Aggravated Assault in Florida

If accused of Aggravated Assault in Florida, you need to know the:

Definition of Aggravated Assault

Under Florida Statute 784.021, the crime of Aggravated Assault is committed when a person:

  1. Makes an intentional and unlawful threat - by word or act - to commit violence against another person;
  2. With the apparent ability to carry through with the threat at the time it was made;
  3. Which created a genuine fear in the intended victim that the violence was imminent; and
  4. The accused made the threat:
    • With a Deadly Weapon, or
    • In the commission of a Felony.

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

Aggravated Assault is classified as a Third Degree Felony and assigned a Level 6 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Aggravated Assault, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to five (5) years in prison.
  • Up to five (5) years of probation.
  • Up to $5,000 in fines.

Firearm Enhancement: Aggravated Assault with a Firearm

Aggravated Assault with a Firearm is technically the same offense as Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. However the allegation that the "deadly weapon" was a firearm triggers a three (3) year minimum-mandatory prison sentence if convicted as charged.

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 petition the court to seal your arrest or court records - 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. Unreasonable Fear
  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 Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby 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)