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Best Defenses Used in Assault and Aggravated Assault Cases in Florida

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Over 55,000 people are charged with aggravated assault each year in Florida. Being charged with assault or aggravated assault is a serious offense. It can negatively affect your work, personal relationships, and the rest of your life. 

Aggravated assault is defined as an assault with a deadly weapon – without the intent to kill – or an assault with an intent to commit a felony. The seriousness of these charges means you require an experienced criminal lawyer on your side to help you navigate through the legal process. Thus, here are the common defenses in assault and aggravated cases and how a criminal defense attorney in Sarasota, Florida can help you.

Intentional Provocation

Intentional provocation is a legal defense that allows a defendant to argue that the victim’s aggressive behavior caused an otherwise criminal act. For example, if your neighbor is giving you a hard time on your front lawn, you can defend yourself by arguing that their overbearing conduct caused you to act first and commit the crime. 

Intentional provocation typically cannot be used if there is an apparent disparity in size and violence between the victim and defendant. Examples are, you are a woman who is 5 feet tall and weighs 95 lbs, and your male neighbor is 6 foot 6 inches tall and weighs 350 lbs. It’s unlikely that you would be able to argue that they provoked you since your actions would have been pretty irrational. However, it might be considered an intentional provocation if they sexually assaulted you or threatened to harm or kill you.


Self-defense is a legal defense that allows a defendant to argue that using force was permissible because a reasonable person would have done the same thing. The standard for judging whether the force was excessive is subjective; the fact finder must put themselves in the defendant’s position and say, what would I have done? For example, if someone walks into your house without indicating they intend to commit a crime, you do not have to run away from your home before using physical force to defend yourself. However, you must seek retreat if an intruder enters your house forcefully. If they break down your front door or threaten you with a weapon, you must retreat first.

Assumption of the Risk

Assumption of the risk forms one of the best legal defenses that allow a defendant to argue that they assumed that violence was associated with their actions. Assumption of the risk basically says that yes, the plaintiff received injuries from the encounter with the defendant, but the plaintiff knew what they were getting into. Therefore, the defendant can avoid liability for the damages caused.

Assumption of the risk does not provide immunity from criminal liability for all offenses. For example, assume for an instant that you drive recklessly through an unlit residential street in your neighborhood. A neighbor living across the street catches you and tells you that drug dealers live in your community. Based on their observations, it was reasonable for them to assume that this kind of criminal activity was happening at your house. If the police show up, you might be charged with illegal parking because it was unsafe for a motorist to drive through the street at night with impunity.

Assumption of the risk is also generally only available in situations where one has a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, if your neighbor walks into your garage and steals a car without your permission, you cannot use the assumption of the risk to justify this conduct. You should call the police immediately and pursue a criminal report against your neighbor for trespassing.

How a Criminal Lawyer Can Help You in Assault and Aggravated Assault Cases

Discussing the Range of Penalties for Assault Offenses

The range of penalties for assault and aggravated assault depends on the offense’s circumstances. That is important because a conviction can have a very significant impact on your life. For example, a jury can sentence you to:

Five years imprisonment if you commit an aggravated assault that causes physical injury; and

Three years imprisonment if it was an aggravated assault driven by prejudice or hatred and did not cause bodily injury.

In addition, the law lists sentencing considerations for assault offenses. These include:

whether the crime was motivated by a bias, prejudice, or hatred for someone because of their race, religion, sexuality, or disability, and how much harm you caused to the victim (including if they were assaulted with a weapon).

When convicted of assault or aggravated assault, your criminal lawyer can help you understand the range of penalties that might apply in your case. That will enable you to plan how to address this possibility concerning your life after being charged.

Defending Against Charges for Self-Defense

When accused of an assault or aggravated assault, the most important thing is to review your self-defense claim. You should never rely on a self-defense claim unless you understand the legal principles involved. That is because several things you can do or say can undermine your case and lead to an unsuccessful defense on self-defense grounds.

Typically, you should only make admissions and take responsibility for the facts if there is no other alternative available. That is because a judge or jury can decide that your evidence was unreliable – which means they might not believe your claims about self-defense.

Self-defense is always a complex area of law. Your criminal lawyer will be able to develop the best possible arguments on these grounds that are relevant to your circumstances. When accused of aggravated assault, these arguments can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Additionally, your criminal lawyer will review the facts alleged against you and, if necessary, challenge them or cast doubt on them.

Advocating for Leniency if There are Mitigating Circumstances

The decision to show leniency is often a decision a judge makes in sentencing a convicted offender. That means that you may be able to request a reduced sentence from the court if it is not reasonable for you to get jail time. 

Your criminal lawyer may then be able to argue that you should not receive jail time because there are mitigating circumstances in your case, such as when you had shown remorse for the offense, when the consequences of your assault were minor, or when there is no real likelihood of reoffending.

When you are charged with assault or aggravated assault, you will want someone with expertise in criminal law. Someone familiar with the legal standards in Sarasota, Florida for proving that your conduct amounts to a crime. In this case, a good, professional criminal law firm such as Hanlon Law can ensure that all of your rights are protected during this difficult time. 

If you or a loved one is charged with aggravated assault, contact our team today to get the help you deserve. 

Hanlon Law
1605 Main St Ste 1115
Sarasota, FL 34236
(941) 462-1789

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