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Can Florida pursue assault charges if no one is injured?

On Behalf of | Nov 21, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Violent criminal charges carry significant social stigma. Many employers, educational institutions and landlords deny opportunities to those with a conviction for a violent offense on their record. People, therefore, need to carefully consider their options before deciding to plead guilty to an assault charge.

Many people hope to defend against allegations that they assaulted someone else, possibly by proving that the circumstances do not meet the legal definition of assault. For example, a defendant may wonder whether the other party involved in an incident must suffer serious or lasting injuries for the situation to constitute assault.

Injury isn’t necessary in simple assault cases

People frequently misunderstand how Florida defines assault. A simple assault is not one person intentionally injuring another. Instead, it is a threat against another person. An individual does not have to cause significant harm to someone else for Florida to accuse them of assault. They don’t even need to physically touch the other person.

They only need to put someone in fear for their immediate safety. The state could charge someone with assault for brandishing a deadly weapon or issuing a verbal threat. Pulling back a fist to indicate an intent to strike someone could also constitute assault. Even written communications, like emails and text messages lead to assault charges if people believed they were credible and that someone intended to follow through on that threat.

A simple assault charge is a misdemeanor offense. The judge could sentence someone to up to 60 days in jail or potentially six months of probation. The defendant may also need to pay a $500 fine in addition to any court costs. Aggravated assault is slightly different. It involves a threat combined with the possession of a deadly weapon or an intent to commit a felony offense. Even then, physical contact between the two parties is not necessary for the state to press charges.

Proving that someone did not suffer significant injuries is, therefore, not a viable defense strategy when an individual is accused of assault in Florida. However, there are a variety of other potential defenses to assault available depending on the circumstances. Ultimately, seeking legal guidance to learn more about the state laws that relate to assault may help people choose the best response after a recent arrest.