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Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Florida

Violent crime lawyer in Tallahassee

Assault with a Deadly Weapon is prosecuted as “Aggravated Assault” in Florida, which is a felony. If the deadly weapon is a firearm or destructive device such as a pipe bomb, you face harsh mandatory minimum sentencing of years or even decades in prison.

You might be convicted of this offense even if nobody was harmed in the incident. You may also be convicted of using an item that you would not normally think of as a deadly weapon, such as a pocketknife or a car.

Attorney for an Assault with a Deadly Weapon Crime in Tallahassee, FL

Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tallahassee is very important if you have been accused of this crime in Florida. The attorneys at Pumphrey Law are familiar with Florida criminal law and have successfully defended clients accused of this crime.

The attorneys at Pumphrey Law have years of experience representing those charged with Florida felony assault offenses, including Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. They are devoted to protecting the rights of clients, and they will fight to get the best possible outcome for your case anywhere in Florida.

Pumphrey Law represents adults and juveniles accused of this charge and all others in Tallahassee, Bristol, Monticello, Midway, Quincy, nearby areas and throughout the state. Call (850) 681-7777 or send a message via our website today to discuss your defense options during a free consultation with our legal team.

Information on the Charge

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Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Florida Defined

Assault with a Deadly Weapon without intent to kill in Florida can be charged as an Aggravated Assault under Florida Statutes § 784.021(1)(a). If you are accused of Assault with a Deadly Weapon with intent to kill, you will face more serious Attempted Murder or Murder charges.

As with any Assault charge in Florida, the prosecution needs to prove there was an intentional threat by word or action to do violence to another person, combined with the apparent ability to carry out the threat, and an action which created a well-founded fear in the other person that violence was imminent. The prosecution does not need to prove that you intended to harm the person, and you can be convicted even if nobody was hurt.

A “deadly weapon” is any object that is used or is threatened to be used in a way that is likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Examples of things that can be considered deadly weapons are:

  • Guns;
  • Fireworks;
  • Knives, including small pocketknives;
  • Cars and other vehicles;
  • Glass bottles;
  • Steel-toed boots;
  • Any solid object used as a club; or,
  • Substances used as poisons

What’s the Difference Between Aggravated Assault and Aggravated Battery?  

States define assault and battery differently, and the media often confuses the two crimes. In Florida, the key difference is that an assault is the fear of immediate harm, and battery is when intentional unwanted touching occurs. For example, if an individual corners another person in a corner, screams at them, and raises their hands, the person cornered fears that they will get hit. This is assault. You do not have to touch the person to be criminally prosecuted. Now add a gun or other deadly weapon to this situation and the conduct can be charged as aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. If the individual strikes the person they cornered, that’s a battery. Aggravated battery means that were was intentional conduct to cause serious harm to another person or a deadly weapon was used in the battery. These two charges are not necessarily mutually exclusive, a lot of the time they are charged together when actual contact is made.

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Penalties for Assault with a Deadly Weapon

If convicted of Aggravated Assault after being accused of Assault with a Deadly Weapon, a third-degree felony, you face:

  • Up to five years in prison
  • Up to $5,000 in fines

If convicted of another Aggravated Assault, within five years of completing the sentence, a court may impose harsher penalties. If convicted again you may face:

  • Mandatory minimum of five years in prison
  • Up to ten years in prison

If the deadly weapon involved in the assault was a gun or destructive device such as a pipe bomb, you would face long mandatory minimum sentences under Florida Statutes § 775.087:

  • Mandatory minimum three years in prison for assault with any gun or destructive device
  • Mandatory minimum 15 years in prison for assault with any automatic weapon or high-capacity (20 rounds or more) semi-automatic weapon
  • Mandatory minimum 20 years in prison if the weapon is discharged during the assault
  • Mandatory minimum 25 years in prison, and the possibility of life in prison, if the victim dies or suffers great bodily harm

These mandatory minimum sentences can only be waived if the court finds that:

  • The accused had a good faith but mistaken belief that the action was justifiable, such as in self-defense.
  • The action was not committed in the course of committing another criminal offense.
  • The accused does not pose a threat to public safety.
  • The totality of the circumstances involved in the offense does not justify the imposition of such a sentence.

Also, you will have a permanent record as a violent felon, which can have a very negative effect on future opportunities if someone runs a criminal background check on you. You will also be permanently banned, by federal law, from the possession of guns anywhere in the country.

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Defenses for an Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charge in Florida

Some defenses are available to you if you are accused of this crime. For example, your actions may have been justifiable in defense of yourself, others, or property, and the alleged victim may have been the aggressor in the situation.

The prosecution must prove an intent to threaten imminent violence. A conditional threat, such as “I will shoot you if I see you on my property again,” should not result in a conviction for aggravated assault.

The prosecution must prove that an intentional action was committed which created a well-founded fear in the other person that violence was imminent. Mere threats which are not accompanied by any physical action should not result in a conviction for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Florida, nor should accidental actions which create fear in another person.

If the victim is not afraid, or that fear is not well-founded, you should not be convicted of aggravated assault. This can sometimes be demonstrated by the actions of the supposed victim, for example, if the supposed victim continued to approach you aggressively while supposedly afraid.

Depending on the facts of your case, your charges may be dropped entirely. Alternatively, your charges may be reduced to a misdemeanor charge such as Disorderly Conduct, Improper Exhibition of a Dangerous Weapon, or Discharging a Firearm in Public. A skilled and experienced Tallahassee criminal defense lawyer can help you explore which defenses are available to you and find the best option for your situation.

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Finding An Assault with a Deadly Weapon Attorney in Leon County, Florida

If you have been accused of assault with a deadly weapon in Leon County, contact Pumphrey Law to discuss the facts of your individual case. There may be defenses to the charges you face, and finding an experienced felony criminal defense lawyer in Tallahassee who is familiar with Florida criminal law is your best option to avoid the penalties and social stigma that come with a violent felony conviction.

The attorneys at Pumphrey Law will aggressively fight for your defense, and may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed entirely. Call us at (850) 681-7777 for a free consultation today.

This article was last updated on April 22, 2022.

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