All criminal cases that involve assault require the representation of experienced legal defense professionals. The Fort Pierce Assault Defense lawyers at Ohle & Ohle have an experienced team of legal experts who know how to handle complex assault cases and help you express your side of the story in a way that could drastically minimize your charges in an effort to secure the best possible outcome for your unique criminal case.

The implications of assault charges in Florida

In Florida, Simple Assault is defined as an act in which an unlawful threat or an act that is perceived as threatening against another person takes place. It must also be coupled with the ability to see the threat through. This means that an assault may not actually involve any physical harm coming to another person. It’s all about behavior and perception and conviction will be based on each unique situation. This is just one of the many reasons that assault cases may become complicated in court. Aggravated Assault involves threatening behavior that is accompanied by a deadly weapon.

Often, defendants charged with assault often are bewildered. Our assault defense attorneys hear phrases like “I didn’t even touch the guy!” However, in Fort Pierce, and in all of Florida, assault charges may be levied even if minimal or in some cases no physical contact was made.

Simple assault, aggravated assault and battery

Most people have heard of assault and battery or aggravated assault, but what do these terms actually mean? While battery is usually a criminal charge that accompanies assault charges, assault crimes are separate criminal acts. Simple Assault falls under Florida Statute 784.011 and is a misdemeanor crime. Aggravated assault is a separate crime that falls under Florida Statute 784.021 and is a Third Degree Felony. Battery has to do with actual physical harm while assault is simply the imminent perceived threat of physical harm.

The following acts could result in simple assault charges in Fort Pierce:

  • verbal physical threats
  • acting in a way that seems threatening
  • instilling fear of physical harm in another

To better understand assault, let’s say two adult men get into a heated argument in the parking lot of a grocery store after one man cuts the other man off while trying to park. The individual who was cut off confronts the other man, gets in his face, raises his right fist, saying something like, “I’ll knock you out!” before heading into the grocery store. The other individual calls the police, reports the first guy’s license plates, and the next day, the individual who was cut off gets a knock on the door from law enforcement officials who are there to serve him court papers for Simple Assault. While the man didn’t lay a finger on the other person, technically, him causing fear of imminent danger could be enough for him to be charged with assault in Fort Pierce.

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Possible penalties for assault in Fort Pierce

Anyone who has been convicted of an assault charge in St. Lucie County may face penalties including but not limited to:

  • up to (60) days in jail
  • up to five (6) months on probation
  • a $500 fine

For Aggravated Assault, penalties are steeper. You may face penalties of:

  • Up to (5) years in prison
  • Up to five (5) years on probation
  • A $5,000 fine

Multiple Counts

Each count of assault will be accompanied by its own penalties, and multiple counts or crimes of the same kind committed by repeat offenders may have even more severe consequences.

Punishment could extend to every area of your life

If you have been convicted of even a single misdemeanor assault charge, it could prevent you from being allowed to receive or possess firearms for up to three. Even misdemeanor crimes will show up on your criminal record, which can mean that they could potentially impact your ability to find employment in the future.

In Florida, assault crimes are prosecuted aggressively. In 2017, there were over 57,984 aggravated assaults reported. Firearms were used in 17,697 of the aggravated assaults reported to police. A total of 26,624 arrests for aggravated assault were made and of these arrests, 1,956 were juveniles and 24,668 were adults. (Source)

How an assault can unfold

In cases involving criminal assault, usually, one of two scenarios have taken place. In cases involving Simple Assault, threatening acts or words took place and resulted in the police being called. Simple Assault is a misdemeanor. If you are involved in an altercation that may result in charges of Simple Assault, it’s important to keep your head on straight and calm down. If the police are called, there are a few things that you can do to help prevent or reduce charges.

  • Conditional Threats: A situation where vague threats have been made based on future possibilities doesn’t actually constitute an assault. This usually falls under Disorderly Conduct, a separate and less serious offense. As an example, let’s use the parking lot scenario mentioned above again. If one individual threatens to fight or hit another individual if they, say, steal their parking lot space again, and no actual threat of imminent harm is perceivable, it’s a lot less likely that charges of Simple Assault will stick.
  • Idle Threats: An idle threat that doesn’t actually seem to be achievable is also not usually considered to be an assault of any kind. For instance, if a 90-pound woman threatens to punch a 200-pound man, there’s a good chance any charges will be dismissed. Law enforcement officials are unlikely to take most idle threats seriously and the circumstances surrounding the threat will be taken into account.
  • Unreasonable Fears: If during an altercation one individual was actively taunting another individual and didn’t really believe the defendant would follow through with a threat, they can’t later claim assault out of pettiness. Most judges will rule this as unreasonable because the initial accuser didn’t truly feel threatened.

