Is It Possible To Get An Aggravated Assault Charge In Okaloosa County Reduced?
Posted on Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 at 3:28 pm
Aggravated Assault is a charge we see pretty often in Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa County. It covers a wide variety of factual situations where someone is accused of using either a weapon or a firearm to threaten someone.
Aggravated Assault with a weapon is serious. It’s a third degree felony with a possible 5 year prison term. Where things get potentially devastating is when someone is accused of threatening someone with a firearm (gun). In that case, the charge would be Aggravated Assault with a Firearm. While this charge is also a third degree felony with a maximum of 5 years in prison, there is one key difference:
Aggravated Assault with a Firearm requires a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years in prison.
What does a mandatory minimum mean?
It means that the penalty is statutory and that even the Judge can’t deviate from it. If you plead guilty or are found guilty of this charge in Okaloosa County or anywhere in Florida, you WILL be sentenced to at least 3 years in prison.
Does it matter if the gun wasn’t fired?
No. The 3 year sentence still applies. If the gun is alleged to have been fired, the mandatory minimum sentence is 20 years in prison.
So I am automatically going to prison for 3 years?
Not true. This is where a creative criminal defense attorney who is experienced in dealing with these cases in Okaloosa County can make a huge difference. There is a charge that the Aggravated Assault case can possibly be reduced to. It is called Improper Exhibition of a Firearm.
This charge is not a felony, it’s a misdemeanor. It is found in Florida Statute 790.10, and it states that in order for someone to be found guilty of this charge, the State must prove that the Defendant carried a firearm and exhibited it in a threatening, careless, angry, or rude manner in the presence of someone else.
This charge still talks about threats. How is this different from Aggravated Assault?
They are very similar. They both deal with conduct that is threatening and reckless. The key difference is that with Aggravated Assault, the prosecutor must prove your intent was to threaten, not just that that was the result, but that it was the intended result. With Improper Exhibition, it is more result-based. If your conduct was threatening, you can be found guilty of this crime. If you didn’t intend to threaten someone, you are likely not guilty of Aggravated Assault.
Let me illustrate it with an example:
- Aggravated Assault: You point a gun at someone that you want to scare and tell them you are going to kill them.
- Improper Exhibition: At a party, you get really drunk and start waving a gun around with no intent of harming anyone.
I am writing about this difference because the prosecutors in Okaloosa County almost always start out by charging the more serious felony charge of Aggravated Assault, which carries the mandatory prison sentence.
It is your criminal defense lawyer’s job to carefully review the facts of your case and determine whether an effective argument can be made to reduce the case from a felony to a misdemeanor.
We have successfully made that argument many times on behalf of our clients, and those clients were able to stay out of prison and were able to keep a felony off of their record.
Digging into a case’s minute details is what separates a really good defense attorney from an over-worked and inexperienced public defender, and it often makes all the difference in someone’s life.
Give yourself the best possible chance of staying out of prison and call Flaherty Defense Firm at (850) 243-6097. We are a highly effective Okaloosa County criminal defense law firm that knows how to get results for our clients.
Flaherty Defense Firm can give you the help you need when you need it the most. If you have been charged with Aggravated Assault in Okaloosa County, call us today.