When an argument or dispute spirals out of control and results in violence or threats, one or both parties involved might be arrested for assault and battery. Given their violent nature, a conviction for assault and battery in Florida leads to a permanent criminal record, fines and imprisonment. In order to avoid these consequences, consider hiring a criminal lawyer to help.
Assault and battery are two of the most common violent crimes. But this does not mean that these charges are trivial. In fact, if you are arrested or are facing charges for an assault or battery, you need to prepare a strong defense that helps you beat or reduce your charges.
If you have questions or want to discuss your charges with an experienced attorney, speak to the violent lawyers at Goldman Wetzel and find out what we can do on your behalf.
Definition of Assault and Battery in Florida
In Florida, assault and battery are different offenses. Battery occurs when an individual deliberately touches, strikes, or causes bodily harm to another person. Assault is threatening a person to commit a violent act against him or her. Simple forms of assault and battery are considered misdemeanors.
Since they are related and commonly conflated, assault and battery are often confused. Nevertheless, in Florida, there is a difference between these crimes and the penalties associated with them. Both offenses imply some violence, but the distinction between these crimes lies in the severity and form of violence involved.
In other words, the difference between an assault and battery is that an assault is a threat and does not use physical violence or contact while a battery offense implies violent physical contact such as striking. In short, battery charges are considered slightly more violent than assault crimes.
What is assault in Florida?
In Florida, an assault is defined as a physical or verbal threat to harm a person, coupled with the ability to carry out that threat. This act should cause a founded fear of becoming a victim of violence in the other person. A conviction for assault can result in up to 60 days in jail and a fine up to $500.
The elements of an assault are defined in Florida Statute § 784.011. Note that this crime does not imply any sort of physical contact, but rather involves threats of violence that make the victim(s) fear for their safety.
Some examples of assault include:
- Verbally threaten to punch a person
- Miming to hit, strike, or kicking a person
- Threatening to use an object to hurt another person
In Florida, assaults are considered second-degree misdemeanors. Nevertheless, these penalties can increase if the defendant used a gun or other weapon during the offense.
What is battery in Florida
Florida Statute § 784.03 establishes that a person commits battery if he or she touches or strikes another person without their consent. Harming a person to intentionally cause them bodily harm is also considered battery. This crime is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. Penalties include jail time and fines.
As established before, battery actually implies illegal physical contact. In other words, if you touched or struck a person against their will or with the intention to harm them, you could be accused of battery.
For example, if in a verbal altercation you hit the other party, you could face criminal charges since you touched the other person and harmed him or her. Some of the most common battery cases that the Goldman Wetzel criminal attorneys handle include:
Aggravated Assault and Aggravated Battery in Florida
As its name suggests, in Florida, aggravated assault and aggravated battery are severe forms of assault and battery. Using a deadly weapon without intending to kill the victim or assaulting a person to commit a felony is considered an aggravated assault.
On the other hand, a person commits aggravated battery if during the offense he or she used a deadly weapon, battered a pregnant woman or caused great bodily harm intentionally. Since these crimes imply more violence, you can expect harsher charges and penalties.
No matter how small an altercation might look to you, if you were accused of assault or battery in the Tampa Bay area, you should not take your charges lightly. Contact our assault and battery lawyers to learn more about the possible avenues to fight your charges.
Which is worse aggravated assault or battery?
Given that it implies the use of a deadly weapon, aggravated assault carries more severe penalties than a simple battery offense. In Florida, simple battery is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor while aggravated assault is classified as a third-degree felony.
Penalties for Assault and Battery in Florida
In Florida, assault and battery offenses are classified as misdemeanors. An assault crime is considered a 2nd-degree misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of 60 days of jail and a fine of up to $500. Simple battery is a first-degree misdemeanor and it can result in 1 year of jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
If the defendant has a prior conviction for a battery-related offense, the penalties for a subsequent battery crime will increase to a third-degree felony. This means that if found guilty, the defendant will face up to 5 years of prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Additionally, aggravating charges will result in more severe consequences. In Florida, an aggravated assault is considered a third-degree felony which means that, instead of a sentence in county jail, you can face state prison and steeper fines.
On the other hand, an aggravated battery charge results in harsher penalties. Florida law classifies this offense as a second-degree felony which leads to a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment and a fine of $10,000.
If the aggravated battery offense was committed against a law enforcement officer, the defendant can face first-degree felony charges. The sentences associated with these charges include up to 30 years of imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Facing assault and battery in Florida is an overwhelming experience that can result in a conviction if you do not have a strong defense. If you are looking for an experienced assault lawyer, contact our legal team. We serve clients in Pinellas, Manatee, and Hillsborough County.
Assault and battery over an eldery person
Simple and aggravated forms of assault result in harsher penalties if the victim was a person over 65 years of age. In addition to prison time, the punishment includes minimum fines and prison time, restitution and community work:
- Assault: from a second degree misdemeanor to a first degree misdemeanor.
- Aggravated assault: from a first-degree misdemeanor to third-degree felony.
- Battery: from first degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony.
- Aggravated battery: from second degree to a first degree felony.
Is there a statute of limitations on battery in Florida?
Florida law establishes that battery crimes should be prosecuted within 2 years after the offense was committed. However, there is no limitation if the offense involved sexual abuse or the death of the victim, or if the identity of an aggravated battery offender is established through DNA evidence.
As for an assault charge, the prosecution must commence within 1 year after the crime while an aggravated assault offense has a statute of limitations of 3 years.
Can a minor be charged with assault and battery in Florida?
Overall, in Florida, juvenile crimes are not as harshly prosecuted as adult crimes. Nevertheless, if considered necessary, a minor can be charged with assault and battery and face the same penalties that an adult would.
Defining whether a youth should be treated in court as an adult depends on numerous factors. If you want more specific information about your child’s case, you should consider talking to a criminal defense attorney for a case evaluation.
Contact an Assault and Battery Lawyer
With assault and battery charges, your freedom, future, and reputation are on the line. In order to achieve a favorable outcome, you should enlist the help of a criminal attorney that has experience dealing with these types of cases.
Goldman Wetzel is a criminal defense law firm that represents clients facing charges for assault and battery in the Tampa Bay area including Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota counties as well as surrounding areas.
If you or your loved one are facing criminal charges for assault and battery in Florida, there are different legal paths that you could pursue. Get the Goldman Wetzel criminal defense attorneys on your side and fight for your rights. Schedule a free consultation by sending us a message or call us directly at (727) 828-3900.