Pensacola Idle Threats and Assault and Battery Attorneys
If you were arrested for assault and battery in Florida, you want the assistance of an experienced Pensacola assault and battery defense attorney. The legal team at The Morris Firm provides you with skilled and dedicated representation to fight the charges law enforcement has brought against you.
Assault is a violent crime in Florida and the legal process can be complicated and confusing. It’s crucial that you do not attempt to navigate the system on your own. Unfortunately, an arrest, charge, or conviction can have a significant impact on every area of your life.
A criminal charge or a conviction can hamper your ability to find a good job, lead to the suspension of your driver’s license, limit your chances of going to college, and may even affect your ability to rent or lease a home.
Our legal team fights aggressively and tenaciously to protect your rights and freedom. To find out more about how we can help, call our office today at (850) 503-2626 or fill out our online form to schedule your free case evaluation.
What Are Assault and Battery?
Assault and battery are charges that start as a misdemeanor. However, they can escalate to felonies that have minimum prison sentences. The law defines assault and battery separately. An assault is an unlawful, intentional threat that the perpetrator (aggressor) will cause physical harm, and the threat causes the potential victim to fear for their safety.
Battery is the intentional touch of one person against another, no matter how insignificant the contact. In other words, if a person threatens another and then pushes them, it can result in a charge of assault and battery. The law allows for a simple assault and battery charge even if there is no physical harm against the victim.
Assault and battery become aggravated and felony charges when other factors are included. These can include a weapon, greater harm to the victim, or assault and battery against a vulnerable victim. A felony charge may be imposed if a weapon is involved. This might include something obvious like a gun or a knife.
However, other everyday objects that can inflict serious injury may also be considered a weapon. This can include a baseball bat, steel pipe, or steel-toed boots.
According to the Florida statute, a person who assaults another commits a second-degree misdemeanor. If that assault furthers a riot or aggravated riot, it is a first-degree misdemeanor.
What Constitutes a Threat?
Under Florida law, an assault is an intentional and unlawful threat against another person. When that threat is made with a weapon, it becomes “aggravated assault,” a felony offense. If the weapon makes contact with the person, it is a battery charge. However, if the threat is made holding a weapon without contact with the potential victim, it is an aggravated assault.
An individual may make a conditional threat. This means a person threatens violence at an unspecified point in the future. This does not meet the threshold for assault since the condition has not yet come to pass and may never materialize. For example, an individual who yells outside of a closed door that the occupant should come outside so they can be beaten up cannot be convicted of an assault.
An idle threat that is not accompanied by any physical action or by a justifiable belief that the threat will be carried through also does not meet the threshold for assault. For example, if someone who is blind threatens to shoot another person this is an idle threat. There is no justifiable belief that someone who cannot see can accurately use a firearm.
To prove assault, the prosecutor must establish that the defendant intentionally and unlawfully threatened to do violence at a time when they appeared to have the ability to carry out that threat. In the mind of the victim, the threat created a well-founded fear that violence was about to take place.
Whether or not the defendant intended to carry out the threat is immaterial to the charge. In Florida, an assault charge cannot be made based on an idle threat unless there was an overt act that created reasonable fear of imminent violence.
What to Do If You Are Arrested
If you are arrested for a simple assault charge after an idle threat, it is important to take the following steps. Even if you believe the arrest will not lead to a charge, there are things you should and should not do that will help protect your rights against additional charges or self-incrimination.
- Don’t say anything. You have the right to remain silent since anything you say can be used against you. These are part of the Miranda Rights. You have the right not to speak to the arresting officer or any other law enforcement agent until you have spoken with your attorney.
- Treat law enforcement with respect. The police officers who arrest you are only doing their job. Remain calm and treat them with respect. If you yell or try to run away it can result in additional charges.
- Try to stay calm. Getting arrested can cause you to say or do something that gets you in further trouble. Instead, try not to let your emotions get the best of you. If you struggle with the arresting officer, you may get further charges.
- Prevent an illegal search and seizure. You have protection under the law from illegal searches. This means that an officer needs a warrant to search your property. During an arrest, they can look at the immediate area but cannot do a thorough search. For example, if they come to your home to arrest you, they cannot go in to search it without a search warrant unless there is evidence in plain sight from where they are standing.
Call The Morris Firm Today for a Case Evaluation
If you were arrested on an assault and battery charge, you have the right to legal representation. If you cannot afford an attorney, the state will appoint a public defender to represent you in court. Public defenders are often inexperienced lawyers who are overworked and have large caseloads.
If you think it may be too expensive to hire a criminal defense attorney, consider the cost if your attorney doesn’t have the time to adequately prepare your case or is not skilled enough to negotiate a fair deal with the prosecutor.
Call our office today at (850) 503-2626 for a case evaluation. We’ll discuss the details of your case, offer advice on your next best steps, and discuss our fees.