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Assault and Aggravated Assault in Florida

The penalties for assault crimes increase dramatically depending on whether a deadly weapon was used, whether anyone was injured, and whether the victim had a status of being particularly vulnerable. An aggravated assault is classified as a “forcible felony” as defined in Section 776.08, F.S.

The least serious type of assault charge is simple assault, a second-degree misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Aggravated assault is typically charged as a third degree felony under Section 784.021 which requires proof that either:

  • the crime was committed with a deadly weapon; or
  • the act was committed with the intent to commit a felony.

A felony charge for aggravated assault is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Prior to June 30, 2016, the 10-20-Life statute, Section 775.087, Florida Statutes, including aggravated assault with a firearm as an enumerated offense requiring a three-year minimum mandatory sentence. After the statute was amended in 2016, however, it no longer included the crime of “aggravated assault” as an enumerated offense. For this reason, aggravated assault no longer requires a three-year minimum mandatory sentence.

The most serious form of aggravated assault occurs when a firearm is discharged during the course of the assault which is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in Florida State Prison.

Attorney for Assault Charges in Tampa, FL

If you have been arrested for a misdemeanor assault or a felony aggravated assault with a firearm or deadly weapon, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss the charges against you and the best way to aggressively fight those charges.

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm are experienced in aggressively fighting to protect clients charged with crimes of violence throughout the Tampa Bay area including misdemeanor assault and felony assault charges.

Our main office is in downtown Tampa in Hillsborough County, FL. We also have a second office in New Port Richey in Pasco County, FL, which is located directly across from the courthouse at the West Pasco Judicial Center.

The criminal justice attorneys at Sammis Law Firm fight misdemeanor and felony cases for assault throughout Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County, St. Petersburg and Clearwater in Pinellas County, New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, and Brooksville in Hernando County.

We represent adults and juveniles charged with the crime of aggravated assault. Contact us to discuss your case with an attorney either over the phone or in the office.

Call (813) 250-0500.


The Elements of Assault and Aggravated Assault Crimes

Under Florida Statute § 784.011, the offense of “assault” requires proof beyond all reasonable doubt of the following elements:

  1. The defendant unlawfully and intentionally threatened by act or word to do violence to the alleged victim;
  2. At that moment, the defendant appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat; and
  3. The actions of the defendant created in the mind of the alleged victim a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place.

Under Florida Statute Section § 784.021, the offense of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon does not necessarily require that the prosecutor prove that the defendant had an intent to kill but the prosecutor is required to prove all elements of assault along with the following:

  1. The assault was made with a deadly weapon, which is a weapon that is threatened to be used in a manner likely to cause great bodily harm or death; and
  2. The assault was made with a fully-formed, conscious intent to commit the crime upon the alleged victim.

Under subsection 775.084(1)(b)1., Florida Statutes, a person can be sentenced to an extended term of imprisonment as a habitual violent felony offender if they have previously been convicted of a felony or an attempt or conspiracy to commit an aggravated assault or other qualifying offenses.


Types of Assault Charges in Florida

Assault charges in Florida can be charged under a variety of statutes and subsections within the statutes including:

