How Self Defense Can Impact Assault Charges

Woman using pepper spray in an act of self defense.

If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where self-defense felt necessary, you know how unfortunate the aftermath can feel. But the time following your act of self-defense doesn’t need to feel overwhelming, especially when you know the best next steps.

What happens when you’re charged with assault, even when you know you only acted in self-defense? Is an argument of self-defense a legal option if a case must be made? And what might you want to do moving forward as the case progresses? If you’re interested in getting more information about what to do with your assault charge, allow us to break down what you need to know.

What Is the Definition of Assault in Florida?

While you should never get a criminal charge for exercising your self-defense rights, it’s still possible. This is most likely to be the case if you physically harm someone, even if you only defend yourself. In those cases, you’ll need to justify your behavior as necessary.

In Florida, assault is defined as the following, according to Florida Statute 784.011:

“An ‘assault’ is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.”

Being charged with assault doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be sentenced to any consequences or penalties; however, self-defense can still be considered committing an unlawful act. What makes self-defense different is the idea that committing this crime was necessary given the circumstances.

What Are the Consequences of Assault in Florida?

If you are found guilty of committing assault in Florida, there are a few consequences with which you may be sentenced. Those may include:


-Prison time


-Community control or probation

The severity of these consequences may vary depending on the specific circumstances you were in, as well as the intentions held by the respective parties involved.

What Might a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Do for You?

A Florida criminal defense attorney may be able to help you in several areas in the case you’re charged with assault.

Determine the Best Possible Defense for You

If your actions can be considered self-defense, a criminal defense attorney might be able to help. Additionally, if other applicable defenses apply to your case, an attorney may be able to assist you in clearly stating justifications and organizing your arguments.

An informed and compassionate lawyer may give you the highest likelihood of success in justifying your actions, given the circumstances. It’s not advisable to represent yourself in a criminal defense case, whether during negotiations or in a rare court trial. Therefore, hiring a lawyer to aid you in your case arguments is highly recommended.

Give You Advice for Next Steps

If you’re afraid of making the wrong moves, either during official case business or in your day-to-day life, a qualified lawyer may be able to give you the best advice. They may advise you to avoid social media as much as possible as well as tell you to avoid discussing your circumstances with anyone but lawyers handling your case.

Sort Through Evidence and Handle Investigations

A lawyer may also be capable of sorting through relevant evidence to build up your best possible argument while your case is being handled. They may also assist in conducting investigations relating to the incident.

Shorten Your Sentencing or Reduce Consequences

In many cases, a confident criminal defense lawyer may be well equipped to reduce your court-ordered sentencing and other consequences. In some cases, your lawyer may even be able to eliminate your penalties.

Get the Assistance You Need With a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer at the Law Office of Robert H. Hanaford 

The lawyers at the Law Office of Robert H. Hanaford are highly experienced in Florida criminal defense law. Not only are we knowledgeable, but we’re also confident and assertive in the actions and arguments we take for our clients. Robert H. Hanaford is known for treating each client as a friend rather than a case number, and he aims to get you to the other side of your hardship. He makes himself personally available during every step of the process, so our clients might never need to feel afraid or alone.

With over 30 years of experience, our compassionate and thoughtful team may be able to defend you against your assault charge. If you would like to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, please fill out our contact form or call (239) 315-9750.

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