It is surprising to many that someone could face assault charges even if no physical contact happened. That could make a person mistakenly believe that an assault charge is not a big deal. On the contrary, assault is considered a violent crime in Florida and a conviction could severely limit your future opportunities for education, housing, credit, travel, and employment. It also could impact your immigration status.
Do not take an assault charge lightly. An experienced criminal defense attorney could help you defeat the charges or minimize their impact. Contact an Orange County assault lawyer as soon as you learn about the charge.
Most people understand an assault to be a physical attack of some kind. Although that is the way people commonly use the word, the law states that an assault can also be a threat that causes fear of imminent harm.
Florida Statutes § 784.011 defines an assault as a verbal or physical threat to harm someone if the person making the threat is in a position to carry it out. If someone who is miles away threatens over the phone to slap someone, the threat is not an assault. It might be an assault if the two people are standing next to each other when one makes the threat.
The person making the threat must take some action indicating they mean it, and the person hearing the threat must believe the other person will carry it out. If the person threatening to slap their friend raises their hand and the other person believes they will get slapped any moment, that is an assault.
Simple assault is a second-degree misdemeanor that could lead to a jail sentence of up to 60 days or a $500 fine. The penalties could be harsher if the individual has prior convictions or if the alleged victim was a public servant.
When the assault is the person’s first offense, and no physical contact occurred, a defense attorney could often arrange for a sentence that does not call for jail time. Enrollment in a diversion program is often appropriate and could result in the charges being dismissed if the accused completes the program.
Police, prosecutors, and courts look at prior convictions when handling a case. A person with a simple assault conviction on their record might face fewer choices and harsher treatment if they are arrested again. An Orange County assault attorney could raise all reasonable defenses to prevent a conviction.
A lawyer can begin preparing a defense to the charges immediately. Defense strategies are not just for juries—the best defense begins at the arrest and could avoid the need for a trial.
A prosecutor must prove several elements to achieve a conviction for assault:
If the prosecutor’s evidence on any of these points is weak, they do not have a strong assault case. Depending on the circumstances, an assault defense attorney in Orange County could question whether the accused had the intent to make or carry out a threat or had the means to do it. Similarly, they could question whether a reasonable person would have taken the threat seriously and whether an alleged victim’s fear was grounded in reality.
Individuals may threaten and even make aggressive physical contact with people who threaten them, their home, belongings, and other people. Raising this defense could convince a prosecutor or judge to dismiss assault charges.
Mistaken identity could be a defense to an assault charge, especially if the alleged victim identified their assailant through a photo array or lineup. Challenging the alleged victim’s identification could be fruitful in some circumstances.
Sometimes the alleged victim has a personal agenda and falsely claims an assault. This situation often arises in family and workplace disputes. Questioning the alleged victim’s motive and credibility could lead a prosecutor to drop an assault charge.
Assault can take many different forms. An assault charge could lead to serious consequences but a skilled defense attorney could help you avoid them. These charges can often be resolved without a permanent stain on your record. Call an Orange County assault lawyer for help as soon as police arrest you.
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