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Fort Lauderdale Attorneys Describe the Punishments for Different Levels of Assault


Fort Lauderdale Attorneys Describe the Punishments for Different Levels of Assault

Assault charges in Florida can vary widely depending on the circumstances of the case. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys explain that there are different levels of assault charges, each carrying their own punishments if convicted.

Simple Assault

A simple assault charge is generally considered a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida. This means it is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and fines up to $500. To be convicted of simple assault, the prosecution must prove the defendant intentionally and unlawfully threatened another person and had the apparent ability to carry out that threat. The threat must also have created a well-founded fear in the victim that violence was imminent.

Fort Lauderdale attorneys explain simple assault does not require any physical contact – just the threat of violence. Some examples could include threatening gestures, verbal threats, or brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner. Even if no weapon is involved, a convincing physical threat could lead to a simple assault charge.

Defense attorneys may argue the alleged threat was just a misunderstanding, or the accused person was acting in self-defense against a provocation by the alleged victim. Other defenses focus on lack of evidence the threat was credible or intentional.

Aggravated Assault

An aggravated assault charge is more serious than simple assault. It is charged as a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

For an assault to be considered aggravated assault, it must involve a deadly weapon or the intent to commit another felony crime. Threatening someone with a gun or knife are common examples. But aggravated assault does not require a weapon – any threat to kill or seriously injure someone could qualify.

Defenses against aggravated assault charges often question whether a deadly weapon was actually involved. The accused may argue they were improperly identified or falsely accused. Self-defense is also a common counter-argument.

Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer

Assaulting or threatening a law enforcement officer carries even stiffer punishments in Florida. Simple assault on a law enforcement officer is a first-degree misdemeanor, with penalties up to one year in jail. Aggravated assault jumps to a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Defendants may claim the officer acted improperly and any perceived threat was simply self-defense. But prosecutors tend to pursue these charges vigorously, so skilled legal defense is essential.


Battery is often charged alongside assault, but they are separate offenses. Battery requires physical contact, whereas assault only requires threats. Simple battery is a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida, with up to one year in jail. Aggravated battery is a second-degree felony with penalties up to 15 years imprisonment.

Defending against battery charges requires contesting the unwanted contact. The accused may claim self-defense or provocation by the alleged victim. Or they may argue the physical contact was accidental and not intentional.

Domestic Violence

Any assault or battery charges are enhanced if they involve domestic or dating relationship violence. Domestic simple assault jumps to a first-degree misdemeanor while domestic aggravated assault becomes a second-degree felony.

Defendants in domestic violence cases may claim the alleged victim is exaggerating or making false accusations out of anger or retribution. But domestic charges should never be taken lightly. Experienced legal counsel is critical.

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