In Florida, assault and battery are two separate crimes, despite often being linked together. Both carry potentially serious penalties, including incarceration and fines. The difference is that assault refers to a threat that causes fear of harm, whereas battery is an unwanted touching or causing of physical harm.
An incident can be both assault and battery — a threat combined with unwanted contact — or just one of the two. Imagine a scenario in which someone is slapped from behind. If they didn’t see it coming, they weren’t fearful. In such a case, there would be a battery but no assault.
Both offenses may be charged in varying degrees. Ordinary assault is a second-degree misdemeanor, while aggravated assault — one that involves a deadly weapon — is a third-degree felony. If the deadly weapon is a firearm, then a distinct charge applies: aggravated assault with a firearm — a crime that carries a mandatory minimum three-year prison term.
Simple battery is a misdemeanor in Florida and carries a penalty of up to one year in jail or 12 months’ probation and a $1,000 fine. Aggravated battery requires the intent to do serious bodily harm or the use of a deadly weapon and carries a sentence of up to five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine.
If you’ve been charged with assault and/or battery, your best recourse is an experienced, skilled lawyer who will review the facts of your case and determine a defensive strategy. Potential defenses include showing that the incident was accidental or otherwise unintentional, that the alleged victim gave consent for physical contact or that the action was made in self-defense, in defense of someone else or of property.
Alan Fowler and his law firm, Key West Criminal Defense, have extensive experience successfully defending clients in assault and battery cases in Key West, the Florida Keys, and Monroe County, Florida. Call (305) 417-9378 or contact us online for a free consultation.