A misdemeanor assault is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act, to do violence to another person coupled with the apparent ability to do so, and the doing of some overt act that creates a well founded fear in the victim that such violence is imminent. An aggravated assault is an assault committed with a deadly weapon, and is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in the state prison system, but it is subject to mandatory sentencing enhancements that can more than triple that time. [Florida Statute 784.021]. Where the deadly weapon is a firearm or destructive device, the crime or its attempt carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three (3) years. Where the firearm or destructive device is also discharged during the crime the mandatory minimum sentence is twenty (20) years.
The legal problems with these cases
As you can see from the possible punishments - aggravated assault is a very serious charge. I find that the usual way the charge comes about for most "innocent" clients is in a self defense situation that has gone awry, or where the alleged "victim" is either falsifying the charge for some ulterior motive, or trying to cover up his or her own wrongful actions. These cases are very time intensive to defend, and require the full attention of the criminal attorney. Since mandatory sentences are usually involved, one of the strategies that is sometimes used is trying to show the prosecutor that they have a bad case in the hope of either getting the case dropped, or obtaining a plea bargain that does not involve any jail sentence. Whatever the strategy, an aggravated assault case must be prepared as if a criminal trial will occur - otherwise the criminal trial attorney won't have the leverage he needs to be successful, or if a trial must be had - he'll never be ready.
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