The word “assault” conjures up images of a punch in the stomach or a slap across the face. Aggravated assault, however, is much more serious than that. In Florida, it can be a serious crime, depending on several factors that include whether a weapon was used, the intent of the person committing the assault or the injury caused to a victim.

Aggravated assault often is determined to be a felony, while simple assault is a misdemeanor. If you are charged with aggravated assault, you definitely will want an experienced defense attorney on your side.

Using a deadly weapon during the commission of an assault likely will turn the charge into aggravated assault. That’s the case even if no one has been physically injured. Aggravated assault occurs when a defendant behaves in such a way that the victim fears for their safety.

Weapons are considered to be deadly weapons if they can cause serious injury or death, such as guns. Even using something like a pocket knife, though not generally considered a deadly weapon, can lend itself to a charge of aggravated assault because it could lead to death if held, for instance, against a victim’s major artery.

Some assaults will be classified as aggravated if the victim is a member of law enforcement or another person in public service, such as a teacher. The victim must have been performing official duties at the time of the assault for it to be an aggravated assault.

Assaults also can be felonies if committed against a victim because of their religion, sexual orientation or race, for example. Remember, too, that an assault can be determined to be aggravated if someone is seriously injured, such as being disfigured or maimed.