Assault & Battery Offenses
Defining the Difference Between the Two
Assault and Battery are actually two separate charges that are often charged as one offense. They have very different meanings, and can be prosecuted for different committed acts. Florida law explains that assault can be defined as an intentional threat to commit an act of violence—enough so that the person feels like they are in danger. Battery can be defined as the intentional, but unlawful, touching of someone else. This could include causing physical harm—hitting, punching, slapping—or carrying out unwanted sexual advances, like groping.
They are different in that the actual circumstances of an altercation can lead to one type of charge over the other. If a person threatened to hurt another person, and didn't—even though they intended to— they may still be charged with assault. Battery charged can only be waged in the event that unlawful physical contact took place. The types of assault and battery charges that can be prosecuted include:
- Assault/Aggravated Assault
- Sexual Assault
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon
- Battery/Aggravated Battery
- Sexual Battery
- Battery Causing Great Bodily Harm
Aggravated Assault and Battery Circumstances
Simple assault and battery may be charged as a misdemeanor. However, aggravated circumstances can result in a felony charge. For instance, Florida Statute § 784.021 states that any individual who commits assault with a deadly weapon with the intention to commit a felony and the intention to kill someone may be found guilty of "aggravated assault." Aggravated assault is a third degree felony. While battery occurs when one person strikes another, felony battery occurs when an individual with prior battery convictions commits the same crime. Florida Statute §784.041 states that an individual commits felony battery when he/she strikes another person and causes significant bodily harm. For instance, battery that leaves the victim with a serious or permanent disability may be charged as felony battery. If the victim is left with a permanent disfigurement, the suspect may be charged with felony battery instead of simple battery.
Domestic battery by strangulation is a separate offense but closely related to felony battery. This crime involves specific circumstances. In order to be convicted of domestic battery by strangulation, the suspect must intentionally inhibit someone else's ability to breathe by applying pressure to the victim's throat or neck. The victim must be a member of the suspect's household, a relative or a dating partner. The suspect may be charged with domestic battery by strangulation if he/she covers the victim's mouth or blocks his/her ability to breathe by covering the victim's nose. Both of these crimes are considered third degree felonies. By definition of the law, dating partners are involved in a continual romantic or intimate relationship. A family or household member can refer to a spouse, former spouse or roommate. Generally speaking, members of the same household must be currently living together or have lived together in the past.
Penalties of a Conviction
The penalties of either an assault or battery charge depends on the type of offense that was committed. If someone was severely hurt in the altercation, this will likely be taken into account, as well. Some of the penalties in Florida include:
- Assault (second degree misdemeanor): 60 days in jail & $500 fine
- Battery (first degree misdemeanor): 1 year in jail and $1,000 fine
- Second Battery Offense (third degree felony): 5 years in jail and $5,000 fine
- Aggravated Assault (third degree felony): 5 years in jail and $5,000 fine
- Aggravated Battery (second degree felony): 15 years in jail and $10,000 fine
There are also miscellaneous circumstances that could lead to harsher punishment. Florida Code §784.04 states that "A person who is convicted of an aggravated assault or aggravated battery upon a person 65 years of age of older shall be sentenced to a minimum term of imprisonment of 3 years and fined not more than $10,000…and to perform up to 500 hours of community service work." For more information on Florida statutes, contact us today.