Some of those offenses include battery on a law enforcement officer and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.
However, assault on a law enforcement officer is a misdemeanor. Specifically, the offense is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail.
Simple assault (not on a law enforcement officer) is a second-degree misdemeanor. You can see that due to the increased penalties, the law considers a crime against a law enforcement officer to be more egregious than a crime against an oridinary citizen.
If you recall from earlier posts, assault is simply a threat by word or act to do violence to another with the present apparent ability to carry out the threat.
In layman's terms, assault is a credible threat of violence with the appearance, in the mind of the alleged victim, that the perpetrator is capable of instantly carrying out the threat.
In order for the State to prove this charge, it is essential that the State get inside the mind of the alleged victim. The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged victim was threatened in such a manner, and that the alleged victim believed that the perpetrator was going to carry out the threat.
An assault on a law enforcement officer is simply that: a threat to do violence against a police officer with the police officer believing that the threat of violence is real and imminent.
As a former prosecutor, I can tell you that prosecutors like cases where police officers are the victims because prosecutors suffer from the belief that police make better witnesses than ordinary citizens.
This is not true.
Many of us have had negative encounters with law enforcement. Whether it was an arrest or a traffic ticket, we have all felt the wrath of the law to some degree. And we carry that resentment around. It may even shape our opinions about law enforcement.
While the men and women who serve our communities as police officers are brave and do deserve great respect, there are the "bad apples" in the bunch that give the rest of the police bad reputations. Inherent in a cop's testimony is the idea that they may be lying in order to cover up some bad behavior of their own.
But nevertheless, assault on a law enforcement officer is taken seriously. While only a misdemeanor, prosecutors give law enforcement victims great influence in deciding what sort of penalty the accused shall receive. Even if you are a first-time offender who should probably receive Pretrial Diversion, if the police officer victim tells the prosecutor that he or she wants to see you go to jail, you better believe that the State will be seeking a jail sentence. Is it fair? No. But it's the way things are.
If you are charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, you need a criminal defense attorney who can exploit the weaknesses in the State's case and help you to get the best outcome.
Remember - words alone do not constitute assault. If a suspect is handcuffed in the back of the car and tells a cop, "I'm gonna beat you up," it is not an assault because there is no way that the subject can carry out the threat. Now if somebody is standing an inch away from a cop's face, raises a fist and tells them, "I'm gonna beat you up." that would be an assault because the subject could carry out the threat. See the difference?
The law is full of nuances. A good criminal lawyer is trained to recognize these details and exploit them to the benefit of the client. I seek to do that in every case I handle.
If you are in need of a criminal defense attorney in the Miami-Dade or Broward area, call me today.