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Misdemeanor Assault

Violent crime lawyer in Tallahassee

Misdemeanor assault is a criminal charge that can have serious consequences in Florida. A person can be charged with an assault charge for intentionally threatening another person with violence. While it is not as severe as a felony assault charge, anyone facing prosecution for misdemeanor assault should have a full understanding of their legal rights and options.

Sometimes emotions can get the best of anyone. At that moment, you might say or do something that you never intended. Under Florida law, even a threat to hurt another person can sometimes be charged as an assault. The misdemeanor crime of simple assault deals with the intentional and unlawful threat of violence committed against another person. The offense even can be enhanced to a felony charge if a weapon was used during the assault.

This page will explore the ins and outs of misdemeanor assault criminal defense in Florida. We will discuss the elements of the crime, the penalties, and the potential defenses to fight your case. With the right defense attorney and strategy, you can minimize the impact of the charges against you. If you or a loved one are facing assault charges, we highly advise speaking with a legal representative in your area.

Misdemeanor Assault Attorney in Tallahassee, FL

Facing allegations for any violent crime can be intimidating, even if it is a misdemeanor. It is important to understand what charges you are facing and how you can defend your case. Contact the Tallahassee criminal lawyers at Pumphrey Law to find out more about potential defenses and what you need to do now to protect yourself against this serious crime of violence.

Our offices are in Tallahassee, Florida in Leon County. We represent clients in the surrounding communities including Crawfordville in Wakulla County, Bristol in Liberty County, Quincy in Gadsden County and Monticello in Jefferson County. Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free consultation.


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Misdemeanor Assault Information Center


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Misdemeanor Assault in Florida

Under Florida Statute Section 784.011, misdemeanor assault is defined as the intentional act or threat of violence on someone else. To prosecute a person for assault in Florida, the State must prove the person engaging in the assault must appear (to the alleged victim) able to commit the assault in the near future, and it has to actually cause fear of danger in the victim of the assault.

Important: In Florida, an assault offense does not require any physical touching of another person. If the defendant made a threat and appeared to have the ability to carry it out, they can face criminal penalties under a simple assault charge. Examples of assault include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Defendant verbally threatens to hit the alleged victim;
  • Defendant actions show an attempt to hit, punch, or kick the alleged victim; or
  • Defendant threatens to use an object to injure the alleged victim.

If the defendant uses a weapon or firearm during the attempt or commission of the assault offense, or if the offense results in injury, the charge could be enhanced to aggravated assault


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Increased Assault Classifications

There are several scenarios that could lead to an enhanced assault charge.  The most common way for an assault charge to have enhanced penalties is if the alleged victim belonged to a protected group.

Florida law classifies any of the following individuals into the protected group:

  • Law enforcement officers;
  • Firefighters;
  • Paramedics;
  • Elected officials;
  • Public transit employees;
  • Parole officers;
  • Probation officers;
  • School officials;
  • Sports officials, such as referees;
  • Code inspectors; and
  • People 65 or older.

This means if a person was initially charged with a misdemeanor of the second-degree assault offense, his or her charges likely would be increased to a misdemeanor of the first-degree.

The Florida Statute for assault on a law enforcement officer was adopted in 1981. It provides for certain felony punishments and penalties. The statute covers certain alleged victims of assault including local, state or federal law enforcement officers, probation officers, correctional officers, emergency medical care providers, firefighters and several other classifications.

The prosecutor must be able to prove the defendant knew the alleged victim was an officer, security guard, firefighter, emergency care provider or other covered person and the victim was engaged in the lawful performance of his or her duties.

The offense of committing an assault on a person who is over the age of 65 years old also is punishable as a felony. The elements of the offense are the same as misdemeanor assault except that it must also be proven that the alleged victim was over the age of 65 years old.

In 2021, Section 784.011 was amended to include a new way for a person to receive an enhanced assault charge. Subsection (3) now provides that if a person is involved in the furtherance of a riot or an aggravated riot while assaulting another person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.


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Penalties for Simple Assault in Tallahassee

Under Florida Statute Section 784.011, a conviction for a simple assault offense can result in a second-degree misdemeanor. In Florida, this is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both.

If the defendant was accused of assaulting another person in furtherance of a riot or aggravated right, the assault charge is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. In Florida, a first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine up to $1,000 or both.

A defendant who is experiencing a first-time simple assault charge may be eligible for placement on probation or community supervision. However, a violation of probation could lead to more extensive penalties. An assault defense attorney in Tallahassee can help you figure out the best option in your case.

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Defenses to Assault Charges

Pumphrey Law Firm understands that facing a criminal charge is stressful and often confusing. The good news is that a simple assault charge is one of the more defendable charges in Florida law. Considering the absence of physical injury, or the subjective nature of the offense, there are multiple defenses that may be applied; however, it varies on a case-to-case basis. If you or someone you know is facing assault charges, a Tallahassee defense attorney may be able to use the following defenses to fight your case:

  • Self-Defense;
  • Defense of Others;
  • Defense of Property;
  • Stand Your Ground;
  • Lack of Intent;
  • No ability to carry out the threat;
  • Defendant was provoked by the alleged victim; or
  • False Allegations.

To determine which defenses may be applicable to your case, contact a skilled Tallahassee defense attorney with Pumphrey Law Firm.


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Additional Assault Resources

  • Florida’s Assault Statute
    Read more about the legislative language surrounding this offense on the Florida Legislature’s official website.
  • Wikipedia on Assault Charges
    Read more about general provisions for the crime of assault throughout the United States, including statistic and stories. This article also includes information on general defenses to assaults including consent, prevention of a crime, self-defense and defense of property.

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Finding an Attorney for Assault Crimes in Tallahassee, FL

Even if you have already been charged with an assault offense, it does not mean you are immediately guilty and convicted. The legal process is long and nuanced, which is where a skilled Tallahassee criminal defense attorney can help.

A violent crime defense lawyer with Pumphrey Law Firm can use the evidence surrounding your case and investigation failures to fight for a favorable outcome. Our attorneys are experienced in fighting a variety of violent crimes including batteryrobbery, and sexually motivated offenses in Florida. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free case evaluation.


This article was last updated on May 5, 2023.

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