Assault

Contrary to popular belief, an alleged offender can be charged with the criminal offense of assault even when his or her actions did not result in any injuries. In fact, there does not even need to be any physical contact.

Instead, a person may be arrested for this crime for words or actions that constitute a threat to another individual. Florida law provides for several different types of assault crimes listed in Florida law with different criminal classifications and varying penalties.

Attorneys for "Assault Crimes" in West Palm Beach, FL

If you were recently arrested for allegedly committing this crime, you will want to seek the help of skilled legal counsel who can fight for the best outcome to your particular case. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents clients all over South Florida, including such communities as Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Jupiter, Royal Palm Beach, and Lake Worth.

Our Palm Beach County criminal defense attorneys have more than two decades of combined experience handling these types of cases, and they go above and beyond in assisting clients by making themselves available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Let them review your case by calling (561) 283-3259 right now to schedule a free, confidential consultation.


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Assault Information Center


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Assault Defined (Florida Statute § 784.011)

A so-called “simple assault” charge involves the following elements:

  • An alleged offender’s intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to an alleged victim
  • The apparent ability of the alleged offender to do violence to the alleged victim
  • Some act by the alleged offender that created a well-founded fear in the alleged victim that such violence was imminent

Under Florida law, the definition of “simple assault" is an unlawful physical attack by one person upon another where neither the offender displays a weapon, nor the victim suffers obvious severe or aggravated bodily injury. For most purposes, all physical assaults not classified in the aggravated assault category are reported as simple assault.

Simple assault would include those assaults where no weapons, other than personal, were used and which resulted in only minor injuries.


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Assault Penalties in South Florida

Depending on the alleged offender’s specific charge, the occupation of the alleged victim, and possibly the setting in which the alleged offense occurred, this crime can be classified as a misdemeanor or felony. The possible punishments for an alleged offender who is convicted may include:

  • Second-Degree Misdemeanor — Up to 60 days in jail and fine of up to $500
  • First-Degree Misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and fine of up to $1,000
  • Third-Degree Felony — Up to five years in prison and fine of up to $5,000
  • Second-Degree Felony — Up to 15 years in prison and fine of up to $10,000

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Aggravated Assault (Florida Statute § 784.021)

A person can be charged with aggravated assault if he or she commits an assault offense with either:

  • A deadly weapon without intent to kill
  • An intent to commit a felony

Under Florida law, the definition of “Aggravated Assault” is 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 apparent broken bones, loss of teeth, possible internal injury, severe laceration, or loss of consciousness. Assault, or threat of assault, with any weapon or item used as a weapon other than hands, fists, and feet, is classified as an aggravated assault. It is not necessary that injury is inflicted.

When personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) are used, the victim must be seriously injured by these personal weapons. Usually, serious injuries involve a broken bone or injury so severe that the victim should be admitted to a hospital beyond mere emergency room treatment.


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Assault on Law Enforcement Officers or Other Specified Officers (Florida Statute § 784.07)

An alleged offender will be charged with this offense if he or she commits assault against a law enforcement officer (LEO), firefighter, emergency medical care provider, public transit employee or agent, or any other officer specified in this statute. In these cases, the underlying offenses can be reclassified as follows:

  • Assault — Second-degree misdemeanor becomes first-degree misdemeanor
  • Aggravated Assault — Third-degree felony becomes second-degree felony

An alleged offender who is convicted of aggravated assault upon a LEO will be sentenced to a minimum term of three years in prison.


