Both harassment and assault are serious charges in Florida. It is important to know the difference between harassment and assault laws and penalties. A person accused of either harassment or assault will want to seek the services of a professional criminal defense attorney experienced in such cases.
Harassment vs. Assault Laws in Florida
Harassment under Florida law is closely associated with laws on stalking and cyberstalking. This means that an individual may be accused of harassment without making physical contact with the plaintiff. The accused might harass another person verbally, in written form or through computer-mediated communication such as social media. Harassment is loosely defined in Florida as an action directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress and serves no legitimate purpose. The action must be consistent and repeated in order to constitute harassment. Harassment is a first-degree misdemeanor.
Assault Laws in Florida
Although many people may consider assault more serious than harassment, both terms have broad definitions that may cover a variety of acts. Depending on the situation, an assault may actually carry a less severe penalty than harassment in Florida. An assault in generally defined in Florida as an action that may be interpreted as a threat of violence combined with the apparent ability to follow through on that threat. It is important to note that a person does not have to actually cause harm to another person to be found guilty of assault. Merely the threat of harm is sufficient. Assault is a second-degree misdemeanor.
Aggravated Assault or Harassment
When the term aggravated is attached to either an assault or harassment charge, the penalties become more serious. Aggravated assault and some harassment charges, including aggravated stalking, are felonies. An assault becomes aggravated when it includes the use of a deadly weapon and there is an obvious intent to commit a felony but not an intent to kill. If there is an intent to kill, then the charge may be sharply elevated to attempted murder.
Aggravated harassment, or stalking, can happen if the harassment is combined with a credible threat to the person’s safety. The charge may also be elevated if the person continues to harass after an injunction for protection has been secured by the plaintiff.
Contact the Khonsari Law Group for Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Attorneys
Acquiring the representation of a criminal defense attorney is a vital part of dealing with any criminal charge. Whether a charge is a misdemeanor or a felony, the accused will want the best defense possible. The attorneys at the Khonsari Law Group are dedicated to ensuring ideal outcomes for all of their clients. Criminal charges can be stressful and overwhelming. It is important to get professional representation as soon as possible. Contact us today.