Criminal Defense Attorney in Miami Protecting the Rights of the Accused
There are many different types of assault offenses that can result in criminal charges. An aggravated offense is one made worse by the circumstances of the crime. The “aggravated” designation allows prosecutors to seek a longer sentence (and other enhanced penalties, such as higher fines). Because of this, it is vital for any defendant in Miami facing aggravated charges to consult with an experienced Miami assault defense attorney. Some of the penalties that you could be facing if you are convicted of aggravated assault include:
- Community Service
- Mandatory drug and alcohol testing
- Jail time
The experienced criminal defense attorney of Stroleny Law, P.A. knows how to protect a defendant’s constitutional rights at every stage of an investigation and criminal case proceedings. He will protect Florida defendants from self-incrimination, evidence that was seized illegally, excessive fines and bail, duplicative charges, and other violations of their all-important constitutional rights. Call (305) 615-1285 today to schedule your free phone consultation.
The Difference Between Agg. Assault and Agg Battery in FL
Aggravated assault and aggravated battery are both serious felonies charged in Miami Dade County. When law enforcement deems by the evidence that an allegation is more serious than a simple misdemeanor assault or battery charge, they may charge aggravated assault or aggravated battery. Unlike simple assault and simple battery, aggravated assault and aggravated battery are both felonies in the State of Florida. They are charged when the perceived or real level of violence is greater. Where a simple assault might involve the threat of a closed-fist strike, an aggravated assault usually involves a threat with a weapon. Aggravated battery, on the other hand, may be charged when a weapon is involved or the injuries are severe.
Anyone charged with aggravated assault or aggravated battery in Miami should seek immediate counsel with a Miami criminal defense lawyer. Stroleny Law, P.A. frequently defends clients charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery. Their criminal defense attorney is familiar with the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office and knows what to expect when defending clients charged with aggravated assault or aggravated battery. The attorney at Stroleny Law, P.A. is a former prosecutor who has the experience to successfully defend allegations of aggravated assault or aggravated battery and will work hard to defend your case.
What is Aggravated Assault in Florida?
Assault is defined in Section 784.011 of the Florida Statutes. It is 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 some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent. This “simple” assault is designated by the statute as a second-degree misdemeanor.
Aggravated assault is (1) an assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill; or (2) an assault with the intent to commit a felony. Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony and those found guilty of aggravated assault may be sentenced up to five (5) years in prison.
Aggravated Assault Penalties
Under Florida law, second-degree misdemeanors can be punished by up to sixty days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Section 784.012 of the Florida Statutes defines those circumstances in which an assault can be aggravated. These include assaults committed with a deadly weapon (even if there was no intent to kill) and assaults committed with the intent to commit a felony (such as robbery or rape). The statute designates aggravated assault as a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Convicted defendants can also be made responsible for administrative fees such as court costs, probation fees, and other similar expenses.
As you can see, the penalties for aggravated assault are significantly more severe than those for simple assault. An experienced attorney can help protect you from being unfairly charged with aggravated assault in cases where it is not appropriate. In some cases, a prosecutor may acknowledge his or her mistake and amend the charges to simple assault. In cases where the facts of the case are uncertain, a prosecutor may be willing to allow the defendant to plead guilty to simple assault in order to save the time and expense of a trial. The right strategy will depend upon the specific circumstances of your case. This is why it is so important to consult with a Miami criminal defense attorney who understands Florida assault offenses.
What is Aggravated Battery in Florida?
A person commits aggravated battery by (1) committing a battery and intentionally or knowingly causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or (2) by committing a battery and using a deadly weapon. Aggravated battery also includes the commission of a battery by a defendant against a victim who is pregnant at the time of the offense, but only if the offender knew or should have known of the pregnancy. A defendant found guilty of aggravated battery is guilty of a second-degree felony and can be sentenced to up to fifteen (15) years in prison. Unlike assault or aggravated assault, aggravated battery does require some level of physical contact with the victim.
