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.
Florida Assault & Battery FAQs
Every assault and battery case is different. The best source of information about the strength of the case against you, possible penalties, and defenses that may be available to you is a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney.
Below, we’ve provided general answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Florida assault and battery defense.
Can you fight an assault charge?
The short answer to this question is yes, every person charged with an assault, has the absolute right to fight the case against them should they wish to. Additionally in an assault case, as in any other Florida criminal case, the burden is on the prosecutor to prove all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. One of those elements is that the defendant’s actions created a “well-founded fear” that violence is imminent. But here in Florida, the element of what constitutes a “well-founded fear” is based on an objectively reasonable person standard, as opposed to merely being dependent on the subjective perception of an alleged victim. This distinction is critical when evaluating the merits of an assault case and in developing a viable theory of defense. Talking to a Jacksonville assault and battery attorney as soon as possible after an arrest can increase your chances of successfully fighting the charges.
Should I get a lawyer for an assault charge?
Any time you are facing criminal charges, it is to your advantage to speak with an experienced local criminal defense attorney. This is especially true when facing a charge like assault, since nuances in the law may make it difficult for someone inexperienced with the criminal justice system to fight the charges.
This is especially true if the charge is aggravated assault since aggravated assault is a felony carrying a possible sentence of up to five years in prison. It is also worth noting that convictions for some assault offenses may also result in disqualification for certain types of employment, and a similar phenomenon may be experienced with convictions for battery offenses.
What is the punishment for assault in Florida?
The consequences of an assault conviction vary depending on the type of assault. Simple assault is a misdemeanor in the second degree and carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail. If the charge is aggravated assault, the consequences are much more serious and may include a prison sentence of up to five years.
A Jacksonville assault lawyer can explain the factors that are typically considered in sentencing and how they are likely to impact the possible penalties in your case.
Is battery a felony in Florida?
In Florida, battery may be either a misdemeanor or a felony. Felony battery involves intentionally touching or striking another person against their will and causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. Domestic battery by strangulation and aggravated battery are also felonies. Further, any battery charge may be elevated to a felony if the defendant has a prior battery conviction.
Both felony battery and domestic battery by strangulation are third-degree felonies. Aggravated battery–which involves the use of a deadly weapon during a battery or knowingly or intentionally causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement–is a second-degree felony.
What is the penalty for battery in Florida?
The penalty for battery depends on the type of battery charge and other factors. For a first offense simple battery charge, the maximum sentence is up to one year in jail. For the offenses of either felony battery or domestic battery by strangulation, the maximum sentence is up to five years in the state prison. Finally, the offense of aggravated battery, as a second-degree felony, is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Should I get a lawyer for a battery charge in Florida?
Battery is a serious crime, even when charged as a misdemeanor. A battery conviction may have consequences beyond the direct criminal penalty, such as the loss of job opportunities, consequences for housing options, and it could also impact one’s ability to legally possess a firearm. Additionally, felony-level battery charges can result in years behind bars.
An experienced Jacksonville battery attorney can assess the strengths and weaknesses of the case against you, identify the best opportunities to fight the charges, and help determine the best way to proceed in your specific circumstances. Unfortunately, people inexperienced with criminal law and procedure often overlook possible defenses or miss opportunities because they are unaware of technical requirements. It’s in your best interest to talk with a lawyer as soon as possible.