What is Aggravated Assault?

Imagine this scenario: you are at a party and someone is making you angry. You don’t get into a physical altercation with them, but you do break a beer bottle and threaten to cut them with it. Did you just commit a crime, or are you protected under your first amendment right to free speech in that instance? You might be surprised to learn that you could be arrested and charged with an aggravated assault in that scenario. 

In this brief article, a criminal defense attorney in St. Petersburg with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan shares what you need to know about aggravated assault and how to defend yourself if you have been charged.

Definition of Aggravated Assault

To get started, let’s consider the legal definition of aggravated assault. Florida Statute Chapter 784 defines aggravated assault as an assault:

(a) With a deadly weapon without intent to kill; or

(b) With an intent to commit a felony.

The crucial element in aggravated assault is intent. Regardless of whether anyone was actually hurt or not, a credible threat of violence is actually considered sufficient evidence within the law. What does that mean in a practical way? Even if you didn’t actually make contact with the victim, if the victim felt that you could or would have acted on the threat, you can be charged with aggravated assault.

Another important element of aggravated assault is the definition of a deadly weapon. When you think of a deadly weapon, your mind likely jumps to a gun or a knife. However, a deadly weapon can be as simple as a piece of broken glass or as large as a car. So if you try to hit someone with your car, that is an aggravated assault. 

Although TV and the movies like to use the terms “assault” and “battery” interchangeably, under Florida law there is a real legal distinction between the two. An assault is an act that places a victim in fear of an imminent touching or striking. A battery is the actual touching or striking of another person against their will. Thus, assault charges are reserved for those scenarios where no actual contact occurred, but a victim was allegedly placed in fear of that happening nonetheless.

What are the Penalties for Aggravated Assault?

In Florida, aggravated assault is a third degree felony that can result in penalties including up to 5 years in prison. Depending on additional charges, the penalty may be even more harsh. For example, if the assault took place against an elderly person, or a firearm was discharged, you may be facing even more serious charges. 

Defenses for Aggravated Assault 

If you’ve been arrested for an aggravated assault, you will need an experienced defense attorney in St. Petersburg. You need someone who is able to help you navigate the complexities of an aggravated assault case. Don’t play “he said, she said” and risk your freedom. Call Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.

Request a FREE consultation today by giving us a call at (727) 578-0303, or submitting our consultation request form.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.