Former State Prosecutor
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Assault is one of the most commonly charged criminal offenses in Florida. This type of offense can occur if anyone threatens to touch another person in a way that is harmful or offensive to that person. It is considered a violent crime and a conviction could have a serious impact on a person's reputation.
Assault charges can be misdemeanors or felonies, which could mean jail time, fines and other harsh penalties. In addition, the offense can linger on a person's criminal history, which would affect a person's professional and social life. Violent crimes carry a social stigma that can be hard to overcome. The best way to avoid the hardship is to avoid a conviction.
If you have been arrested for assault or aggravated assault in the Tampa Bay Area, contact a St. Petersburg assault defense lawyer at Morris Law Firm, P.A.. Melinda Morris and her skilled team have the experience needed to help you avoid a violent crime conviction and move on with your life.
Morris, a former Assistant State Attorney with the Sixth Judicial Circuit in Clearwater, has extensive knowledge of the Florida criminal justice system. This enables her to identify weaknesses in the State Attorney’s case and work to have charged reduced or even dropped.
She is passionate about her clients and will work to get favorable results in their cases. Morris Law Firm, P.A. represents clients in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Pinellas County, Tampa, Hillsborough County and other surrounding counties. Contact Morris Law Firm, P.A. at (727) 388-4736 for a free consultation.
Assault can involve almost any type of threat, through either actions or use of words, including verbal abuse, swearing at another person or any other type of threatening words. Utilizing movements or weapons to further enhance the threatening words also could lead to assault charges.
As defined in Florida Statute § 784.011, a person can be charged with assault in Florida if he or she satisfies each of the following elements:
Additionally, the alleged offender must be able to or appear to be able to cause harm to the other person. This offense is generally punishable as a misdemeanor crime and is also commonly known as simple assault or misdemeanor assault.
Assault can be upgraded to aggravated assault, however, if the alleged offender commits assault and uses a deadly weapon without having the intent to kill the other person. It also could be considered aggravated assault if the offender had the intent to commit a felony.
A felony offense for the purpose of aggravated assault can include a number of crimes, such as murder, homicide, violent crimes, domestic violence, aggravated stalking, aggravated battery, domestic battery by strangulation and aggravated domestic battery or assault.
Florida Statutes provides for enhanced assault charges if the act is committed against certain people. Therefore, if the assault offense was an aggravated assault, but committed against a law enforcement officer, the assault offense would be increased to a felony of the second degree instead of a felony of the third degree.
An alleged offender will be charged with the next highest degree of assault if he or she commits an assault offense against any of the following people:
If the assault is committed against a law enforcement officer or a person over age 65, the alleged offender must serve a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for three years. If the offense is committed against a person over age 65, the alleged offender also is required to complete up to 500 hours of community service and make restitution to the alleged victim of the offense.
Assault offenses in Florida can result in serious penalties and punishments. The penalties can increase depending on whether a weapon was present or used during the commission of the offense, the status of the alleged victim, the degree of assault and whether the alleged offender has a criminal history.
A conviction for a simple assault offense can result in misdemeanor of the second degree, which is punishable by a jail sentence up to 60 days, a fine up to $500 or both. A conviction for an aggravated assault or an upgraded simple assault can result in a felony of the third degree, which is punishable by a prison sentence up to five years, a fine up to $5,000 or both.
A conviction for an aggravated assault offense with an enhancement can result in a felony of the second degree, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, a fine up to $10,000 or both.
Although an assault or aggravated assault conviction in Florida can result in serious repercussions, the prosecution initially must prove the alleged offender committed every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This burden is very difficult to meet, as there can be a variety of defenses or mitigating factors that may cast doubt on the prosecutor’s case.
A few of these defenses and factors can include:
If you have been accused of committing assault or aggravated assault throughout the Tampa Bay area, it is important to hire an experienced assault defense attorney who will make every effort to craft the best defense to the charges you are facing.
If you have been arrested for assault or aggravated assault, contact a St. Petersburg assault attorney to discuss possible defenses and specific strategies that may exist in your case. Melinda Morris has worked on both sides of the law, and she knows how to build a strong defense against the charges. Call Morris Law Firm, P.A. at (727) 388-4736 to discuss your case directly with an attorney for a free consultation.
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