Assault in Florida

Under Florida Statute 784.011, the crime of misdemeanor or simple assault is defined as an intentional and unlawful threat against another person, coupled with the apparent ability to carry out the threat, which creates a genuine and reasonable fear that violence or harm is imminent.

Aggravated Assault

If the Assualt is made with a deadly weapon (i.e. brandishing a weapon) or while committing a felony offense, the assault constitutes an Aggravated Assault and is prosecuted as a felony.

Assault versus Attempted Battery

Notably, an Assault is not the same thing as an Attempted Battery. An Assault is a threat to commit a violent act - an Attempted Battery is the actual commission of the violent act, albeit unsuccessfully.

Penalties for Assault

In Florida, the crime of simple Assault is a Second Degree Misdemeanor and punishable by up to sixty (60) days in jail, six (6) months of probation, and a $500 fine.

A judge may sentence a person convicted of simple Assault to probation, but may also impose a sentence up to the statutory maximum of sixty days in jail.

Public Safety Reclassification

Florida enhances the potential penalties for the crime of assault if the victim is one of the following types of public servants:

  • Emergency Medical Care Provider
  • Firefighter
  • Law Enforcement Officer

If the victim falls into one of these categories, the assault charge if reclassified from a Second Degree Misdemeanor to a First Degree Misdemeanor.

Defenses to Assault

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific defenses to the crime of Assault are:

  1. Conditional Threat
  2. Idle Threat
  3. Unreasonable Fear

Conditional Threat

A statement that sets out a conditional threat to commit a violent act at some unspecified point in the future based upon a possible eventuality does not constitute an assault (although it could constitute another crime such as Disorderly Conduct). [2]

Idle Threats

A mere idle threat, unaccompanied by any physical act that justifies a belief that the person will actually follow through with the threat, does not constitute an assault. [3]

Unreasonable Fear

If, while being "threatened", the accuser was taunting the defendant or did not actually believe the defendant would follow through with the threat, then a later claim of assault - usually because of pettiness - will be ruled unreasonable because the accuser did not actually feel threatened.

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Assault in Central Florida or the greater Orlando area, contact Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.


  1. Butler v. State, 632 So. 2d 684 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994)
  2. HW v. State, 79 So. 3d 143 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2012)