What Is A Deadly Weapon Under Florida Law?

In Florida, a weapon is a “deadly weapon,” if it is used or threatened to be used in a way likely to produce death or great bodily harm.” Fla. Std. Jury Instr. (Crim.) 8.4. The use of a deadly weapon while making an intentional, unlawful threat, along with the apparent ability to complete the threat, or doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in another person that such violence is imminent,” constitutes the Florida crime of Aggravated Assault. Florida Statute section 784.021(1)(a). Because the definition of deadly weapons is so broad, Florida courts have designated many instrumentalities as a “deadly weapon.” Here is a sampling of some Florida court decisions regarding what is and what is not a deadly weapon in Florida:

Instrumentalities Held To Be Deadly Weapons

A firearm is, by definition, a deadly weapon because it is designed to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive which is likely to cause death or great bodily injury. State v. Williams, No. 3D08-1586 Decided: May 27, 2009.

A knife, when used by a person making threats outside a car towards a person sitting inside of a car with a closed window, is a deadly weapon. King v. State, 12 So. 3d 1271 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009). A pocket knife, when waived around by a defendant while threatening to “poke” the alleged victim, was held to be a deadly weapon. J.M. v. State, 872 So. 2d 985 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004).

A moving automobile driven towards police officers, while they are sitting in another vehicle, as if intending to make an impact, is a deadly weapon. Bryan v. State, 865 So. 2d 677 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004).

A dart from a blow gun, which penetrated a victim’s back one inch, but required no medical treatment, is a deadly weapon. V.M.N. v. State, 909 So. 2d 953 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005).

A glass bottle thrown overhand and striking within a foot of victim is a deadly weapon. H.E.S. v. State, 773 So. 2d 90 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000). The use of a beer bottle to strike the alleged victim on the head is a deadly weapon. Cloninger v. State, 846 So. 2d 1192 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003).

Instrumentalities That Were Held Not To Be Deadly Weapons

A bicycle thrown at a victim is not a deadly weapon. D.B.B. v. State, 997 So. 2d 484 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008).

A skateboard thrown at victim is not a deadly weapon. E.J. v. State, 554 So. 2d 578 (Fla. 3d DCA 1989).

A broom handle thrown at victim is not a deadly weapon. Forchion v. State, 214 So. 2d 751 (Fla. 3d DCA 1968).

A flower pot, one foot in diameter filled with dirt, thrown at window, breaking glass but not penetrating the screen, is not a deadly weapon. Rogan v. State, 203 So. 2d 24 (Fla. 3d DCA 1967).

A fork used to stab a victim three times in the back, fork caused scratches, swelling, and puncture marks, but no medical treatment required, not a deadly weapon. C.A.C. v. State, 771 So. 2d 1261 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000).

Looking at these different court rulings, you may have been surprised by what has and has not been considered a deadly weapon. Other than obvious devices, like a discharged gun, the definition of a deadly weapon is a very fact-intensive analysis that requires the help of an experienced defense attorney.

If you’ve been arrested for a crime involving the alleged use of a deadly weapon, call Alan Fowler, an experienced Key West criminal defense attorney, for a consultation at 305.912.2516.