Many people believe that an assault charge requires physical contact or injury, but this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, Florida assault charges involve no physical contact at all.
As a result, you may be surprised to learn that you’re facing an assault charge even when the accuser wasn’t injured. Keep reading to learn why this can happen and how Florida treats assault cases.
Assault is defined under Florida Statute § 784.011 as an unlawful threat to do violence to another person. The following must also be true:
Understanding why an injury isn’t required for an assault charge is easier when you consider the difference between assault and battery.
Under Florida Statute § 784.03, battery is defined as intentional touching that’s either against the will of another person or results in physical injury.
In other words, where assault involves only a threat of harm, battery involves physical contact with the alleged victim.
For this reason, someone can still be charged with assault if physical contact or injury ultimately occurred, but the assault charge wouldn’t be for physical contact. Instead, it would be for the threat of violence that may have preceded the actual physical contact.
It’s possible to face charges for both assault and battery, but they’re two separate crimes under Florida law.
While physical contact often follows threats of violence, some situations involve only a threat of physical harm, and no actual contact ever occurs.
Here are some examples of situations where an assault charge could be made without any physical injury or contact:
In each of these scenarios, no physical contact or injury has taken place.
However, the alleged perpetrator still threatened violence and caused a reasonable fear of imminent physical harm, so these situations would likely meet the criteria for a Florida assault charge.
Although assault alone doesn’t involve physical harm to the alleged victim, Florida law takes this crime seriously, and jail or prison time is a real possibility.
Fortunately, there may be several defenses available in your case that can help you get the penalties reduced or avoid conviction altogether.
The subjective nature of many of the elements of assault opens up the possibility for certain defenses.
For example, if you can demonstrate that you had no apparent ability to carry out the alleged threat or that it wasn’t reasonable for the other person to fear imminent violence, you could argue that your situation doesn’t meet the criteria for an assault conviction. Self-defense and lack of intent are also possible defense strategies that may be applicable in your case.
Other possible defenses involve challenging the evidence. If law enforcement violated your rights during the arrest process, or if the evidence against you is deemed insufficient, this could be grounds to have your charges dismissed.
Defending an assault charge is a challenging task that requires significant legal knowledge and experience, and it’s not something to attempt alone. If you’ve been accused of assault in Florida, Katz & Phillips, P.A. may be able to help.
Our criminal defense lawyers in Orlando can review the facts of your case and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each potential defense.
From there, we’ll get to work fighting for the best possible outcome. Contact us today at (321) 332-6864 to get started with a consultation.