Dealing With Aggravated Assault Charges In Hillsborough County
Summertime warm temperatures affect us physically and mentally, according to the somewhat controversial heat hypothesis. We are more likely to lose control of our tempers and lose control of our bodies. Indeed, aggravated assault arrests usually peak in early summer. After a year of lockdowns and partial lockdowns, this effect might be more pronounced in the summer of 2021. Since many of our social skills are a little rusty, our fuses are a little shorter.
Regardless of the time of year, the elements of an aggravated assault case, and the possible defenses, are the same. So, the proven methods that a Tampa assault & battery lawyer develops during the winter, spring, and fall are also applicable to summertime aggravated assault cases.
Elements of the Offense
Prosecutors look to enhance charges whenever possible. Based on the facts, there are basically two ways to raise a misdemeanor simple assault case to a felony aggravated assault matter.
A serious injury could elevate ordinary assault to aggravated assault. Essentially, a serious injury is an injury which requires an ER visit or other emergency treatment beyond first aid. Broken bones are the most common serious injuries. Severe lacerations could qualify, especially if the alleged victim needed stitches.
Furthermore, if the defendant used a dangerous weapon, prosecutors could press aggravated assault charges, regardless of the injury. Pretty much any solid object, such as a bottle or a plate, could be a dangerous weapon.
Both kinds of aggravated assault could involve some lack of evidence issues. The state must prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
Injury-related aggravated assault charges usually rely on medical records. Such records are only admissible in court if prosecutors jump through a number of legal hoops. Additionally, in many cases, the records simply don’t exist.
Assume Mutt and Jeff get into a fight, and Mutt badly cuts Jeff’s eye. Jeff goes to the Emergency Room, gets tired of waiting, goes home, and tends to the injury himself. The state could still prove aggravated assault charges, but it wouldn’t be easy.
As for weapons-related charges, a credible witness must testify that the defendant actually used such a weapon. Many times, these incidents happen so fast that no one really sees what happens. Furthermore, the alleged victim’s testimony might not be enough, mostly because of bias.
Furthermore, both kinds of aggravated assault could involve some affirmative defenses. These defenses are a bit risky, since the defendant must admit that the state’s allegations are true.
Florida’s self-defense laws are rather broad and defendant-friendly. Essentially, if the defendant used a proportional amount of force to protect himself, another person, or his property, the defense could hold up in court.
Weapons-related charges often involve lack of intent. Aggravated assault is a specific intent crime. Defendants must intend both the conduct and the result. Intoxicated individuals cannot mentally form this intent as a matter of law.
Plea Bargain Agreements
Most criminal cases settle out of court. So, in most cases, an attorney doesn’t present these defenses to a judge or jury. Instead, a lawyer uses them as leverage during plea bargain negotiations.
For prosecutors, risk is the big factor. If they are afraid the defendant might “walk,” they are usually willing to significantly reduce the charges, perhaps to misdemeanor assault. In that way, the defendant at least has a conviction for something. And, to many prosecutors, something is better than nothing.
Count on a Dedicated Hillsborough County Attorney
Aggravated assault charges often don’t hold up in court. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, contact the OA Law Firm. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.