Most everyone knows the old rhyme:
Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But words can never harm me.
This adage was reportedly first published in 1862, and seems to encourage restraint in responding to taunts or name-calling. This is perhaps good advice, but is it true? Can words ‘never harm me?’
The State of Florida laws seem to differ. Look at the definition of the word ‘assault,’ in section 784.0111 in the 2015 Florida Statutes:
- An “assault” is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.
- Whoever commits an assault shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in 775.082 or s. 775.083.
That’s right. In the Sunshine State, intentional threats or words are enough to be considered assault, as long as it is determined that the person’s words caused a ‘well-founded’ fear that actual violence was ‘imminent.’ What might seem missing to many untrained specifically in Florida law is the necessity for any form of actual violence itself. The actual hitting of another person, whether with fists or some type of object, falls under the frequent, but not always, companion of assault, ‘battery.”
But focusing on simple assault: yes, clearly, words that threaten an attack can clearly be considered assault in the State of Florida. The person who uttered those words can quickly find themselves in a serious legal situation. Assault is no joke, even if the assault consists only of menacing words.
Threaten someone with a handgun, and the stakes go up. Even without actual violence, the threat with a deadly weapon– WITHOUT intent to kill– is considered ‘Aggravated Assault’ in Florida, and can result in a 3rd degree felony conviction.
If you or someone you know is charged with Assault in Florida, you’ll need expert representation. A legal expert may be able to determine you were wrongfully charged or if there are other reasons why your case can be dismissed. Or your attorney can help defend your case on the basis of intent, ability to actually do harm, and what constitutes a ‘well-founded’ fear of ‘imminent’ violence. An attorney with experience in Florida Assault cases can help navigate the options of trying to get the case dismissed with pre-trial motions, negotiating a favorable plea deal or fighting the charge at trial.
The Sooner the Better
Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.
The time to get the legal advice is as early in the process as possible to avoid negative circumstances. An attorney familiar with not only state laws, but the local court system can help you evaluate your case. An attorney who has handled assault cases can gather all relevant information and assist you with making important decisions regarding your case.
Count on the Ledezma Law Firm to provide strategies to protect you.
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You can learn more in your free consultation. You don’t need to fight on your own. Count on the Ledezma Law Firm to represent your interests.