Some Effective Defenses to Assault Charges
In late summer and early fall, conditions are often ideal for violent assaults. There is a direct relationship between warm weather and assaults. The effect is not as pronounced during the height of summer. When temperatures get too high, people stay inside.
Ordinary assault, which is a misdemeanor, is an intentional (non-accidental) assault. Physical injury is not an element of this offense. Domestic battery, which has substantially more indirect consequences, is usually a subset of ordinary assault. Aggravated assault, which is a felony, usually involves either a dangerous weapon, which could be almost any object, or a serious injury.
A Port St. Lucie criminal defense attorney examines the state’s evidence and identifies weaknesses in it. Then, an attorney exploits these weaknesses to reduce or eliminate the consequences of an assault conviction. Generally, our team is able to successfully resolve these matters out of court.
Procedural defects cause legal insufficiencies. If the procedural defect is serious enough, a Florida judge will throw the case out of court.
Frequently, police respond to disturbance calls on private property as a precursor to an assault arrest. In order to enter private property, officers must have a warrant based on probable cause, or a search warrant exception must apply. Since officers almost never have search warrants, a valid exception is critical. Some common ones include:
- Consent: Owners or apparent owners can give police officers permission to enter private property. An apparent owner is a person like a roommate or dwelling occupant whose name is not on the deed or lease.
- Exigent Circumstances: If officers respond to a disturbance call, even something like a gas leak, they may sweep through the dwelling to make sure everyone inside is okay. While there, they may stop any illegal activity they see in plain view.
- Reasonable Suspicion Detentions: If officers have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, they may detain suspects. Reasonable suspicion is basically an evidence-based hunch. If officers uncover additional evidence of wrongdoing, they can arrest the suspect.
Additionally, officers must timely and properly inform defendants of their Miranda rights (you have the right to remain silent, etc.). If they fail to do so, any verbal or non-verbal statements the defendant makes are usually inadmissible.
Prosecutors must establish guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. That’s the highest standard of evidence in Florida law.
As mentioned, physical injury is not an element of ordinary assault. However, it’s very difficult to prove that an intentional assault occurred unless the alleged victim suffered an injury that at least required first aid.
On a related note, delaying the proceedings often feeds a lack of evidence defense. Over time, physical evidence disappears, witnesses move away, and their memories fade.
Self-defense is the most common affirmative defense in both misdemeanor and felony assault cases. Florida laws are rather broad in this area. Generally, if the defendant reasonably felt threatened, the defendant can respond with an appropriate amount of physical force, including deadly force, without retreating first.
Alleged victims cannot “drop” criminal assault charges. Only prosecutors can voluntarily dismiss criminal cases. Witnesses do not have the authority to do so.
Rely in an Experienced Lawyer
Assault charges are serious, but defenses are available. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie criminal lawyer, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.