Assault and battery in Florida are criminal offenses that typically result in different charges and penalties. They can sometimes be confused with one another, but Florida assault and battery laws have specific language that differentiates the two.
The fundamental difference is whether or not physical contact occurred between the parties involved. This is directly related to the assault and battery charge and the associated penalties if the person is convicted of the crime.
What is assault and battery?
Assault and battery charges in Florida are delineated into two types:
- simple assault and
- battery and aggravated assault and battery.
First, the primary difference between assault and battery should be clear.
What is assault?
Florida Statute § 784.011 defines assault as “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.”
An assault is considered a threat, and it does not include physical contact or bodily harm. States may differ in the delineation of assault and battery.
Example of an Assault in Florida
Here is an example of what could be considered assault charges in Florida:
A man named Rick becomes upset at another man named Phil as they are sitting together at a crowded restaurant. Rick stands up, leans over him menacingly, pulls his fist back, and says, “You better say you’re sorry.” Phil then scoots his chair back, leaves the table, and walks out of the restaurant.
What is battery?
Florida Statute § 784.03 defines battery as when a person “Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.”
According to assault and battery law, charges of battery against another person do include physical contact or bodily harm.
Example of Battery in Florida
Here is an example of what could be considered battery charges in Florida:
In the same setting as above, after Rick stands up and says to Phil, “You better say you’re sorry,” instead of scooting his chair back, Phil stands up to face Rick and says, “Make me.” Then, Rick punches him very hard in the face, and Phil is knocked backward and falls to the floor.
The level of the offense will determine whether it is considered “simple” or “aggravated” under assault and battery law.
Florida Statute § 784.021 defines aggravated assault as “an assault: (a) with a deadly weapon without intent to kill; or (b) with an intent to commit a felony.”
For the offense to be considered “aggravated,” it must include at least one of the parameters. It is important to note that a deadly weapon, under the law, is not necessarily limited to guns or knives; it could also include other items such as broken beer bottles, stones, bricks, etc.
Example of Aggravated Assault in Florida
Here is an example of what could be considered aggravated assault charges in Florida:
Two brothers, Larry and David, get into a fierce argument, yelling at one another on the front lawn of their mother’s house. Larry reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out a pistol, and aims it at David, shouting, “You better leave and don’t come back!” David gets scared and runs down the street.
Assault and Battery Laws in Florida
Assault and battery, under Florida Statutes, can either be considered misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the level of harm and the type of victim. Simple assault and battery are often misdemeanors. When the level of harm rises, an individual can get charged with aggravated assault or felony battery.
If victims of assault and battery are considered to be in certain classes of vulnerability, the State of Florida increases the penalties for perpetrators, which include:
- health care workers,
- emergency responders,
- school teachers, and
- corrections staff
Domestic violence victims also have additional protections under Florida domestic violence laws.
Florida Penalties for Assault and Battery Charges
Assault and battery charges in Florida come with serious consequences if convicted. Here is a basic overview of the types of penalties:
Assault — Second-degree misdemeanor with up to sixty days in jail, a $500 fine, and potentially anger management counseling and an order to have no contact and stay away from the victim. If the victim is in a protected class, it rises to a first-degree misdemeanor with up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Battery — First-degree misdemeanor. Simple battery can increase to a third-degree felony in certain circumstances, including if the victim is in a protected class with a maximum time in prison of up to five years and a $5,000 fine.
Aggravated Assault — Third-degree felony with up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Aggravated Battery — Second-degree felony with up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. The following situations would be considered aggravated battery: if the victim was pregnant, if a deadly weapon was used, or if the offender intentionally caused great bodily harm, disfigurement, or permanent disability.
What You Will Need to Defend Your Case
In order to build a strong defense in your case, an appropriate strategy must be developed depending on the situation and the specific assault and battery charges. Having a strong negotiator on your side with in-depth legal knowledge about the criminal justice system is highly advisable and extremely valuable.
A criminal defense attorney is adept at affirmative defenses that can potentially lower the charges or beat charges in assault and battery cases. These can include:
- Having an alibi
- Immunity from prosecution
- Intoxication, etc.
When to Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know is arrested or has been issued a notice to appear, it is vitally important to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure your legal rights are protected.
Your criminal defense attorney will thoroughly examine the details of your case, develop a strategic defense of the charges, and be an aggressive advocate of your rights throughout each step in the proceedings.
Contact Golden Key Law at 727-317-4738 today to schedule a confidential consultation.