sentence of 20 years.
  • Verbal– Not all assault has to be physical. Verbal assault is the act of orally communicating with someone in order to cause emotional, mental, or psychological injury to someone.
    • Penalty: Misdemeanor and will result in fines and/or anywhere between 6 months to a year in jail.
  • Felonious – A threat to attack or attempt to attack another individual. This can be accomplished through violence or excessive force in order to harm another person. The attack could involve serious bodily harm or be committed with a weapon. If a weapon is used, then it will be a felony offense even if there were no injuries. If injuries were created without a weapon but with hands, fists, or feet, then it will be a felony offense.
    • Penalty: Fines and/or a sentence of 1 to 25 years