Assault Defense Attorney in Tampa, FL
Criminal assault and battery is an area of Florida law that covers acts and threats of violence against other people. Assault laws cover intentional threats, while battery laws cover actual violent acts. There are a wide variety of types of assault and battery, from simple assault to aggravated battery. The simplest of these is simple assault.
If you or a loved one are facing assault charges in the Tampa, FL, area, call Armando Edmiston, an experienced Tampa assault criminal defense lawyer, today.
Simple Assault: A Definition in Tampa, FL
Simple assault is one of the most commonly charged criminal offenses in Florida. Assault is an intentional, unlawful threat to commit violence against another person, together with an apparent ability to carry out the threat and an act that creates a well-founded fear in the other person. Any kind of threat can qualify, whether by word or action, as long as the threat is imminent. Threatening to punch someone in the face, then cocking a fist as if to strike (but not striking) is a classic example of simple assault. Were the punch to land, the separate crime of battery would also apply.
Simple Assault: Penalties in Tampa
Simple assault is a relatively minor crime in Florida, unlike aggravated assault and the various forms of battery. It is a second-degree misdemeanor, subject to penalties including as many as 60 days in jail. Simple assault does not carry mandatory minimum incarceration, so probation and a fine is likely in many cases, especially for first-time offenders. Stiffer penalties apply to assault convictions where the threat violates a domestic violence protection order: In that case, assault is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by as much as a year in jail. Enhanced penalties also apply for assaults on on-duty police officers, emergency medical providers, firefighters, public transit employees, and staff at detention facilities for violent sexual predators, among other public employees. These assaults are similarly first-degree misdemeanors subject to a maximum penalty of one year, as are assaults on persons 65 years old or older; assaults on school, sports, child welfare and health officials; assaults by prison or jail inmates on visitors or fellow inmates; and assaults on code inspectors. Simple assault is also a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year where it is committed on the grounds of a religious institution while the victim is on the property to participate in religious services.
Simple Assault: Defenses in Tampa, FL
There are a number of possible defenses to assault charges under Florida law. A defendant may be able to argue he had no apparent ability to carry out the threat. As an example, a 115-pound man with no special physical training who threatens to punch a 300-pound football player can hardly be said to have had an apparent ability to cause the player harm. Alternatively, a defendant’s attorney may argue the defendant never carried out an act that would create a well-founded fear in the other person. The defendant never cocked his fist, in other words. A similar line of defense might attack the reasonableness of the other person’s fear. And it is possible to argue a defendant’s “threat” was made in jest and was therefore not intentional. Prosecutors must prove every element of the crime of assault beyond a reasonable doubt, and if any of these elements can be deflected, criminal charges will not succeed.