When discussing the field of criminal defense, assault is likely one of the first types of crime to come to mind. The most fundamental thing that people expect from the law is that it will protect them from those who intend or threaten to do them harm.
If you are facing assault charges, however, you have the right to defend yourself against the accusation and pursue a favorable outcome with minimal penalties. You can better prepare your defense by understanding when an assault is a misdemeanor charge and when it becomes a felony.
When is assault a misdemeanor?
Florida statutes define assault as the intentional and unlawful threat or act of committing violence to another person. Florida law considers simple assault to be a second-degree misdemeanor. Instances of assault during or in furtherance of a riot is a more serious crime, punishable as a first-degree misdemeanor.
When is assault a felony?
The point at which assault becomes a felony under Florida law is when the perpetrator uses a deadly weapon, even if there is no intent to kill. Also known as aggravated assault, the act of using a deadly weapon to harm another individual or to pursue the intent of committing a separate felony is itself a third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.
Assault is a serious crime and a terrifying charge to receive as the accused. An assault conviction can affect your reputation for many years to come, but collaborating with your legal team to contest the charges can give you a better chance at a positive outcome.