  • Second degree misdemeanor assault charges:
    • ASSA1000 784.011 ASSAULT
    • ASSA1002 Inactive 784.011 ASSAULT (DOMESTIC VIOLENCE)
  •  First degree misdemeanor assault charges:
    • ASSA1001 784.011(1)/784.08(2)(d) ASSAULT VICTIM OVER 65 YEARS OLD
    • ASSA0240 784.011(1)/784.081(2)(d) ASSAULT ON A SPECIFIED OFFICIAL OR EMPLOYEE
    • ASSA1010 784.011/784.07(2)(a) ASSAULT ON A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
    • ASSA1020 784.011/784.07(2)(a) ASSAULT ON A LICENSED SECURITY OFFICER
    • ASSA1050 784.011/784.07(2)(a) ASSAULT ON AN EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE PROVIDER
    • ASSA1060 784.011/784.07(2)(a) ASSAULT ON A PUBLIC TRANSIT EMPLOYEE
    • ASSA1110 784.011/784.07(2)(a) ASSAULT ON A FIREFIGHTER
    • ASSA2004 784.011/784.082(4) ASSAULT BY A DETAINED PERSON
    • ASSA0250 784.011/784.083(4) ASSAULT ON A CODE INSPECTOR
    • ASSA1003 784.011/775.0861 ASSAULT WHILE ON THE GROUNDS OF A RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION
  • Third degree felony assaults charges:
    • ASSA5005 784.021(1)(a) AGGRAVATED ASSAULT WITH DEADLY WEAPON
    • ASSA5020 784.021(1)(b) AGGRAVATED ASSAULT WITH INTENT TO COMMIT A FELONY
  • Second degree felony assaults charges:
    • ASSA5006 784.021(1)(a)/775.0861 AGGRAVATED ASSAULT WITH DEADLY WEAPON WHILE ON THE GROUNDS OF A RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION
    • ASSA5050 784.021(1)(a)/784.07(2)(c) AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ON LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER WITH DEADLY WEAPON
    • ASSA5060 784.021(1)(a)/784.07(2)(c) AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ON A LICENSED SECURITY OFFICER WITH DEADLY WEAPON
    • ASSA5070 784.021(1)(a)/784.07(2)(c) AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ON AN EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE PROVIDER WITH DEADLY WEAPON
    • ASSA5150 784.021(1)(a)/784.07(2)(c) AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ON FIREFIGHTER WITH DEADLY WEAPON
    • ASSA0235 784.021(1)(a)/784.081(2)(b) AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ON A SPECIFIED OFFICIAL OR EMPLOYEE WITH DEADLY WEAPON
    • ASSA2005 784.021(1)(a)/784.082(2) AGGRAVATED ASSAULT BY A DETAINED PERSON
    • ASSA5011 784.021(1)(a)/784.083(2) AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ON CODE INSPECTOR
    • ASSA5019 784.021(1)(b)/775.0861 AGGRAVATED ASSAULT WITH INTENT TO COMMIT A FELONY WHILE ON THE GROUNDS OF A RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION
    • ASSA5021 784.021(1)(b)/775.087(1) AGGRAVATED ASSAULT WITH INTENT TO COMMIT A FELONY WITH A WEAPON
  • First degree felony assaults charges:
    • ASSA5022 784.021(1)(b)/784.07(2)(c)/775.087(1) AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ON LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER WITH INTENT TO COMMIT A FELONY WITH A WEAPON

The Difference Between Assault and Battery in Florida

Although people often use the terms assault and battery interchangeably, each is a separate crime. Both assault and battery are criminal offenses that carry serious criminal penalties.

Under Florida law, a battery involves an actual touch or strike while an assault only involves the threat of this type of contact. In other words, an assault requires a threat that causes fear of harm, whereas battery requires offensive or unwanted touching or contact that causes physical harm.

The penalties for assault are less serious than the penalties for a battery. For instance, a simple assault is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. A simple battery is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

According to the Uniform Bond Schedule in the Sixth Judicial Circuit for Hillsborough County, FL, the standard bond for a simple battery charge is $500 and the standard bond for a simple assault charge is $250.


The Difference Between Assault and Domestic Violence Assault

The definition of domestic violence includes the offenses of assault or aggravated assault when the alleged victim and the person accused of the crime of “domestically” related. In other words, when the assault is committed by one family member or household member against another family member or household member, then the crime can be classified as a form of “domestic violence.”

The term “family or household member” means people who are currently married or were previously married, people related by blood or marriage, people who live together as if in a family or who have lived together in the past as if a family, or people who have a child together regardless of whether they ever lived together.

In domestic assault cases, the alleged victim might file for an injunction for protection. As a general matter, a trial court may issue a domestic violence injunction when the petitioner establishes that he or she is either a “victim of domestic violence as defined in section 741.28 or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of any act of domestic violence.” § 741.30(1)(a), Fla. Stat.

In fact, Section 741.28(2) specifically defines domestic violence as “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”

When considering whether a petitioner has reasonable cause to fear becoming the victim of imminent domestic violence, “the trial court must consider the current allegations, the parties’ behavior within the relationship, and the history of the relationship as a whole.” Giallanza v. Giallanza, 787 So.2d 162, 164 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001).


Legal Defenses to Assault Charges under Florida Law

Legal defenses to assault charges include consent. The term “consent” means that the other person in the case was not a “victim” but consented to the contact. The most obvious case of defense would involve competitive contact sports.

The second defense is “self-defense” or “defense of others.” Self-defense allows a person to use a reasonable amount of force against another person in order to stop an attack. Self-defense requires a showing of an immediate threat.

