In Florida, people can be charged with assault and other violent crimes, even if they simply intend to damage property. Regardless of the nature of the crime a defendant is accused of committing, though, the State must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt, and if it fails to do so, the defendant should not be found guilty. Recently, in a matter where the defendant was accused of committing multiple offenses after he hit a mail truck, a Florida court issued an order clarifying the evidence the state must produce to show guilt for assault and criminal mischief. If you’ve been charged with assault or another violent offense, it is in your best interest to speak with a reputable Florida criminal defense lawyer about your options.
The Alleged Crime
Allegedly, the victim was in the driver’s seat of a mail truck when the defendant hit the truck with a large board. At the moment of the initial strike, the victim was sorting mail and heard a loud bang. When he looked up, he saw the defendant strike the truck with the plank a second time. When the victim began to drive the vehicle away, the defendant struck the truck with the plank once more. The victim dialed 911 once he was at a safe distance. The defendant was eventually apprehended and charged with criminal mischief in the first degree, aggravated assault, and other charges. He sought a dismissal of the assault and criminal mischief charges, but his motion was denied, and he was found guilty. He then filed an appeal.
Evidence Needed to Convict a Defendant Charged With Assault
The defendant’s conviction for assault was upheld on appeal. The court was not persuaded by the defendant’s contention that the State did not offer evidence sufficient to prove that he committed an act that was significantly likely to put the victim in fear of imminent harm. Instead, the court determined that the evidence, when assessed in a light most favorable to the state, was adequate to show that the defendant knew the victim was in the truck when he hit it. Specifically, he struck the truck three times at the driver’s side door, the third strike coming after the truck had gone forward.
However, the court agreed with the defendant that his conviction for criminal mischief should not be upheld on the basis that the State neglected to provide proof of the cost of the vehicle damage as required to sustain a first-degree misdemeanor criminal mischief conviction. As a result, in the absence of the required proof, the court reduced the criminal mischief conviction to a lesser offense.
Contact a Knowledgeable Clearwater Attorney
Attempting to damage property can result in serious criminal consequences. If you’ve been charged with assault you should contact an attorney to discuss your potential defenses. The knowledgeable Clearwater criminal defense attorneys of Hanlon Law can gather advise you of your rights and set forth compelling arguments on your behalf to provide you with a strong chance of a favorable outcome. You can contact Hanlon Law via the online form or by calling 727-897-5413 to set up a meeting.