Both assault and battery are serious crimes involving the threat and/or use of force against another. Although the two crimes are often associated they are not the same. If a charge of assault has been raised it means that another was threatened in a harmful manner or in such a way that it would create fear, great intimidation and the very real possibility that force could be used against them. An assault could also involve a very offensive action against one. The dividing line between assault and battery is generally considered to be when a physical use of force, or even physical contact, is involved. A heavy argument or domestic abuse which might involve offensive actions and the threat of force is an assault. Should this escalate to pushing, shoving or more brutal contact then it becomes battery.
When facing assault or battery charges in Florida, many things that can change how you are actually charged under the law. The specific facts in your case can mean the difference between being charged with a misdemeanor or felony that carries a potentially lengthy prison sentence.
What are the Assault laws in Florida?
Under Florida Statute 784.011, assault is a second degree misdemeanor offense which carries a potential sentence of 60 days in jail and fines reaching $500.
You may be facing this charge if you are accused of intentionally threatening someone, either verbally or physically, with physical harm. Whether or not you follow through on the threat, it must be possible and put the victim in imminent fear that it is about to happen.
One step above assault is aggravated assault. Under Florida Statute 784.021, this offense is characterized as an assault that is committed with a deadly weapon or one that is committed with the intent to commit a felony. An aggravated assault is a third degree felony charge and carries a potential five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
What are the Battery laws in Florida?
Battery differs from assault in that it involves actual physical contact and not just simple threats of harm. You may be charged with this offense if you are accused of intentionally striking or touching someone without their consent, or if you intentionally cause bodily harm to another.
Under Florida Statute 784.03, battery is a first degree misdemeanor with a potential penalty of up to 1 year in jail and fines reaching $1,000. If you have a prior conviction for battery, you could be facing a 3rd degree
felony charge and up to 5 years in prison plus a $5,000 fine.
The most serious battery charge in Florida is aggravated battery. Aggravated battery is a second degree felony, which means that it carries penalties of up to 15 years in Florida State Prison and $15,000 in fines. Under Florida Statute 784.045, to be guilty of an aggravated battery, you must have:
- Caused great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement to someone in the commission of a battery or if you used a deadly weapon to commit a battery, or
- Committed a battery against someone who was pregnant and you knew of the pregnancy.
What can be done if you are charged with assault or battery?
Often times, police arrive on scene and find total chaos. There is a crying or injured victim and possibly no witnesses. Many times alcohol may also be involved. Unfortunately, these factors often times lead to police officers over charging crimes of this nature. An experienced attorney can attack the charges against you at the intake stage of the case, meaning before the State Attorney's Office formally files charges against you. If this is done, the penalties you are facing may be greatly reduced and you may become eligible for a pre-trial intervention program. Alternatively, an experienced attorney will explore the facts of your case for possible defenses, including whether or not you were acting in self defense or engaged in mutual combat.
At Taracks Gomez & Rickman, we have four former prosecutors on staff who have handled thousands of cases of this nature. With over 45 years of combined experience dealing with cases from both the State and the Defense side, our legal team knows what must be done to help you avoid a conviction for the crime you are accused of committing. Call us today for a free, confidential consultation. We will help you understand the penalties you are facing and what can be done to defend you from these accusations.