People are sometimes surprised to learn that they could be arrested and charged with assault, even if no physical contact occurred. Making a threat, coupled with the ability to carry out the threat, is all that is required to commit assault.
Florida law treats assault as a violent offense, even in the absence of physical contact, and anyone facing assault charges risks being labeled a violent offender if they are convicted. That risk makes it critically important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. A Belle Isle assault lawyer has the knowledge and background to mount an effective defense against these charges.
If the incident that led to an assault charge was not physical and no one got hurt, the prosecutor would likely charge a misdemeanor offense. But this does not mean the defendant is getting off easy.
The penalties upon conviction of misdemeanor assault include up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for a first offense. Penalties could be harsher if the individual has prior convictions or if the alleged victim was a vulnerable person or public servant.
Even when it is a misdemeanor, the law considers an assault an aggressive act and a violent crime, for which there could be multiple collateral consequences. They may be ineligible for certain jobs, professional licenses, and housing opportunities. If the individual has trouble with the law in the future, a prosecutor or judge would be less likely to show leniency if the accused has a record as a violent offender.
Criminal laws describe certain elements a prosecutor must prove to achieve a conviction for the crime. The prosecutor must have convincing proof of each element, or they cannot make their case.
Florida Statute § 784.011 describes an assault as an illegal threat from someone with the apparent ability to carry out the threat, accompanied by some action that creates fear that the assailant means to do them immediate harm. A prosecutor must prove multiple elements—the threat, the ability to complete the threat, the action, the alleged victim’s reasonable fear, and the possibility of immediate harm—to obtain a conviction for assault.
The prosecutor’s evidence for one or more of the elements is often weak. An assault attorney in Belle Isle could exploit any weaknesses in the prosecutor’s evidence to convince them to drop the charges or negotiate for a reduced charge.
Some defenses apply to all crimes, such as failing to prove the required elements or civil rights violations that force the exclusion of illegally obtained evidence. Other defenses are especially helpful for certain crimes.
Florida law allows people to use threatening language and physical force to protect themselves, other people, or their property. When an accused raises these defenses, they have the burden of proving they used the threat of force to protect themselves, someone else, or their property.
A Belle Isle assault defense attorney could present evidence that the defendant felt their wellbeing or someone else’s safety was at risk. Evidence that the accused’s property was under threat could also be a defense to assault charges.
You should not leave anything to chance when you are made to answer for an alleged assault. Achieving the most favorable result requires experienced legal counsel. Call a Belle Isle assault lawyer as soon as you can, even before you are formally charged. Let us put their skills and experience to work for you.
The Umansky Law Firm Criminal Defense & Injury Attorneys