In the state of Florida, a person is often charged with assault and battery at the same time, making it appear as though they are the same offense. However, assault and battery are two very different crimes, with completely different consequences.
Essentially, the crime of battery involves causing bodily harm to another while the crime of assault does not cause bodily harm. These are very specific crimes that can result in different fines and penalties.
There are varying degrees of assault and battery. Florida Statute 784.011 establishes specific offenses for simple assault and aggravated assault. Florida Statute 784.03 covers battery or aggravated battery.
What the Courts Consider Assault
Assault is the lesser of the two charges and is considered an unlawful and intentional threat to commit violence to a person. The person making the threat can communicate it via word or action. In the state of Florida, a person cannot be charged with assault unless they seem physically able to carry out their threat of physical harm. The victim must also have been fearful of the threat to be charged with assault.
What Qualifies as Aggravated Assault?
While assault is a misdemeanor charge, it can quickly turn into a felony. A misdemeanor assault becomes a felony assault, or aggravated assault, when the threat of violence includes the use of a deadly weapon without the intent to kill. If the threat of violence includes intent to kill or leads to physical interaction, then more serious charges are often filed.
Battery vs. Aggravated Battery
Battery occurs when one person intentionally touches, strikes or causes bodily harm to another person. Even simply pushing another person can land you with a battery charge. However, without physical contact, there can be no battery charges. So if you swing and miss at a person, this would simply be a charge of assault.
Aggravated battery occurs in Florida when battery leads to great bodily harm, a deadly weapon is used, or if the offender knew the victim was pregnant. Aggravated battery is the most serious of assault and battery charges and is considered a felony of the second degree.
Sentences and Penalties
An assault conviction is a second-degree misdemeanor and could include up to sixty days in jail and given a fine of no more than $500. Aggravated assault is a third-degree misdemeanor that can result in jail for up to five years and up to a $5,000 fine.
A battery conviction can include jail for up to one year and a fine of no more than $1,000. Aggravated battery is a second-degree felony that can result in a fifteen-year sentence and a fine of no more than $10,000.
Contact Proly, Laporte & Mulligan P.A for Legal Advice
If you or a loved one has been arrested for assault or battery, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Proly, Laporte & Mulligan P.A. Simply call us for assistance, or contact us online.