Aggravated Assault with a Firearm
If you are facing criminal prosecution for aggravated assault with a firearm, there are several things that you may want to know. First of all, simply being arrested or indicted for a crime is not tantamount to a criminal conviction. The government has the burden of proof in every criminal case, and the defendant can only be convicted if the jury finds them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Additionally, the defendant has the right to the advice of counsel, and police must respect the defendant’s decision to speak to their attorney before answering questions or to remain silent in order to refrain from self-incrimination. Experienced St. Petersburg and Clearwater gun crime lawyer Will Hanlon can help you understand these and other important legal rights, and he will work hard to protect you against illegal interrogations or investigations by police.
The crime of aggravated assault is defined by Florida Statute § 784.021. In essence, it occurs when a person commits the crime of assault with a deadly weapon but without the intention of killing another person, or when a defendant commits an assault with the intent to commit another crime that is classified as a felony offense. By contrast, a simple assault is defined by Florida law as an intentional, unlawful threat to do violence to someone else. In order for there to be a simple assault conviction, the defendant must have had the apparent ability to harm the victim, and the victim must have had a well-founded fear that violence was imminent.Possible Defenses to Aggravated Assault Under Florida Law
Since the State has the burden of proof, one of the most common ways to defeat a criminal charge is to create a reasonable doubt regarding the facts upon which the prosecution will rely to prove the elements of the crime in question. For example, an aggravated assault with a firearm charge first requires that the State prove that the defendant committed an assault. Through a cross-examination of the State’s witnesses or through the introduction of testimony on behalf of the defendant, it may be possible to create a legitimate doubt as to whether the defendant had the “apparent ability” to carry out an act of violence. It also may be possible to discredit the testimony of the accuser that they had a well-founded fear that the defendant would actually commit an act of violence.
A constitutional defense based on a due process violation or a violation of the defendant’s protections against unlawful searches and seizures might also prove effective in some cases. Evidence obtained in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights may be excluded from the consideration of the jury under a doctrine known as “the fruit of the poisonous tree.” Under this rule, certain evidence cannot be used against the defendant if it was obtained through improper means.
Carefully investigating possible defenses is very important in any criminal case, but it is especially vital in felony cases. Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony in Florida, meaning that the defendant faces up to five years in prison, plus a fine and other possible penalties. The defendant may face additional punishment under Florida’s harsh 10-20-Life law, which applies to many gun crime cases.Contact a Clearwater or St. Petersburg Lawyer to Discuss a Weapons Charge
Being convicted of a felony offense like aggravated assault with a firearm can drastically change a defendant’s future. In addition to jail time and fines, convicted felons lose certain privileges, such as the ability to legally own a weapon or hold public office. Felons also have difficulty finding certain types of work, and a felony conviction can even be considered in housing and educational decision-making. Seasoned St. Petersburg and Clearwater attorney Will Hanlon has been protecting the futures of people accused of both felonies and misdemeanors for more than two decades, and he is here to defend you against aggravated assault or charges of other violent crimes in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Newport Richey, Dade City, or the surrounding areas. Call 727.897.5413 or contact us online to take the first step toward building your defense.