Aggravated Assault and Cars

In order to prove the crime of aggravated assault, a prosecutor in Florida has to show that the person accused of committing that crime had a specific intent to do violence to someone else. What is important is the intent of the accused person and not the reaction of the victim.

For example, in the case of Reginald Swift versus the State of Florida, a police officer stopped Mr. Swift's SUV and ended up pointing his gun at Mr. Swift. Swift didn't like that so he drove off. In the course of doing so, the officer had to step out of the way of Swift's oncoming car in order to avoid being hit. Swift was later charged with aggravated assault on a police officer.

The court of appeals ruled that Swift was not guilty of aggravated assault because:

1. Although the officer was in fear of being struck by Swift's SUV when it was backing up towards him, the officer's reaction was not enough to prove that Swift intended to threaten him.

2. No evidence was presented at Swift's trial proving that Swift knew that the officer had run behind his SUV during the short amount of time that passed after Swift had pulled forward and before he began to back up a second time.

3. Although evidence was presented that Swift disregarded the officer's command to turn off his engine, that by itself didn't prove that Swift specifically intended to threaten the officer when he backed up.

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