Juvenile Assault & Battery Attorney in Jacksonville, FL
Assault and battery sounds serious, so you may not realize exactly what those charges take in. For example, a middle-schooler may face juvenile battery charge after getting into a fight with a friend on the playground–even if no one was hurt.
The consequences for juvenile assault or juvenile battery depend on a variety of factors, including the nature of the incident, whether a weapon was used, how seriously someone was injured, whether the accused minor has prior incidents of juvenile delinquency, the age of the accused, and more. But, it’s important to recognize that any act of juvenile delinquency or juvenile criminal charge can have serious consequences.
If your child has been accused of assault or battery, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Jacksonville juvenile lawyer as soon as possible.
Assault and Battery: What’s the Difference?
Though you’ve probably heard the phrase “assault and battery” used as if it were a single crime, assault and battery are actually two separate criminal offenses with unique elements. Depending on the circumstances, a juvenile may be charged with one of those offenses.
Assault in Florida
In Florida, “assault” doesn’t actually require physical contact at all. Instead, the crime of assault involves a threat. Specifically, a person commits the crime of assault in Florida if he or she:
- Intentionally threatens another person with violence,
- Has the apparent ability to follow through on the threat, and
- Takes some action that creates a “well founded” fear that violence is imminent
Battery in Florida
Unlike assault, battery requires physical contact. Specifically, the necessary elements to support a battery charge are:
- Intentionally touching or striking another person against that person’s will, or
- Intentionally causing bodily harm to another person
Note that the touching or striking needn’t involve body-to-body contact, such as a slap or punch. While hitting, kicking, and pushing are common types of battery, a person can also commit battery by throwing an object at another person and striking them, or even by spitting on them.
How Serious are Juvenile Assault and Battery Charges?
The elements set forth above support the lowest-level assault and battery charges, often described as simple assault and simple battery. Both crimes are misdemeanors in Florida, though battery is more serious than assault and carries more serious possible penalties.
However, there are a variety of other assault and battery crimes that may result in felony charges. Even for a minor, these acts can have much more serious consequences. So, for example, a juvenile assault charge involving a stand-off in the cafeteria may have less serious consequences than juvenile charges for assault involving a weapon.
Take Juvenile Assault and Battery Charges Seriously
There’s a tendency to take juvenile charges less seriously than adult criminal charges, for a few reasons. That playground fight or threat made to a friend in anger may not seem serious enough to warrant any significant penalties. Many people mistakenly assume that juvenile records are automatically expunged when the person who was adjudicated delinquent reaches the age of 18. And, many believe that only the oldest juveniles who have been accused of the most serious crimes are tried in adult court.
When your child’s future is at stake, you can’t afford to make assumptions.
Across the country, nearly 50,000 juveniles are detained away from home as a result of juvenile delinquency proceedings or adult criminal cases. These juveniles are detained in different types of facilities, ranging from detention centers and adult jails to group homes and residential treatment centers. In each setting, the number one reason minors are being held in these facilities is “crimes against a person”–crimes like assault and battery. More than 12,000 minors are in long-term secure facilities or juvenile detention centers because of these types of offenses.
Adult Jails and Prisons
During the 2019-2020 fiscal year, 143 minors in Florida were transferred into the adult criminal justice system to face aggravated assault or aggravated battery charges. Those cases account for more than 14% of the juvenile charges transferred to adult court in Florida that year. A juvenile who is convicted as an adult may face a jail or prison sentence in an adult correctional facility.
How Common are Assault Charges for a Minor?
In one recent year, 9,664 Florida juveniles were charged with either assault or aggravated assault. More than 18% of those charges involved aggravated assault.
What Happens When a Juvenile is Charged with Assault or Battery?
The possible consequences of a juvenile battery charge or assault charge vary considerably. While that’s due in part to the same types of factors that impact the likely penalties for an adult crime, it’s also due in part to the many different paths the juvenile justice system can take.
For example, the prosecution in a juvenile delinquency proceeding has the option of “diverting” the minor into a program that may result in dismissal of the charges. In a diversion program, the juvenile will be required to do certain things, such as refraining from getting into any further trouble, perhaps undergoing counseling or doing community service, making restitution to victims if applicable, and possible other requirements.
While this is underway, the court will make no determination as to the merits of the case. If the juvenile successfully completes the diversion program, the case will be dismissed.
But, the consequences can be much more serious. The case may be scheduled for a juvenile trial–a process similar to an adult criminal trial, but without a jury–or the prosecutor may petition to transfer the case to adult court. A delinquency adjudication in the juvenile system may mean commitment to a juvenile detention center. If the case is transferred and the minor is convicted in adult court, he or she may face the same penalties as an adult convicted of the same crime.
Direct Filing in Adult Court
While the vast majority of juvenile cases are filed as delinquency petitions in the juvenile system, Florida prosecutors do have the discretion to file certain cases directly in criminal court. The prosecution may file adult charges against a child as young as 14, and may pursue adult charges against a child who is even younger through the grand jury process.
If Your Child Has Been Charged with Assault or Battery, Get Help
Juvenile charges can have serious and even lifelong consequences. That’s especially true with charges like assault and battery, since courts take crimes of violence very seriously and crimes against the person are the most common reason juveniles are detained. If your child is facing juvenile charges or is a minor who has been charged as an adult, it’s important that you have knowledgeable guidance and dedicated advocacy as early in the process as possible.
The juvenile justice system differs from the adult criminal courts system, which means not every Jacksonville criminal defense attorney has the knowledge and experience to skillfully navigate the juvenile justice system. So if you or one of your loved ones are facing a juvenile case don’t wait, reach out to the firm of Lufrano Legal, P.A. today.
The initial consultation is free, so take this opportunity to gather the information you need to make the best decisions for your child’s future. Just call 904-513-3905 to get started. Or, if you prefer, fill out the contact form on this site and we’ll reach out to schedule your free consultation.