Assault Attorneys Palm Beach and Broward County
If you’ve been involved in an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act and need legal counsel, Call Palm Beach, FL Attorneys Bottari & Doyle at 561-588-2781. Assault is a second degree misdemeanor.
Definition to Assault
The State must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a defendant of Assault.
- The Defendant intentionally and unlawfully threatened, either by word or act, to do violence to the victim.
- At the time, the Defendant appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat.
- The act of the Defendant created in the mind of the victim a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place.
If the jury determines that the State has not proven all three elements of Assault beyond a reasonable doubt, the Defendant is not guilty.
Penalties for Assault
Pursuant to Florida Statute 784.011, assault is a second degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for a second degree misdemeanor is 60 days incarceration in the county jail. However, a Defendant may also receive probation for up to 6 months, or some combination of incarceration and probation. A Defendant may also be required to attend an anger management program, have no contact with the victim and pay up to $500 in fines.
Did the Defendant intend to commit the violent act?
Intent is a question for the jury based on the factual circumstances of the case. For example, if a Defendant was just “joking around”, not intending to commit a violent act towards another, and the jury believed that to be true, the Defendant is not guilty of assault.
Did the Defendant appear to have the ability to carry out the threat?
What if a Defendant said to an alleged victim, “I’m going to hit you with this bat!” However, the Defendant did not have a bat in his possession, and a bat was not in the Defendant’s vicinity. Neither the alleged victim, nor any witnesses could say that the Defendant appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat of hitting the alleged victim with the bat, because the Defendant could not readily obtain a bat.
Did the Defendant’s act create in the mind of the victim a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place?
The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant’s act created in the mind of the victim a “well-founded” fear AND that the Defendant’s violent act was imminent. What if a Defendant was running towards the alleged victim with a bat, while the victim’s back was facing the Defendant? The victim could not see the Defendant, and thus could not have a well-founded fear of violence. In this situation, the Defendant did not commit an Assault. Additionally, the State must prove that the victim’s fear was objectively reasonable. For example, if a Defendant says to an alleged victim, “I’m going to throw this balloon at you”, it would be impossible to believe that the victim had a well-founded fear of violence because balloons can’t hurt anyone. Furthermore, the victim must believe that violence was imminent. The victim must believe that violence is about to happen. If a Defendant says to a victim, “I’m going to punch you in two weeks”, the Defendant has not committed an assault because the Defendant is threatening to commit violence in two weeks. The threat is not imminent.
Defenses to Assault
Threat to commit the violent act in the future: Aggravated Assault requires the victim to experience an imminent fear.
Victim’s fear of violence unreasonable: Aggravated Assault requires the victim’s fear of violence to be reasonable. An unreasonable fear does not give rise to an aggravated assault.
If you have been arrested or charged with Assault in Palm Beach County, Broward County, Martin County or Dade County contact a
Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer from Bottari & Doyle at (561)-588-2781.