Assault occurs when a person intentionally makes another person feel fearful or apprehensive that violence or harm is eminent. To be charged with assault, physical contact need not have occurred. If a victim was threatened and then harmed, the assailant may face two separate charges, one for assault and one for battery.
If assault occurs without any physical contact between the aggressor and the victim, it is considered to be simple assault. To prove that assault has occurred, the prosecution must not only prove that the defendant made a threatening statement or action, but that the defendant had the ability to carry out the threat and that the victim believed the threat and was therefore apprehensive. Simple assault is a misdemeanor in most cases. However, if numerous people were threatened at the same time, multiple charges of assault may result.
In order to be considered assault, the defendant must be shown to have had harmful intent beyond a reasonable doubt. Negligence or lack of regard for another’s safety is not sufficient to constitute assault. It may be necessary to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant would have committed the act of harm or violence against the victim if other factors had not prevented the attack.
Types of Assault Charges
There are several different types of assault charges including simple assault, aggravated assault, sexual assault, and assault with a deadly weapon. Aggravated assault is separated from simple assault by the severity of the assailant’s intention. If the assailant threatens murder, rape, or severe bodily harm, the charge may increase from simple assault to aggravated assault. Assault with a deadly weapon is often considered a type of aggravated assault, but this may vary by jurisdiction.
Identity of the Victim
The identity of the victim may have bearing on the severity of an assault charge. Assault may be considered a hate crime depending on the circumstance if it is determined that the victim was attacked because of race, religion, gender, disability status, or national origin. A simple assault charge may also be considered aggravated assault if the victim is a police officer, medical worker, teacher, or firefighter that is on duty.
Sexual assault is considered to be any unwelcome sexual advances that stop short of rape or attempted rape. The strict definition of sexual assault varies widely between states and jurisdictions. In some jurisdictions assault charges may include acts of rape or molestation, while in other jurisdictions these acts warrant separate charges. Sexual assault on a minor or elder may carry more severe charges and penalties.
Actions that may be considered sexual assault include:
- Unwanted touches
- Exposure to pornographic materials
- Indecent exposure by the assailant
- Sexual harassment
- Threats of rape or sexual abuse
Penalties for Assault
Simple assault is typically considered a misdemeanor and is punishable with less than a year in jail and fines. Other types of assault usually incur felony charges, which may carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence, fines, and probation. Penalties for assault may vary greatly depending on the circumstances of the case, including defendant remorse and other charges that may have been incurred during the incident.
Consequences of Assault Charges
Assault is a violent crime and may influence a person’s ability to gain or retain employment. Especially in the case of a felony charge, any background check may show an assault charge. Felony charges will also negate a defendant’s right to vote and own a firearm.
Sexual Assault Charges
In addition to these consequences, a sexual assault charge will also obligate the accused to register as a sex offender. Sex offenders’ residences are revealed publicly online in the United States and could cause scorn and open criticism from neighbors, relations, and even strangers. Being a registered sex offender may also make it difficult to find a home, as many are wary of renting or selling homes to sex offenders. Contact our Orlando Assault Attorneys today for your free consultation.
“Assault.” LII / Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 23 May 2014. http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/assault
“Statutes & Constitution: View Statutes: Online Sunshine.” Statutes & Constitution: View Statutes: Online Sunshine. The Florida Legislature, 20 May 2014. Web. 23 May 2014. http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0784/Sections/0784.021.html