How to Avoid Aggravated Assault in Self-Defense Situations

When someone else has thrown the first punch, the natural reaction is to defend yourself. However, there are instances when this can create additional trouble for you. In this brief article, we spoke with an aggravated assault lawyer in St. Petersburg who is on our team with The Rickman Law Firm to learn a few tips to help you avoid an aggravated assault charge, even if you weren’t the one who threw the first punch.

Can You Be Charged with Assault in Self Defense?

Before we dive into whether or not you can be charged with aggravated assault in situations of self-defense, let’s refresh on what this term means. An aggravated assault is defined by Florida Statutes as “an assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill; or with intent to commit a felony.” Aggravated assault is a felony of the third degree with penalties including:

  1. 5 years imprisonment
  2. 5 years probation
  3. $5,000 fine

It’s important to note here that a deadly weapon doesn’t necessarily mean a gun or knife. It can be a broken bottle, a shard of glass, or any device that can inflict serious bodily harm. Additionally, you don’t have to actually touch another person to be charged with aggravated assault. Rather, you can simply make a credible threat of deadly force with a weapon and be charged with aggravated assault.

If someone is threatening you, however, or if they make a move to harm you, aggravated assault may no longer apply (depending on the situation). For example, if someone has repeatedly punched you and you make a threat that you will shoot them if they do it again, that may fall under a different rule because of Florida statute 776.012.

Florida statute 776.012, titled “Use or threatened use of force in defense of person” states:

  1. A person is justified in using or threatening to use force, except deadly force, against        another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. A person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force.
  2. A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be.

Tips to Avoid Aggravated Assault Charges (Even if You Didn’t Throw the First Punch)

The best way to avoid an aggravated assault charge is to remove yourself from the situation. This can be difficult if you are engaged in a domestic violence scenario or fighting with someone at home, but it is the single best way to keep yourself safe and stop the situation from escalating to aggravated assaults.

Other tips include:

  • Avoiding alcohol or other substances that can create volatile situations
  • Taking deep breaths (especially important in road rage scenarios)
  • Avoiding social situations with people with whom you often fight

What to do if Charged with Aggravated Assault

If you or a loved one are facing aggravated assault charges when you were simply defending yourself, you don’t have to face it alone. Contact an aggravated assault attorney in St. Petersburg with our team at The Rickman Law Firm. We have years of experience working with cases just like yours and will be able to pursue all necessary avenues to obtain a favorable outcome.

For a free consultation with a St. Petersburg aggravated assault attorney, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.


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