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The Many Shades Of Assault And Battery In Florida

Frequently the crimes of assault and battery in Florida are discussed together like salt and pepper, peanut butter and jelly, Batman and Robin, et cetera. However, assault and battery are two separate crimes each with multiple levels of severity and different penalties for defendants who find themselves convicted of them. Here’s what you need to know about the various differences between assault and battery in Florida.

Basics

Florida law defines “assault” as the threat of harm that leads to fear of imminent harm in another. The defendant need not make actual physical contact with the victim. The defendant must only have said some word, made some gesture, or committed some act that placed the victim in actual fear of an imminent harm.

Meanwhile, Florida statute says that “battery” as

  • Actual, intentional touching or striking another person against his or her will, or
  • intentionally causing bodily harm to another.

In order to achieve a conviction for battery in Florida, the prosecutor must prove that the touching or striking was done without the victim’s intent and it was not done accidentally by the defendant.

Frequently assault and battery are charged together if the victim was aware of the harmful and unwanted contact, but assault does not necessarily follow battery in cases where the victim was not actually touched or if the victim was unaware of the imminent contact before it happened.

Assault

In Florida, an assault with no other aggravating factors is often called “simple assault” and is a second degree misdemeanor. A conviction on a charge of simple assault may result in a jail sentence of 60 days and a fine of up to $500.

If the assault is committed while possessing a deadly weapon without the intent to kill or with the intent to commit a felony, it is an aggravated assault. Conviction on aggravated assault charges is a third degree felony, which can lead to a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000.

Battery

Similar to assault, a battery with no aggravating factors is “simple battery,” which is a first degree misdemeanor. Simple battery carries with it a penalty of up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, if the defendant

  • Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disfigurement, or permanent disability or
  • uses a deadly weapon

the charge becomes an aggravated battery. Battery upon a pregnant woman is also aggravated battery, but only if the defendant knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant at the time of the battery.

Aggravated battery is a second degree felony and may lead to a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Felony battery is a third type of battery recognized in Florida. If a defendant actually and intentionally touches or strikes another against their will and causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement, the crime is a third degree felony, which may lead to a prison term of 5 years and a fine of up to $5,000.

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