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Assault on Sexually Violent Predators Detention or Commitment Facility Staff (Florida Statute §784.074)

If a person commits assault upon any staff member of a sexually violent predators detention or commitment facility while that staff member was engaged in the lawful performance of his or her duties and when the person committing the offense knew or had reason to know the identity or employment of the victim, the underlying offense will be reclassified as follows

  • Assault — Second-degree misdemeanor becomes first-degree misdemeanor
  • Aggravated Assault — Third-degree felony becomes second-degree felony

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Assault on Persons 65 Years of Age or Older (Florida Statute §784.08)

When an alleged offender is charged with committing an assault or aggravated assault upon an alleged victim 65 years of age or older, regardless of whether he or she knew or had reason to know the age of the victim, the offense will be reclassified as follows:

  • Assault — Second-degree misdemeanor becomes first-degree misdemeanor
  • Aggravated Assault — Third-degree felony becomes second-degree felony

If an alleged offender is convicted of aggravated assault upon a person 65 years of age or older, he or she will be sentenced to a minimum term of 3 years in prison, fined up to $10,000, ordered to make restitution to the alleged victim, and required to perform up to 500 hours of community service work.

Additionally, an alleged offender will be ineligible to have adjudication of guilt or imposition of his or her sentence suspended, deferred, or withheld.


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Assault on Specified Officials or Employees (Florida Statute § 784.081)

If an alleged offender is charged with committing an assault or aggravated assault upon any of the following:

  • Sports officials, including any person who serves as a referee, an umpire, or a linesman, and any person who serves in a similar capacity as a sports official who may be known by another title, which sports official is duly registered by or is a member of a local, state, regional, or national organization that is engaged in part in providing education and training to sports officials
  • Any elected official
  • Any employee of a school district, a private school, the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, a university lab school, a state university, or any other entity of the state system of public education
  • An employee or protective investigator of the Department of Children and Families
  • An employee of a lead community-based provider and its direct service contract providers
  • An employee of the Department of Health or its direct service contract providers, when the alleged offender knew or had reason to know the identity or position or employment of the alleged victim

The offense is reclassified as follows (if the alleged victim is a sports official, the offense is only reclassified if he or she was actively participating as a sports official in an athletic contest or immediately following such athletic contest):

  • Assault — Second-degree misdemeanor becomes first-degree misdemeanor
  • Aggravated Assault — Third-degree felony becomes second-degree felony

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Assault by a Person Who is Being Detained Florida Statute § 784.082)

An alleged offender who commits assault or aggravated assault upon any visitor to a prison, jail, or other detention facility, or upon any other detainee in the detention facility while he or she is being detained in the detention facility, will have his or her offense reclassified as follows:

  • Assault — Second-degree misdemeanor becomes first-degree misdemeanor
  • Aggravated Assault — Third-degree felony becomes second-degree felony

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Assault on Code Inspectors (Florida Statute § 784.083)

If an alleged offender commits assault or aggravated assault upon a code inspector while the code inspector is engaged in the lawful performance of his or her duties and when the alleged offender knew or had reason to know the identity or employment of the alleged victim, the offense is reclassified as follows:

  • Assault — Second-degree misdemeanor becomes first-degree misdemeanor
  • Aggravated Assault — Third-degree felony becomes second-degree felony

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More Information on Assault 

National Center for Victims of Crime- Search the website of the National Center for Victims of Crime, the leading resource and advocacy organization in the United States for crime victims and those who serve them. This non-profit organization forges a national commitment to help victims of crime rebuild their lives.

NOVA - NOVA’s mission is to champion dignity and compassion for those harmed by crime and crisis. Founded in 1975, this organization acts as the oldest national victim assistance organization which provides resources for victims of violent crimes throughout the country. NOVA is a private, non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization. NOVA’s history is a reflection of dedicated accomplishment for nearly forty years. NOVA's history is reflected in "The History of the Crime Victimization Field" and the documented "History of the Victims Movement."


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Attorneys for Assault Crimes in Palm Beach County, FL 

Have you been charged with a crime of simple assault or a form of aggravated assault in Palm Beach County or Broward County, FL? If so, then you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can dedicate their time to defending you against these charges.

Meltzer & Bell, P.A. aggressively defends people in such areas as Boynton Beach, Wellington, Palm Beach Gardens, Greenacres, Riviera Beach, and many more.

Call (561) 283-3259 today to take advantage of a free consultation that will allow a West Palm Beach assault defense attorney to review your case.


This article was last updated on Friday, October 10, 2016.

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