Jacksonville Assault & Battery Defense Attorney
While people often use the terms assault and battery interchangeably in Florida, assault and battery are separate crimes. Additionally, In their most basic forms both assault and battery are misdemeanor offenses. However, here in Florida both assault and battery can also be charged as felonies if there are aggravating circumstances. Such circumstances can include the use of a weapon during the offense, if the alleged victim was a member of law enforcement or a medical personnel, or a variety of other factors. As such every assault and battery case is highly fact specific.
Moreover, it’s imperative that anyone charged with an assault or battery in Florida understand the charges against them, the strength of their case against, the possible consequences, and their options. Further the best way to obtain reliable insight into such a charge including the potential penalties and the indirect consequences of a conviction is to reach out to an experienced criminal defense firm, like Lufrano Legal, P.A.
So if you or a loved one has been charged with assault or battery in Florida, don’t delay and reach out to an experienced Jacksonville defense attorney today.
Assault v Battery – What’s the Difference?
When most people hear “assault,” they think of a physical encounter. In many states, including Florida, assault actually refers to a threat. A person can be guilty of assault without having made any physical contact with the victim. Battery in Florida, on the other hand, involves touching or striking the other person or intentionally causing bodily harm.
Florida Assault Charges
A person may be convicted of assault in Florida if he or she:
- Makes an intentional threat to do violence to another,
- The person has the apparent ability to follow through on the threat, and
- Takes some action that creates a “well-founded” fear that violence is imminent
There’s no list of specific acts that are sufficient to create a well-founded fear. Sitting still, possessing no weapons, and being at a significant distance from another person while uttering a threat to them would clearly be insufficient. Additionally, the threat required for an assault has to be one of violence, but it can be conveyed by either words or actions. As such making a threatening move like pointing a weapon at the victim will generally suffice. Whether or not something simple like advancing on the alleged victim is sufficient to create well-founded fear may depend on other factors.
Penalties for Assault in Florida
In Florida Simple Assault is a second degree misdemeanor. That means the maximum jail sentence for a person convicted of this offense is 60 days in the county jail. That said an experienced criminal defense firm, like Lufrano Legal, P.A., can review the facts in your case and advise you about the presence of potential weaknesses in the case and counsel you regarding the best options for resolving your case. In some instances an experienced assault attorney may be able to negotiate for no jail time at all, or may be able to arrange for a pre-trial diversion that will avoid a criminal conviction altogether if you successfully fulfill its terms. Or if you are interested in contesting the allegations against you then an experienced assault attorney can assist you in combating the case at a trial.
Aggravated Assault in Florida
While simple assault is a misdemeanor in Florida, aggravated assault is a third degree felony. Aggravated assault occurs when an assault is committed:
- With a deadly weapon (but without intent to kill), or
- With the intent to commit a felony upon the victim
Penalties for Aggravated Assault
Aggravated assault is a much more serious crime than assault. As a third degree felony, the crime carries a possible sentence of up to five years in prison. If you have been charged with aggravated assault, you should speak with an experienced assault lawyer as soon as possible.
Florida Battery Charges
Battery occurs in two ways in Florida:
- Intentionally touching or striking another person against that person’s will, or
- Intentionally causing bodily harm to another person
This definition is broader than what most people think of as “battery.” For example, many types of unwanted touching can support a battery charge. In some cases, the touch need not even be directly to the person. For example, knocking an object like a book out of the hands of another person would meet the statutory definition of a battery here in Florida.
Similarly, it isn’t necessary that the accused makes physical contact with the other person with his or her body. Striking someone with an object suffices, for instance–even an object that is thrown from a distance.
Penalties for Battery
Battery is a first degree misdemeanor, meaning that it is a more serious crime than simple assault. The possible sentence for a first degree misdemeanor in Florida is up to one year in the county jail. However, if a person has a prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery, or felony battery, then any subsequent battery offense may be charged as a third degree felony. A third degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison.
In Florida, felony battery occurs when:
- A person intentionally touches or strikes another person against the other’s will, and
- Causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement
Note that unlike simple battery, both elements are required to support a conviction for felony battery.
Penalties for Felony Battery
Felony battery is a third degree felony in Florida. Like aggravated assault, or subsequent batteries charged as a felony, felony battery carries a possible five-year prison sentence.
Domestic Battery by Strangulation
A person commits domestic battery by strangulation in Florida if he or she:
- Knowingly and intentionally impedes the breathing or blood circulation of another person against the other’s will, and
- Creates a risk of great bodily harm or causes great bodily harm, and
- The victim is a family member, household member, or dating partner.
Penalties for Domestic Battery by Strangulation
Like felony battery, domestic battery by strangulation is a third degree felony, carrying a possible sentence of up to five years in prison.
Aggravated Battery in Florida
A person may be convicted of aggravated battery in Florida if the prosecution demonstrates that he or she has, in the commission of a battery:
- Intentionally or knowingly caused great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement, or
- Uses a deadly weapon
A battery is also classified as aggravated if while committing a simple battery, the victim was pregnant and the accused knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant.
Penalties for Aggravated Battery
Aggravated battery is a second degree felony. A second degree felony in Florida carries a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years.
A Note about Special Victims
In certain situations, battery crimes may be upgraded to more serious classifications based on the status of the alleged victim and the circumstances under which the crime occurred. For example, assault or battery may be charged as a felony if the crime was committed against a law enforcement officer, railroad special officer, traffic accident investigation officer, firefighter, or emergency medical care provider.
The difference in consequences can be significant. For instance, a battery is generally a first degree misdemeanor carrying a possible penalty of up to one year in jail. When that crime is committed against one of the public servants listed above, it becomes a third degree felony. That means a possible 5-year prison sentence.
This enhancement applies in other situations as well, including some assaults and batteries occurring in correctional facilities or institutional settings and crimes involving a victim who is a senior citizen.
Talk to a Jacksonville Assault and Battery Lawyer
Assault and battery convictions can carry serious consequences, and those consequences often go beyond a jail or prison sentence. This type of conviction can have an impact on other areas of your life, including employment potential.
If you’ve been charged with assault or battery in Florida, it’s in your best interest to get knowledgeable guidance right away. At Lufrano Legal, P.A., our assault and battery lawyer is committed to helping people who have been charged with crimes. We’ll take the best approach for you, whether that means negotiating for a diversion or plea agreement, making motions to suppress evidence, or fighting the charges in court.