AV Preeminent
The Florida Bar


An “assault,”or “simple 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. Thus, the statute requires proof of three elements: (1) an intentional, unlawful threat; (2) an apparent ability to carry it out; and (3) creation of a well-founded fear that the violence is imminent.

Caution: An assault is not committed merely by the breach of another person’s rights, and a finding that a defendant committed an unnatural act is not equivalent to a finding that a defendant assaulted the victim. Thus, instructing the jury that the State must merely prove that an “act” occurred is not equivalent to instructing the jury that the State must prove assault, which requires proof of intent to threaten violence, ability to carry out the threat, and well-founded fear. When the jury is not instructed on the requisite elements of proof, the defendant’s due process rights are violated.

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