Although assault and battery are often related crimes and discussed together, the two are actually distinct offenses. Florida state laws define the two crimes separately. Assault generally refers to the threat of imminent force and battery refers to the unwanted touching of another, typically that which causes bodily injury (but also may include offenses of a sexual nature).
Florida Criminal Assault Law
Assault refers to a threat of harm that leads to the victim's fear of imminent harm. The offense does not include physical contact between the perpetrator and the victim. First a prosecutor must show that the defendant intended to threaten the victim, cause the victim to feel fear, or carry out a violent act. A defendant may want try to show a lack of criminal intent claiming the act was an accident or a joke. The prosecutor must also show that the defendant demonstrated the threat through words, a gesture, or an intimidating act. The defendant must have shown an ability to carry out the threat and the victim must have feared imminent harm.
Florida statutes establish specific offenses for simple assault, aggravated assault, and felony assault. The severity of the offense and the potential punishment depends on the type of assault charged by the state prosecutor.
Florida Criminal Battery Law
When the defendant makes physical contact with the victim, Florida state laws allow for prosecution of the act as a battery. To prove a battery case, the prosecutor must show that the defendant intentionally touched or struck the victim. The physical contact must have been against the victim's will and done without the victim's consent.
As with assault, Florida law establishes several types of battery. Simple battery only requires an intentional, unwanted physical contact between the defendant and the victim. If the defendant has a previous conviction for battery, state laws permit the prosecutor to charge the defendant with felony battery for a subsequent offense. To prove aggravated battery, the prosecutor must show that the defendant intended to cause serious bodily injury to the victim or that the defendant used a deadly weapon.
Florida Statute Section 784.011 - Assault
Florida Statute Section 784.03 - Battery
|Crime Classifications and Penalties
The consequences of an assault or battery conviction depend on the specific charge pursued by the Florida state prosecutor. Each offense includes a sentence requirement set by state law, as follows:
- Simple assault - second degree misdemeanor, which can result in a sentence of imprisonment for up to sixty days and a fine that cannot exceed $500.
- Aggravated assault - third degree felony, which can result in a sentence of imprisonment for up to five years and a fine in an amount up to $5,000.
- Simple battery - first degree misdemeanor, for which the state can request a sentence of imprisonment lasting up to one year and a fine that cannot exceed $1,000.
- Felony battery - third degree felony, which can lead to a sentence of imprisonment for up to five years and a fine in an amount up to $5,000.
- Aggravated battery - second degree felony, for which the defendant might receive a sentence of imprisonment lasting up to fifteen years and a fine in an amount up to $10,000.
Though Florida establishes maximum penalties and sentences for each type of assault and battery, state laws also permit a prosecutor to request increased sanctions for a defendant who has prior felony convictions or whom the court has found to be a career criminal.
|Defenses to Assault and Battery Charges
- Lack of intent
- Consent given for physical contact
- Defense of another person
- Defense against harm to property
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Florida criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Facing Assault and Battery Charges? Get Legal Help Today
If you've been charged with assault and/or battery, you may be facing time in prison or at least a serious fine and a mark on your record. Your best defense is a skilled attorney, who can lay out your most realistic options and who will advocate on your behalf. Get started today by getting in touch with a Florida criminal defense attorney.