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Florida Senate Moves to Abolish 20-Year Mandatory Sentence for Aggravated Assault

Just recently the Florida Senate voted unanimously to remove aggravated assault where a firearm is discharged from the list of offenses which would result in the automatic imposition of a 20-year prison term upon conviction. Under Florida’s 10-20-Life law passed over 20 years ago, a person who committed aggravated assault using a firearm – even if the purpose was just to fire a “warning shot” at a person to prevent a fight or disturbance from escalating further. The bill has wide approval and is expected to be signed into law by the governor soon.

Aggravated Assault in Florida

The crime of assault in Florida occurs when one person engages in conduct that reasonably causes another person to fear imminent violence against him or her. “Conduct” can include threats as well as physical actions (such as “winding up” for a punch). An assault becomes an “aggravated assault” when it is committed with a deadly weapon such as a firearm. When committed with a firearm and the firearm was discharged during the commission of the aggravated assault (as mentioned above), the court would have no choice but to sentence the defendant to a mandatory term of imprisonment of 20 years.

Aggravated Assault Would Still Be a Felony

The proposed bill to be presented to the governor for signature would not amend the severity of the crime. That is, even after the bill is signed into law by the governor, aggravated assault would still remain punishable by up to five years in prison. If the aggravated assault was committed with a firearm (regardless of whether it was discharged or not), there could still be a mandatory incarceration period of three years imposed on the defendant. This makes aggravated assault a serious crime, even after the new law goes into effect.

Defenses to Assault Charges

There are a number of potential defenses to an assault charge that may be applicable in your case. If you committed assault or aggravated assault to stop a situation from escalating into a physical confrontation, you may be able to assert a defense theory of self-defense, for example.

Of course, if the prosecution does not have the evidence to support each and every element of the charge (i.e., no evidence to suggest you had the ability to carry out the threat right away or no evidence that the other person’s fear was reasonable under the circumstances), then you will also be able to succeed in your criminal case.

Contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Today

If you or a loved one has been charged with aggravated assault or another serious felony in Florida, contact South Florida criminal defense attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner right away. Jeffrey S. Weiner’s skill and experience enable him to quickly determine what defenses you have available to you in your case. He will provide you with well-informed advice and counsel and will work with you to craft a defense strategy designed to preserve your freedom and good name. Contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. today by calling (305) 670-9919 or contacting his office online.

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