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The difference between assault and aggravated assault in Florida

On Behalf of | May 3, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Florida laws can be complex and confusing for many people. Two terms that often cause confusion are “assault” and “aggravated assault.” Both are serious offenses, but they differ in several key ways. The differences lie in their specific definitions and the severity of their consequences.

Both are violent crimes

State law classifies both assault and aggravated assault as violent crimes. An assault occurs when:

  • An individual intentionally threatens another person with harm, either verbally (like saying “I’m going to hit you”) or physically (like raising a fist to hit).
  • The person making the threat appears capable of following through. For instance, if someone threatens to hit someone but stands too far away, they may not seem capable of carrying out the threat.
  • The threat instills a genuine belief in the other person that they are about to be harmed. For example, if someone threatens to hit you, and you think they’re just joking and won’t actually hurt you, then you may not have a genuine fear of imminent violence.

Aggravated assault, on the other hand, involves all the elements of a regular assault. But, it includes two significant additions: the use of a deadly weapon without intent to kill or the intent to commit a felony. These additional elements escalate the crime from a simple assault to an aggravated assault.

Each offense differs in consequences

There are different penalties for assault and aggravated assault in Florida. Assault is a second-degree misdemeanor with a punishment of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

On the other hand, aggravated assault is a third-degree felony. The severity of this offense is much higher. If convicted, the accused could face imprisonment or probation for up to 5 years and a $5,000 fine. This difference in consequences highlights the severity of the added elements in an aggravated assault charge.

However, the exact penalties can change based on the specifics of the crime and the defendant’s prior criminal history.

Seek assistance

It’s important to know the distinction between assault and aggravated assault, especially for those facing charges. However, the complexities of state criminal laws can make this understanding difficult. In such situations, seeking a legal professional can be beneficial. They can help with understanding the complexities of Florida’s criminal laws.