After you're arrested for assault, you might assume that you're only facing a misdemeanor charge because you were unarmed at the time of the incident. Unfortunately, many people have been charged and convicted of felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon despite not carrying a gun.
Guns Aren't the Only Deadly Weapons Involved in Aggravated Assault Cases in Florida
Under Florida law, a "deadly weapon" is any object used or threatened to be used in a way that is likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Carrying a firearm or explosive device can lead to deadly weapons charges, but so can:
- Brandishing a pocket knife
- Holding a hammer or crowbar while yelling at someone inside a car
- Holding a beer bottle while threatening another person
- Driving a car directly toward a pedestrian
- Telling someone to "back off" while swinging a baseball bat
- Holding a poisonous substance in your hand while arguing with someone
- Pulling back a leg to kick someone while wearing steel-toed boots
Actions Involved in Aggravated Assault With a Deadly Weapon in Florida
Aggravated assault is a charge reserved for people who threaten someone with a weapon but do not have the intent to kill another person. If you assaulted someone with a deadly weapon with a demonstrated intent to kill, you could face the more serious charge of attempted murder.
The "aggravated" condition involves an additional act that intensifies the assault, such as a weapon or the intent to commit a crime. To convict you of aggravated assault, the prosecution must prove that:
- You intentionally threatened to do violence to another person through your words or actions (whether you intended to carry out violence against the other person is irrelevant).
- You appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat at the time the threat was made.
- Your words or actions were sufficient for the victim to have a well-founded fear that violence was about to take place.
- The assault was made either with a deadly weapon or conscious intent to commit a felony.
Potential Penalties for Aggravated Assault
You do not have to touch another person to be charged with or convicted of aggravated assault with a deaddly weapon in Florida. As long as your actions cause the fear of immediate harm or death in the alleged victim, you can be criminally prosecuted for assault. In Florida, aggravated assault is a third-degree felony that carries a range of penalties:
- First offense. Florida prosecutes assault cases aggressively, and defendants face a genuine possibility of prison even for a first offense. If convicted of first-time assault with a deadly weapon, you could be ordered to serve up to five years in prison or five years on probation, as well as a fine of up to $5,000.
- Second offense. A second conviction for aggravated assault within five years of completing your first sentence could result in a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and up to ten years in prison.
- Mandatory minimums. Courts may impose mandatory minimum sentences in some instances that can only be waived in limited circumstances. For example, you may not have to serve the minimum term if you had a mistaken belief that the action was justifiable, you do not pose a threat to public safety, or the totality of the circumstances does not justify the imposition of a mandatory jail term.
- Criminal record. If convicted, you will have a criminal record that can be used to deny you housing, employment, educational opportunities, and any other experience that requires a criminal background check.
Contact Our Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorney for a Free Consult
Our experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney has seen several successful defenses used to refute assault charges. For example, you may have acted in self-defense or performed an unintentional act that the other party misinterpreted. The specific defense used in your case will depend on the circumstances of the incident.
If you have been arrested and are facing charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Florida, our board-certified Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Robert David Malove can fight to get the charges against you reduced or dropped. Contact us online or call us today at (954) 861-0384 to begin your free consultation. For your convenience, payment plans are available.