An Overview of Florida Assault and Battery Charges
Assault and battery, although often linked together, are separate crimes in Florida, even though the phrase is often used to represent a singular event. At common law, an assault is either a failed attempt to strike a person or a threat to commit imminent bodily harm, coupled with an objective manifestation of the intent, such as a person balling up his fist while communicating a verbal threat. The crime of battery is different. A battery is an unlawful touching, however slight, that is harmful or offensive to the victim. A battery could be a punch in the nose, or it could be knocking a serving tray out of a waiter’s arms. The act of battery does not have to inflict an injury to be a crime.
Assault and battery are violent crimes that arise in various circumstances. Assault and battery could be a crime of domestic violence, which would subject the offender to enhanced penalties. Assault and battery might also arise in barrooms fights, road rage incidents, police encounters, and many other scenarios. The best defense against assault and battery charges will be dictated by the circumstances of the incident as well as an understanding of the victim and accused.
Musca Law’s assault and battery defense attorneys aggressively defend their clients who face assault or battery charges. An aggressive defense can provide the advantage you need to defend against Florida assault and battery charges successfully. Our Florida assault and battery defense lawyers battle hard in the courtroom against prosecutors whose sole mission is to secure a conviction instead of making sure justice was done.
Suffering a conviction for assault and battery could be a life-altering event. A person facing assault and battery charges could receive a long jail sentence, be forced to comply with strict probation requirements, and pay a large fine. Additionally, a conviction for assault and battery has possible collateral consequences because the crimes are defined as violent crimes. Convictions for violent crimes carry potential adverse immigration consequences and could be used toward a sentencing enhancement at a later time. Violent crimes could interrupt your child custody or prevent you from owning a firearm. Having Musca Law’s Florida assault and battery lawyers by your side could plot a successful defense that preserves your freedom and ensures that the assault and battery charges are not used as a sentencing enhancement at a later time.
Florida Assault Charges
Section 784.011 of the Florida Statutes describes the crime of assault consistently with the English common law meaning. Under Florida law, an assault is committed when a person intentionally and unlawfully threatens by either word, actions, or both, an act of violence to another person while having the immediate ability to do so. Additionally, the victim must be placed in fear that an attack is imminent. The crime of assault in Florida is punishable as a second-degree misdemeanor. A conviction for a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida carries the possibility of a jail sentence of up to sixty days, along with a fine of $500.00. The judge could impose probation as well and order the offender to comply with counseling such as anger management, as well as order the offender to stay and from the victim and have no contact with the victim.
As with any crime of violence in Florida, the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident could escalate the charge of simple assault into aggravated assault or another violent crime.
Aggravated assault is an assault committed by threatening another or brandishing a deadly weapon when the person has no intent to kill or to commit another felony. There is no requirement that the prosecution proves an intent to injure on behalf of the accused to convict the accused under Florida Statutes §784.021. Instead, the prosecution is only obligated to prove that the victim was in fear of an imminent attack. The maximum penalty in Florida for a conviction of aggravated assault is a five-year state prison sentence for a third-degree felony.
The crime of assault can carry a stiffer sentence depending on the victim. An assault committed against a police officer, firefighter, school employee, sports official during or after an event, elected officials, security officers, parking attendants, and public transportation employees, among others, is a first-degree misdemeanor. The maximum jail sentence for a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida is one-year in jail.
Battery Under Florida Law
Florida Statutes §784.03 defines battery as an intentional striking of another person by touching or hitting against the victim’s willfully or intentionally inflicts bodily harm upon the victim. A simple battery is a first-degree misdemeanor. However, Florida law allows the prosecution to seek enhanced penalties that increase the severity of the crime to a third-degree felony in certain circumstances.
Previous convictions for battery increase the maximum penalty the accused faces. The previous conviction could be as part of a plea deal or after trial, as long as a judgment of conviction entered against the accused for a battery, then the offense becomes a third-degree felony, which could incarcerate the offender for no more than five years.
Aggravated battery under §784.045 of the Florida Statutes is a battery committed when the assailant inflicts permanent injury, disfigurement, or causes substantial bodily harm to the victim, uses a deadly weapon, or knew or at least should have known the victim was pregnant at the time the battery occurred. Aggravated battery is a second-degree felony. Second-degree felony offenses in Florida are punishable by an incarcerated sentence of up to fifteen years.
Defenses to Assault and Battery Offenses
Self-defense is available to use as a defense to assault and battery charges in Florida. Defending oneself or another is permissible when the person believes he or she is in fear of imminent bodily harm from a physical attack. At that point, the individual does not need to wait to get hit first and then hit back. Trying to escape is the best option if you can.
Mutual combat is another common defense. Mutual combat occurs when two people essentially “square off” to fight. Mutual combat is not consent, but the defense indicates to the jury that both parties equally engaged, and neither was the aggressor. Mutual combat is not an affirmative defense like self-defense.
Musca Law - Experienced Assault and Battery Defense
Trying to defend against an assault or battery charge without a reputable and highly experienced Florida assault and battery defense lawyer be a dangerous strategy. Instead, choose the Florida criminal defense law firm with over 150 years of collection experience fighting for justice. Call Musca Law today at 888-484-5057 to schedule an appointment.