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What is the Difference Between Simple and Aggravated Assault?


An assault is a type of violent crime. It is the act of causing a victim to fear for his or her imminent safety through threatening words and actions. An assault can involve a weapon, but this is not a requirement.

Assaults are often charged alongside other offenses. For example, assault is often charged alongside battery because in many cases, the two are committed together. Assault is the act of causing a victim to genuinely fear that he or she will suffer physical harm and battery is the act of actually causing him or her to suffer physical harm. In some cases, assault is charged alongside other felonies, like rape or robbery.

You are probably familiar with the terms “simple assault” and “aggravated assault.” They refer to different degrees of assault. If you are facing an assault charge, whether you were charged with simple or aggravated assault determines the penalties you will face if you are convicted.

Simple Assault is a Misdemeanor

A simple assault is any act that intentionally causes a victim to fear for his or her safety. Examples of this include threatening to punch a victim while winding up to do so or following a victim closely, making threats. In many cases, a simple assault is a second degree misdemeanor. However, if it is committed against a special victim such as a police officer, an elderly individual, or a school employee, it is a first degree misdemeanor.

For a second degree misdemeanor, the penalties are:

  • Up to 60 days in jail;
  • Fine of up to $500;
  • Restitution; and
  • Up to 60 days of probation.

For a first degree misdemeanor, the penalties an individual can face include:

  • Fine of up to $1,000;
  • Up to one year in jail;
  • Restitution; and
  • Up to one year on probation.

Aggravated Assault is a Felony

An aggravated assault is an assault committed with the use of a deadly weapon or in conjunction with the intention to commit a felony. Generally, aggravated assault is a third degree felony, but it can be upgraded to a second degree felony if the victim is considered to be a special victim. The penalties for a third degree felony include:

  • Up to five years in prison;
  • Fine of up to $5,000;
  • Restitution; and
  • Up to five years of probation.

For a second degree felony, the penalties are:

  • Up to 15 years in prison. If the victim of the assault was a police officer, the minimum sentence is three years;
  • Probation for up to 15 years;
  • Fine of up to $10,000; and
  • Restitution.

Work with an Experienced Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer

Whether you have been charged with simple assault, aggravated assault, or a related offense like harassment, you need to work with an experienced criminal lawyer in Miami to develop an effective legal strategy for your case. To get started, contact our team at Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today to set up your initial consultation in our office. We are here to help you by answering your questions, guiding you through the criminal defense process, and advocating for your rights.



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