Aggravated Assault with a Firearm: Sentencing and Penalties
Aggravated assault is a more serious charge than simple assault because it adds on the utilization of a deadly weapon or intent to perpetrate a felony crime. If you are charged with aggravated assault with a firearm and are concerned about the sentencing and penalties that you may face, you should consult St. Petersburg assault defense lawyer Will Hanlon at Hanlon Law.Aggravated Assault with a Firearm: Sentencing and Penalties
Under Florida Statute section 784.021, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You intentionally and unlawfully threatened to perform violence on a victim;
- At the time of your threat, you seemed to be able to carry it out;
- Your threat caused the victim to have a legitimate fear that violence was imminent; and
- Your assault was made with a deadly weapon or a fully formed and conscious intention to perpetrate a felony crime.
To establish an intent to threaten violence, the prosecutor does not need to show that you actually intended to commit violence against someone else. Instead, an intent to do the threatening is enough.
Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony. This means that the court can sentence you to a maximum of five years’ imprisonment or five years of probation, as well as a maximum $5,000 fine. Even if you are a first-time offender, there is a real possibility that you will go to prison. As of July 1, 2016, aggravated assault with a firearm no longer carries a three-year mandatory minimum sentence in Florida. However, if you discharge a firearm while committing a forcible felony in addition to committing aggravated assault, you may face a mandatory minimum sentence.
If the aggravated assault with a firearm is against someone who belongs to a particular group of individuals, including a policeman, a college security guard, or a firefighter, the conviction will be for a second-degree felony. The prosecutor will need to show that you knew that the person was somebody who fell into the protected jobs, and when you assaulted the victim, they were doing their job. If you are convicted of a second-degree felony, the court can sentence you to up to 15 years’ imprisonment and impose a $10,000 fine. Considering the severity of these penalties, you should not hesitate to retain a St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights.
You can face a more serious sentence if you are designated as a habitual felony offender, habitual violent felony offender, or prison release reoffender. If you have a prior separate conviction for a felony, attempted felony, or conspiracy to commit a felony, and one or more convictions were also for aggravated assault, you can be designated a habitual violent felony offender when the current felony to be sentenced is also enumerated under section 775.084(1)(B). The current felony for which you are to be sentenced must be a listed offense (such as aggravated assault) and must have been committed while you were serving a sentence for a conviction of a listed offense or within five years of the date of your conviction or release for a listed offense. As a habitual violent felony offender, you can face up to 10 years in prison for aggravated assault with a firearm.
Charges of aggravated assault with a firearm are serious and may be coupled with other charges, such as carrying a concealed weapon or possession of a firearm by a felon. However, there are often defenses available, and you should not assume that you will be sentenced to prison automatically.
We may be able to argue self-defense in situations in which you make threats with a firearm that are proportionate to a threat that you face. For example, if someone is waving a gun at you in a bar, it might be proportionate to take out your own gun to stop them from continuing the threat. We also may be able to argue Stand Your Ground if you are being attacked by a burglar in your own home and take out a weapon to frighten off the burglar. We may be able to argue that you justifiably were defending others or your own property. In some cases, people are charged with aggravated assault due to false allegations, and in these cases, we may be able to impeach the alleged victim. In other cases, we may be able to argue that you did not take out the weapon to threaten anyone.Seek Advocacy from a Dedicated St. Petersburg Attorney
If you are looking for a tough and experienced lawyer to fight charges of aggravated assault with a firearm or another gun crime, you should call Hanlon Law. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation in the St. Petersburg area since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.289.0222 or complete our online form.