Florida Assault & Battery Laws: Charges & Penalties
While assault and battery are often discussed together, they are separate crimes under Florida laws.
What Is an Assault?
Assault, often called “simple assault,” is intentionally threatening a person with physical harm and making them reasonably believe you could harm them. Assault does not require that any physical violence actually occur.
The elements of an assault are the following:
- There was a physical or verbal action.
- There was an unlawful or intentional threat.
- That threat promoted fear of harm in the victim.
- The offender actually can harm the victim.
The increased charge of aggravated assault requires using a deadly weapon or intention to commit a felony.
What Is a Battery?
Battery involves intentionally striking or touching a person without consent or intentionally causing them harm. Battery does require that actual physical contact was made between the alleged offender and the alleged victim.
The elements of a battery include:
- There must be intent to cause harm.
- There must be a harmful or offensive act and physical contact.
- There must have been a lack of consent.
Aggravated battery is using a deadly weapon or intentionally touching someone and intending to cause physical harm.
Felony battery involves someone intentionally touching or striking another person without consent, resulting in severe bodily harm, or the act is carried out after a prior battery conviction.
Domestic battery involves the same elements as a battery but occurs upon a family or household member.
Penalties for Assault and Battery in Florida
The penalties you will face for assault and battery depend on the type of assault or battery that occurred and any aggravating or mitigating factors.
A simple assault may be a misdemeanor crime, punishable by less than one year in jail and a small fine. However, if you are charged with aggravated assault, you are facing a felony that could land you in prison for years along with several thousand dollars in fines.
Simple battery is also a misdemeanor charge; however, it can still land you in jail with a fine. Other battery charges, including domestic battery, are felonies, and you will face time in prison along with significant fines.
Florida Assault & Battery: Aggravating Factors
Aggravating factors in assault and battery cases are those that make the crime more severe and can lead to a harsher punishment. In general, aggravating factors increase the harm caused to the alleged victim, the alleged offender’s culpability, or the public safety risk.
Some common aggravating factors in assault and battery cases include:
- Serious Bodily Injury: If the alleged victim suffers serious bodily injury, such as broken bones, loss of consciousness, or disfigurement, this is considered an aggravating factor.
- Use of a Deadly Weapon: This involves using a weapon, such as a knife or gun, to commit the assault or battery.
- Premeditation: If you planned the assault or battery in advance, this is considered an aggravating factor.
- Gang Participation: You could face increased penalties if you belonged to a gang when committing the offense.
- Victim Vulnerability: This involves particularly vulnerable victims, such as children, elderly persons, or those with disabilities.
- Bias Motive: If you were motivated by bias against the victim’s race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristic, this is considered an aggravating factor.
In addition to these general aggravating factors, there may be specific aggravating factors that apply to certain types of assault and battery cases. For example, in a domestic violence case, an aggravating factor might be if the offender had a prior history of domestic violence or if the assault or battery occurred in the presence of a child.