In some cases, Florida’s stand your ground statute might be applicable if the assault occurred because you were acting in self-defense. Other legal defenses for assault charges might involve defending another person or defending your property.


Florida’s Statistics on Aggravated Assault Arrests

The statistics on aggravated assault charges in 2017 show that there were 26,624 arrests for aggravated assault in Florida. Out of those arrests for aggravated assault, 1,956 were juveniles and 24,668 were adults.

In 2018, 55,491 aggravated assaults were reported including 16,792 aggravated assaults with a firearm. For 2018, there were a total of 25,739 arrests for aggravated assault including 1,801 juvenile arrests and 23,938 adult arrests.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office 2018 Fact Book, 1,450 aggravated assault arrests were reported by HCSO, an increase in 1,616 offenses since 2008. The highest number of aggravated assaults reported since 1998 occurred in 2003 (3,652) while the lowest number reported was in 2011 (1,239).

Although the number of aggravated assault offenses in Hillsborough County, FL, decreased by 1,694 (2.8%) from 2016 to 2017, the percentage of aggravated assault offenses with firearms increased by 191 (1.1%) in Florida from 29.3% in 2016 to 30.5% in 2017.


Aggravated Assault with a Motor Vehicle

Although many aggravated assault cases involve a firearm or knife, other types of items can be considered a deadly weapon, including a motor vehicle. In fact, it might even be possible to commit an “aggravated assault with a motor vehicle” without driving the vehicle.

In fact, Texas’ highest court for criminal cases listed several different ways in which aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by use of a motor vehicle could occur including:

  • locking the victim in a hot car;
  • slamming the victim’s head against the car frame;
  • rigging the car’s gas tank to explode;
  • placing the car in neutral and allowing it to run into the victim or a building;
  • suffocating the victim in the trunk; or
  • running the car in an enclosed area to cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

Rice v. State, 333 S.W.3d 140, 145 (Tex. Crim. App. 2011).


Assault Crimes During a Riot in Florida

In 2021, the Florida Legislature passed HB 1 entitled “Combatting Public Disorder.” The legislation impacted Florida Statute Section 784.011 by creating a first degree misdemeanor prohibiting assaulting another in furtherance of a riot or aggravated riot prohibited under 870.01.

In other words, the legislature reclassified assault the penalties for assault from a second degree felony to a first degree felony when the crime was committed in furtherance of a riot or aggravated riot.

The legislation also impacted Florida Statute Section 784.021 by enhancing the penalties for sentencing under chapter 921, by ranking one level above the ranking under Section 921.0022 for the offense committed when the violation was committed by a person acting in furtherance of a riot or aggravated riot prohibited under 870.01.

This means that this form of aggravated assault is re-ranked from a Level 6 to a Level 7 offense on the Criminal Punishment Code’s (CPC) offense severity ranking chart (OSRC).

Read more about crimes committed during a riot in Florida.


Additional Resources

Aggravated Assault – Florida’s UCR Definition – Visit the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website to find the Florida Uniform Crime Reports Program (UCR) definition of aggravated assault which includes attempted murder but excludes simple assaults. Under the UCR definition, aggravated assault is assigned as an unlawful attack by one person upon another where either the offender displays a weapon or the victim suffers obvious severe or aggravated bodily injury involving loss of consciousness, severe laceration, possible internal injury, loss of teeth, or apparent broken bones.

Can You Seal or Expunge an Assault Charge? – Learn more about the rules to seal or expunge a felony or misdemeanor charge for assault or aggravated assault.


Finding a Lawyer for Assault Crimes in Hillsborough County, FL

If you have been arrested for assault or aggravated assault call our office to discuss your case with a Tampa attorney for assault cases.

We represent clients charged with misdemeanor assault and felony aggravated assault with a firearm in the Tampa Bay area, including Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Polk County, Pasco County, Hernando County, and Polk County, FL.

Our main offices are in downtown Tampa, FL, just a few blocks from the courthouse. Our second office is located in New Port Richey in Pasco County, FL, across from the West County Judicial Center.

Contact us for a free consultation to discuss the assault charges pending against you, the elements of the offense, the potential penalties and punishments, and the best defenses to fight for an outright dismissal of the charges.

Call (813) 250-0500 to discuss your case.


This article was last updated on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

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