Aggravated assault is a charge I 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 or firearm is serious. It’s a third-degree felony with a possible five-year prison term.

So I am automatically going to prison for five years?

No. 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:

  1. Aggravated Assault:  You point a gun at someone that you want to scare and tell them you are going to kill them.
  2. 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 with a Firearm.

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.

I have successfully made that argument on behalf of my 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 & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097. I am a highly effective Okaloosa County criminal defense attorney that knows how to get results for my clients.

Have You Been Arrested For Assault and Battery in Florida?

If you've been arrested for assault & battery in Florida need to speak with an experienced assault and battery attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Fort Walton Beach office directly at 850.243.6097 to get started today.

Tim Flaherty
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney