Assault and battery are actually two separate charges or crimes in Florida. Simply put assault is the threat to do bodily harm including deadly harm and battery is the physical act of doing that harm. Threats to harm someone is an assault. If you threaten to use a deadly weapon while making your threat or display a deadly weapon in a manner that is meant to cause fear of death or severe bodily injury in your victim, this is assault.
Battery is the act of causing harm through physical contact. Say you threaten to punch someone, that is assault. If you then actually punch the person, that is the battery. Another example is if you threaten someone by showing your gun, then shoot the person that is assault and battery.
In other words, it’s possible to commit an assault without battery, or the other way around.
Florida law currently classifies assault as having occurred when a person makes an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another. To fully qualify as an assault by Florida standards, the threat has to include the perception that the person making the threat is capable of following through on the threat and could do so at any moment.
It should be noted here the assault could occur even if the person making the threat does not have a weapon or object in their hands at the time of the threat. If they have a deadly weapon such as a gun or knife, they could be charged with aggravated assault.
The key factor in determining an assault charge rests with the perceived intent of the speaker. If the person being threatened has a reasonable fear of violence, the act could qualify as assault.
Battery occurs when a person willfully causes harm or damage to another person or purposefully hits them.
Like assault, the defining factor in how to determine battery can rest with the intent of the person doing the actual battering. Most people would not willfully consent to have another person put their hands on them in a violent fashion. If the intent was to hurt or kill the other person, that is battery.
Quick example: Hitting someone because they stole your parking space? Battery. Accidentally stepping on their foot while waiting in line at a coffee shop? Not battery.
- Simple Assault
Currently classified by Florida law as a second-degree misdemeanor, with potential punishments of 60 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $500.
- Aggravated Assault
This level of the offense occurs when the person committing the assault has a deadly weapon in their hands at the time of the violation. Even if the person has no intention of actually using the weapon (i.e. holding it to get the victim’s attention), the charge of aggravated assault would apply with consequences of five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Misdemeanor battery or simple battery is the striking of someone without their consent. It can result in a maximum fine of $5,000 and five years of jail time.
- Aggravated Battery
Aggravated Battery is the intentional contact on another person with the intent to inflict great bodily harm or death or to use a deadly weapon to do so. This can result in minimum penalties of 15 years jail time and up to $15,000 in fines.
The courts will also consider the specific details of the charge in question for each unique situation in metering out punishment. Assault and battery against a pregnant woman could result in harsher punishment versus a man being charged for striking an equal sized man in a bar fight.
For example using a car as your deadly weapon and striking a person is bad but striking a police officer with your car can often result in a harsher sentence.
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Assault and battery charges can be misdemeanors or felonies. When compounded with any additional charges such as robbery or kidnapping, the person charged could be facing years of jail time. Any assault or assault and battery charges are significant and you will want a top criminal defense lawyer on your side. West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers of Farkas and Crowley have the legal skills and experience you will need.