Your Guide to Understanding Florida Assault and Battery Crimes
You hear the phrase “assault and battery” tossed around often in conversation, on the news, and in film, to the point where you probably think the terms are interchangeable. While they are often discussed together, however, the Florida statute on assault, battery, and related offenses draws numerous distinctions. If you do not have a legal background, you may not appreciate the subtleties regarding assault and battery – as well as the aggravated and attempted versions of these crimes.
The underlying details will affect your case if you are facing charges, and they may also have an impact on sentencing if you are convicted. Therefore, it is essential to retain a Fort Lauderdale assault attorney for assistance with your case. Some general information may also be useful as an overview.
Assault and Battery: The key to understanding these two crimes is physical contact with the victim during commission of the crime. Specifically:
- Assault is an act or threat that instills a fear in the victim that physical harm is imminent. A prosecutor must prove that you intended the threat and had the ability to carry it out, leading to the victim’s fear. Note that physical contact is not an essential element of the crime.
- Battery involves physical contact, so the prosecution must prove that you intentionally struck or made contact with the victim without his or her consent. For simple battery, there is no need to show injury.
From these descriptions, you can see why assault and battery are often misconstrued to be the same crime. However, they are different – and it is possible to be charged for one and not the other. For instance, if you strike an unsuspecting victim who was never in fear of physical contact, you may face battery only.
Additional Factors on Assault and Battery: Under the umbrella of assault and battery, the Florida statute includes specific types of charges, including:
- Aggravated Assault: If the threat of violence comes through brandishing a deadly weapon, the crime goes from a Second Degree Misdemeanor to a Third Degree Felony. If convicted, you could be sentenced to a maximum of five years’ incarceration.
- Felony Battery: A battery offense could be elevated from a First Degree Misdemeanor to a Third Degree Felony if it causes great bodily harm or permanent disability.
- Aggravated Battery: When the physical contact element of the crime involves a deadly weapon, intentionally inflicting great bodily harm, or is against a pregnant person, the offense is a Second Degree Felony. Punishment may include up to 15 years in prison.
Trust a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer to Protect Your Interests
If you are facing assault and battery charges, or any of the related offenses mentioned above, retaining experienced legal counsel should be a priority. The right defense strategy could mean the difference between misdemeanor and felony charges – or between an acquittal or conviction. To learn how our team can help, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We can set up a consultation to review your circumstances and determine how to proceed with your case.