Aggravated Assault in Florida

Under Florida Statute 784.021, the crime of aggravated assault is defined as an intentional and unlawful threat against another person with a deadly weapon, or while in the commission of a felony, which creates a reasonable fear that violence or harm is imminent.

What is Considered a Deadly Weapon?

A weapon is a "deadly weapon" if it is used or threatened to be used in a way likely to produce death or great bodily harm.

Penalties for Aggravated Assault

In Florida, the crime of Aggravated Assault is a Third Degree Felony and punishable by up to five (5) years in prison, five (5) years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.

Aggravated Assault is assigned a Level 6 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code. A judge may sentence a person convicted of Aggravated Assault to probation, but may also impose a sentence up to the statutory maximum of five years in prison.

Public Safety Reclassification and Enhancement

Aggravated Assault is reclassified from a Third Degree Felony to a Second Degree Felony if the victim was a Law Enforcement Officer, Firefighter, or EMT. Additionally, the defendant will be facing a mandatory minimum sentence of three (3) years in prison.

Permanent Criminal Record

Unlike many crimes, if you are a first-time offender and you plea to Aggravated Assault you will be ineligible to ever have your arrest or court records sealed or expunged - meaning you will have a permanent criminal record.

Defenses to Aggravated Assault

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

  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). [1]

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. [2]

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 Aggravated 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)