Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault: What’s the Difference?

Criminal Defense Firm in Fort Lauderdale

It is common knowledge that actions have consequences. In positive situations, putting in hard work and committing to pursuing a goal can result in dreams coming true. But when it comes to acting on impulse in heated situations or other poor decision-making, the consequences can be severe. Facing charges of assault can be a confusing and frightening experience. No matter what the situation, understanding Florida law in accordance to your charges is important to building your case with a criminal defense firm in Fort Lauderdale. 

What is Assault? 

While the word assault brings to mind images of violent acts against another person, physical contact is not strictly necessary to be legally charged with the crime. Under Florida law, assault is defined as “an intentional, unlawful threat which creates a reasonable fear that violence or harm is about to occur.”

This definition specifies the threat of violence to prevent situations which may escalate to more serious crimes like aggravated assault, manslaughter, or murder. Under this definition, law enforcement is able to intervene before harm is caused, saving lives. 

A criminal defense firm in Fort Lauderdale may use this definition to build a case for dismissal or reduction of charges depending on the specifics of the situation. 

What is Simple Assault? 

Simple assault is a second-degree misdemeanor which carries a potential for up to 60 days in jail, six months of probation, and/or up to $500 in fines. As defined under Florida law, a charge of simple assault requires a threat “by word or act, with the apparent ability to carry out the threat.” Simple assault can include: 

  • Confronting someone at their home or in a public space, with the threat of physical harm 
  • Passing threatening messages detailing the intent to do harm 
  • Striking, shoving, pulling, or pushing someone against their will 

It should be noted that words alone are not cause enough for an assault charge. In the court of law, the prosecution must present evidence of an overt act which supports the victim’s fears of imminent violence. 

What is Aggravated Assault? 

The difference between simple assault and the more serious charge of aggravated assault is typically the use of a deadly weapon or the intent to commit a felony. As a third-degree felony itself, aggravated assault carries up to five years jail time and/or probation and up to $5,000 in fines.

If the incident involved a fire arm, the sentencing may include up to a mandatory 20-year prison sentence if discharged. As defined by Florida law, a deadly weapon is anything which is likely to produce death or cause great bodily harm. 

A criminal defense firm in Fort Lauderdale may take a few different approaches when it comes to fighting assault charges. Usually, the primary defense is in challenging intent or establishing self-defense. With the Law Office of Carlos A. Canet, you gain access to decades of legal experience in all areas of criminal defense practice. From DUI to murder, Canet has successfully gone to trial for all types of cases.  

If you are facing assault charges, let us help you protect your rights. Contact us today for your free consultation.