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Assault can often result from an argument that got out of hand or from the loss of one’s temper. In the heat of the moment, it is very easy to say or do things that are out of character, even if there was no intent to cause harm. What might result is an assault charge, and in the state of Florida, assault is a simple misdemeanor, which can have serious repercussions if you are convicted.

Assault Defense Lawyer in Alachua County, FL 

If you have been charged with a violent crime, an experienced criminal defense attorney can be your best option to avoid the harshest penalties and fines. Dedicated representation is especially important for students, who may face college disciplinary proceedings, regardless if the alleged offense occurred on campus or not. The Galigani Law Firm represents individuals who have been charged with an assault offense throughout Florida, including Lake City and Ocala. Contact the Galigani Law Firm today at (352) 375-0812 for a free consultation.

Information Center:

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What is Assault in Florida?

The definition of assault can be found under Section 784.011 of the Florida Statutes. The law states assault can only occur if an individual intentionally threatens to violently harm another person by word or actions. To be convicted of assault, the prosecution must prove you had the ability to carry out the threat, which created a established fear in the other person that they could be attacked in some way. 

Since the statue for assault isn’t very specific and, in some ways, vague, often harmless acts can be charged as assault. For example, the statute states a person can be guilty of assault if they threaten someone with violence. Although threatening another person is never the right decision, sometimes in the heat of the moment people may say things they would never mean. That includes harming another person either physically or emotionally. 

Many people have been accused of assault for threats they never intended to carry out. Often these people with assault allegations have never faced criminal charges and simply got caught up in their emotions. Unfortunately, the Florida Statutes state that all a person needs to be guilty of assault is to threaten another person with violence and then have the means to carry out that threat. If you have done both actions, you can still be charged with assault even if you never in a million years planned to hurt anyone.

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How Much Jail Time for Assault in Florida?

Since assault is a violent crime, the state of Florida imposes harsh penalties for those convicted. Assault is a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, with a probation of up to 6 months, and a potential $500 fine. The penalties for assault, however, can be enhanced even further if certain factors were present during the commission of the crime.

Committing assault against any of the following types of public servants in Florida will result in elevated penalties. These types of public servants include: 

  • Firefighters;
  • Law enforcement officers; or
  • Emergency Medical Providers

If the victim was attacked while performing their duties, then the assault charge will be reclassified to a first-degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for a first-degree misdemeanor is up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

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Florida’s Increased Offense Classification for Certain Persons Assaulted

Under Fla. Stat. §§ 784.07, 784.08 and 784.081 - .083, an individual who knowingly assaults certain persons can receive increased assault charges from a misdemeanor of the second degree to a misdemeanor of the first degree. These individuals can include, but are not limited to:

  • Law enforcement officers,
  • Firefighters,
  • Parole officers,
  • Probation officers,
  • Paramedics,
  • Public transit employees,
  • School officials,
  • Sports officials,
  • Elected officials,
  • Code inspector or
  • Persons 65 or older.

A misdemeanor of the first degree is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000 under Fla. Stat. §§ 775.082 - .083. Alternatively, the individual could receive probation for the first assault offense.

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What is the Difference Between an Assault and a Battery? 

The state of Florida lists assault and battery as two separate offenses. Assault does not have to include physical touching. The more serious offense of battery usually involves physical touching and the intentional bodily harm of another person.

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Can Verbal Threats be Considered an Assault in Florida?

The short answer is yes. In Florida, the term assault is reserved for violent threats whereas the term battery is used for physical attacks against another person. The Florida Statute for assault states that a person is guilty of the crime if they give an “intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing so creates a well-founded fear in such person that the violence is imminent.” 

For example, imagine you just engaged in an argument with another person. During the argument you get incredibly heated, ball up your first, and impulsively say you’re going to punch the other person in the face. In this instance, you could be charged with assault if someone files a complaint. However, if you threatened to punch someone in the face and the other person was behind a bullet proof, locked door, then you wouldn’t be charged. The threat can’t only be violent for you to be charged with assault, but you must also have the capability of carrying out said threat. If you don’t have that ability and the victim wasn’t in fear of your threats, then you cannot be charged with assault.

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Terms of Florida Probation

A conviction of assault does not necessarily mean an individual will go to jail. The court may instead sentence a person to probation. When sentenced to probation there are specific guidelines of supervision that must be followed, which can be found in Chapter 948 of the Florida Statutes. A violation of probation can result in an individual having their probation revoked and being sent to jail. While on probation an individual typically must:

  • Report to probation supervisor as directed,
  • Allow the probation supervisor to visit his or her home or place of employment,
  • Maintain suitable employment,
  • Avoid any legal trouble,
  • Pay for the costs of supervision,
  • Not associate with known criminals, and
  • Follow any special provisions ordered by the court.

Often an individual sentenced to probation is required to complete some form of community service. Early termination of probation can be considered if an individual performs satisfactorily and has not violated any terms of supervision.

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Additional Resources 

Assault Statistics in Florida | FDLE – Visit the official website for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to learn more about their Uniform Crime Reports program. Access the site to read up on assault laws, learn how many arrests occurred for simple assault in Florida this year, the breakdown of arrest by age and sex, how many were arrested by county, and historical trends the UCR has discovered about assault over time.

Florida Assault and Battery Laws – Visit the official website for the Florida Senate to read up on the statutes for assault and battery. Access the site to learn the elements for assault, the differences between assault and battery, and the penalties for each crime.

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Gainesville Assault Attorney in Florida | Galigani Law Firm

Contact the Galigani Law Firm to discuss the circumstances regarding your alleged assault offense. Criminal defense lawyer Dean Galigani will use his experience defending individuals against assault charges in Florida courts to help you achieve the best possible outcome regarding your particular circumstance. Contact the Galigani Law Firm today at (352) 375-0812 or send an online message for a free consultation about your alleged assault offense in Florida and throughout Alachua County, Marion County, Gilchrist County and Baker County.

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