Federal Aggravated Assault Charges
It may surprise you to learn that aggravated assault can be a federal crime. The Department of Justice reports that 18 U.S.C.§ 351(e) defines assault under federal law, and categorizes it by those assaults which result in personal injury and all other assaults. Assaults that result in personal injury are punishable by ten years in prison and a fine. All other assaults are punishable by one year in prison and a fine. Interestingly, the federal assault statute does not create an aggravated assault offense for those situations involving deadly or dangerous weapons without inflicting personal injury. Because of this, assault offenses involving weapons can be charged under federal law using attempted homicide statutes. Federal charges of attempted homicide can be even more serious than state charges of aggravated assault. 18 U.S.C.§ 1113 provides a prison term of up to twenty years for attempted murder and up to seven years for attempted manslaughter. Defendants can also be fined in addition to a prison sentence for either offense.
Use of a Firearm During Aggravated Assault or Aggravated Battery
It is very important to remember that if the defendant possesses or uses a firearm during the commission of an aggravated assault or aggravated battery, the offender will likely be subject to enhanced penalties. In Florida, laws have been passed to punish even the mere possession of a firearm or destructive device during the commission of an aggravated assault or aggravated battery. For the purpose of this description, “possession” is the carrying of a weapon with you or having the weapon within your immediate reach and having the intent to use it while committing a crime.
You should always consult with a criminal defense lawyer about any aggravated assault or aggravated battery charges because the mandatory minimum sentences for aggravated assault and battery when in possession of a firearm or destructive device are significant:
- Aggravated assault: minimum three (3) years imprisonment while in possession of gun or destructive device
- Aggravated battery: minimum ten years (10) imprisonment while in possession of gun or destructive device, and
- If the weapon alleged to have been used is a semi-automatic weapon or a machine gun the minimum mandatory is enhanced to fifteen (15) years imprisonment.
Potential Defenses to Aggravated Assault Charges
No two cases are the same and it would be near impossible to list all the potential defenses to aggravated assault and aggravated battery. However, below are some of the more popular defenses:
- Lack of intent to touch or strike
- Stand Your Ground
- Defense of Others;
- Consent or Mutual Combat
- No intent to cause great bodily harm, disfigurement, etc.
- The instrument or object used is not a “deadly weapon”
These legal defenses can apply to both aggravated assault and aggravated battery charges. Many defendants invoke self-defense (or defense of others) in Florida, particularly under existing “stand your ground” laws. Because the statute defines assault as an “unlawful” threat, a threat made to protect your life or the life of a loved one does not necessarily violate Florida’s assault laws. If a prosecutor accepts this defense, he or she may reduce the charges, or even drop them altogether. If the prosecutor does not accept this defense, it may be necessary to take the case to trial in order to prove to a jury that you did, in fact, fear for your life (or the life of a loved one).
If aggravated assault charges are based upon the use of a deadly weapon, this too could become a legal issue for the defense. The statute does not define what qualifies as a deadly weapon. Because of this, prosecutors can claim that almost any object used in a dangerous manner was a deadly weapon. In the case of a vehicle, gun, or knife, juries often accept that the object was deadly. But what about more accessible items, like a cell phone or car keys? These types of cases are harder for a prosecutor to prove. In such cases, it is easier to secure a fair plea deal, because the prosecutor knows that he or she will have difficulty proving the case at trial. The difference can be significant. As we have seen, a plea to simple assault could result in fewer than sixty days in a local jail, whereas a conviction for aggravated assault could result in five years in state prison.
Call Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with a Miami Criminal Defense Attorney
Former Miami Dade State Attorney and founder of Stroleny Law, P.A., Julian Stroleny, Esq. has defended hundreds of cases in Miami Dade County, from DUIs to violent homicides. Aggravated assault and aggravated battery charges are serious and should not be handled without serious criminal defense representation. He knows how to ensure that your constitutional rights are protected throughout a criminal investigation and the court process and can help you determine whether you should accept a plea offer or take your case to trial in order to let a jury determine the outcome of your case. He will help guide you through the process at every step of the way and fight hard for the best possible outcome to any assault charges.
Due to the severity of the potential consequences, it is important for everyone to understand the charges they face. It is so important that free consultations are offered for all potential clients, regardless of the criminal charge. Contact us now for a free consultation and see what Stroleny Law, P.A. can do to help you.
Call (305) 615-1285 or contact us online today to schedule your free phone consultation.