All of these scenarios can also apply to cases of Aggravated Assault, though they will be reviewed more thoroughly and considered carefully by prosecutors. Witness statements will be taken into account, as well as all information given by police officers.

An attorney’s best advice: Keep cool if arrested

If you have been involved in an altercation where you believe allegations of any kind of assault may be raised against you, your reaction to the situation and interaction with any law enforcement officials are very important. If you’ve been involved in a heated argument or any type of altercation with an unreasonable person, it is important to remember that you will be held accountable for your actions in court. This means that the way that you handle what comes next will determine whether or not the alleged victim and their prosecuting attorney will be able to secure a conviction in court.

Early decisions after an altercation are critical

It’s important to stay calm after an altercation involving potential assault allegations. Some officers may try to get a confession out of you on the scene. You have the right to remain silent and to call an experienced Fort Pierce assault defense attorney as soon as possible.

With assault cases, most convictions usually come from witness testimonies and the statements made by the individuals involved in an altercation. Everything you say can and will be held against you in court. There’s nothing wrong with telling law enforcement officials that you have no statement to give and you need to speak with a lawyer before saying anything. If you haven’t done anything wrong and believe that allegations of assault are being raised out of the pettiness of the alleged victim, you can say so, though you should be very careful.

If the other person started the problem by taunting you or other similar actions, once again, you can tell the police, but say as little as possible and don’t try to justify your actions. Some officers will attempt to secure a confession by tricking you into admitting to doing something you may not even have done. This is another reason that having an expert Fort Pierce assault defense lawyer is so critical to the outcome of your case.

When should I contact an assault attorney near me?

Anyone who has been arrested and charged with criminal assault should seek qualified legal services immediately. Assault allegations are taken seriously in Florida and may have a very negative impact on your life if handled improperly. If you’re in the Fort Pierce area, retaining an experienced assault defense attorney is critical to the outcome of your case. Choosing a lawyer who has successfully defended clients against allegations of assault can help to ensure you will have the best possible outcome for your individual situation. Your criminal defense lawyers in Fort Pierce will be able to give your case the attention and expertise that it demands. They’ll look at all of the evidence, witness statements, police reports, and anything else pertaining to your case, in order to help you build a defense or mitigation strategy.


 

FAQ

What is an assault?

An assault occurs when there is an intentional and illegal vocal or physical threat by one person who is seen to be capable of carrying out that violence against the other.

Is assault a misdemeanor or felony in Florida?

According to Florida law, there are two classifications of assault – simple and aggravated. Simple assault is the most common form, which is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by two months in jail, a $500 fine and six months of probation. Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony, and sentences can be severe, reaching 5 years in prison for each count, along with thousands of dollars in fines and years of probation.

What’s the difference between simple assault and aggravated assault?

Simple assault is essentially a threat or act act of violence that is unwelcome by the target. Aggravated assault – often referred to as “assault with a deadly weapon” – Is just that: a threat or act of violence involving a knife, gun or other weapon. Aggravated assault often can be coupled with other charges involving weapons, adding years (or even decades) behind bars upon conviction.

Why Choose Ohle & Ohle?
“We were in a bar in Port St Lucie minding our own business when this guy started hitting on my girlfriend. The argument escalated into a fight and suddenly the police were there and I got arrested and they charged me with assault. I found criminal attorney Mike Ohle on the internet, called him and set up a consultation that same day. As I described the events of my situation, Mike shared his experience as an assault and battery lawyer defending people wrongly accused of a crime. I’d highly recommend him to anyone who has been arrested anywhere in the Treasure coast.”
~ Max Bannister, Google Reviewer
Unlike many large, high-volume firms, we’ll treat you like an individual, and with compassion and understanding. Whether you’re facing criminal charges, going through a divorce or injured in an accident, what you need most right now is someone who will listen and provide you with the best possible representation throughout your unique case.
Several law firms from West Palm Beach claim to specialize in Treasure Coast cases, when in fact they don’t even have an office here. Leanne and Michael Ohle were born and raised in the Treasure Coast, and know the ins and outs of its legal system. We have offices in Fort Pierce and Stuart, and can come to you, depending on the situation.
The attorneys at Ohle & Ohle have proudly served Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie and the rest of the Treasure Coast for the past 48 years. We pride ourselves on our deep-rooted, strong ties to the community, which we believe gives us a clear advantage over our non-local competitors.
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