Assault and Battery
Assault and battery are often confused, but the two are actually separate offenses. A major distinction between the two charges is that assault typically refers to a threat of imminent bodily harm, while battery usually involves physical contact.
What Is Considered a Battery Offense?
In Florida, a battery charge usually refers to the act of a person using intentional force to cause bodily injury or to offensively touch someone else without their consent. Under Florida law, there are three different types of battery.
Types of Battery
The State of Florida separates battery into the following categories:
- Simple battery (§784.03, Fla. Stat.) only requires the defendant to make intentional, physical contact with the victim against their will.
- Felony battery (§784.03, Fla. Stat.) is a charge a prosecutor can pursue if the defendant already has a past conviction for battery and is being accused of the same
- Aggravated battery (§784.045, Fla. Stat.) is considered more serious than a simple battery because it includes either the intent to cause serious bodily harm or the use of a deadly weapon.
Domestic Violence Battery
Domestic violence (§741.28, Fla. Stat.) occurs when a spouse, ex-spouse, co-parent of a child, or another domestic partner, commits or attempts to commit a criminal act like a battery, assault, false imprisonment, aggravated battery, or stalking against a victim.
Battery on a Person 65 or Older
Battery committed on a person 65 or older (§784.08, Fla. Stat.) is an offense where the charge is not only based on the act of battery (or aggravated battery) alone, but it also depends on the age of the victim. Specifically, if the victim of a battery is 65 or older, they are considered a senior citizen, and that can bring harsher consequences for convictions in Florida.
A defendant can be charged with battery on a person 65 or older even if they did not know the victim’s age at the time of the offense. Also, a defendant can be charged with battery on a person 65 or older even if they are the same age or older that the alleged victim.
If you have been charged with battery and have questions about the charge or your criminal case, speaking with a lawyer may put your mind at ease.Contact us to get connected with our legal team today.
What Is Assault?
Assault does not include an act of physical touching. Instead, assault refers to a person intentionally causing a victim to expect and to fear imminent bodily harm. This ‘threat of violence’ can amount to assault through action and words. To prove an assault charge, a prosecutor must show that a defendant made a threat of violence and had the ability to carry out their threat and that the victim had a reasonable fear that violence was imminent.
Types of Assault
The charge of assault can be separated into two categories, depending on the severity and circumstances surrounding the action:
- Simple assault (§784.011, Fla. Stat.) is the most basic form of assault, involving an intentional and authentic threat of dangerous harm to a victim, who reasonably has a fear that violence is imminent.
- Aggravated assault (§784.021, Fla. Stat.) is typically considered a more severe form of the offense because it includes a more serious threat of harm. Generally speaking, aggravated assault involves ‘assault with a deadly weapon’ or ‘assault during the commission of another felony’.
Facing an assault charge can be difficult and overwhelming. You may have many questions and feel uncertain about your future. We are here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Penalties and Sentencing
Penalties for assault and battery charges may depend on several factors, including how severe a charge the prosecutor pursues, the defendant’s criminal history, and the circumstances of the incident. However, each offense carries a sentence requirement that is set out by the laws of the State of Florida.
- Simple assault is considered a second-degree misdemeanor. A conviction for this charge can result in a sentence of imprisonment for a term no more than 60 days and a fine of no more than $500
- Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony. As a more serious charge, a conviction for aggravated assault can allow a prosecutor to seek a sentence of five years imprisonment, plus a fine of up to $5,000.
- Simple battery is a first-degree misdemeanor, which can result in a sentence of one-year imprisonment and a fine of $1000 or less.
- Felony battery is a third-degree felony. This means a conviction can result in a sentence of imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of no more than $5000.
- Aggravated battery is a second-degree felony. For this more serious charge, state law allows a prosecutor to seek a sentence of imprisonment for a term of up to 15 years and a fine of no more than $10,000.
Defenses to Assault and Battery Charges
Depending on the circumstances of the case, there are some defenses that exist to fight against assault and battery charges. Some of the most common defenses include the following:
- Accidental contact
- Lack of intent
- Consent from victim (i.e. touching was not against their will)
- Defense of another person
- Defense against harm to one’s property
When it comes to defenses, keep in mind that no two cases are alike. If you have been charged with assault or battery and believe you have a defense, it may be best to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about the specifics of your case.
If you’re facing a criminal charge, chances are you are anxious about your future. Hiring a lawyer you trust can make all the difference. Our legal team can explain your options, answer your questions, and help you build a case. Let us step in to fight for you. Call The Law Office of Daniel J. Fernandez, P.A. at (813) 229-5353 today.