What is the difference between assault and battery in Florida?

Many people are unclear of the difference between assault and battery, two criminal offenses often heard together. While both crimes constitute misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the details, assault and battery are separate and distinct offenses in Florida, handled and punished differently.

If you or your loved one has recently been arrested for assault and/or battery, call the assault and battery defense lawyers in St. Petersburg at Goldman Wetzel. We will explain what the charges entail, talk to prosecutors about your case, and try to step in early enough to help you either avoid formal charges altogether, plea bargain, or pursue reduced penalties. Call 727-828-3900 for immediate assistance.

Assault vs. Battery: Case Details Affect Charges and Penalties

The primary difference between assault and battery is physical contact, a sometimes-blurry line we will evaluate as we look into the charges brought against you.

Assault occurs when someone threatens another with harm, but does not actually make physical contact. Battery, on the other hand, occurs when a person makes physical contact with another without consent and causes harm.

 

  Assault Battery
Statute Florida Statute § 784.011 Florida Statute § 784.03
Definition “An ‘assault’ is 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.” “The offense of battery occurs when a person: 1) Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or 2) Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.”

 

Example Peter abruptly stands up, gets in James’s face, raises his fist, and says, “I dare you to say that again.” James, afraid of being hit, backs down and leaves. Since there was only the threat of — not actual — violence, this is assault. After Peter stands up and threatens James, James punches Peter in the jaw. Because James touched and caused Peter physical harm, this is battery.

 

Penalties Second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. First-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine
Aggravated Charges Aggravated assault (FL Stat. § 784.021) is assault with deadly weapon but without intent to kill; or with intent to commit felony. Learn more about aggravated assault. Aggravated battery (FL Stat. 784.045) is battery while intentionally causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement; while using a deadly weapon; or against a pregnant woman who the defendant knew or should have known was pregnant. Learn more about aggravated battery.

 

Can I face both assault and battery charges?

You may be charged with either or both of these offenses, depending on the details of your case, which makes matters more confusing and may upgrade your penalties. Further, sometimes, the line between the two offenses can be difficult to identify. For instance, violently breaking a beer bottle on the bar and holding it menacingly while yelling at someone is assault, while spitting on someone (a seemingly less serious action) is battery, a more severe offense.

We know how frustrated and uncertain defendants facing assault and battery charges often feel. They may not believe their actions warrant charges in the first place, or might believe their actions warrant lesser charges. That is why we encourage people charged with assault and/or battery to contact us right away. If the state has not yet brought charges, we can argue for lesser charges or no charges at all. We work together on every case to pool our talents and resources to identify the best course of action to build your defense.

Facing assault or battery charges? Talk to Goldman Wetzel Today

Attorneys Summer Goldman and Maribeth Wetzel have worked on numerous assault and battery cases in Florida, and know how dreadful the thought of incarceration and a tainted criminal record can be. Rest assured, as soon as you put us on the case, we will see if there is any way to avoid formal charges, bargain with the prosecutor for a downgraded offense, or defend your case in court to reduce your chances of conviction and jail time.

Contact our office in St. Petersburg for the determined, effective legal defense you need. The initial consultation is free: 727-828-3900.

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