Many people use the terms “assault” and “battery” interchangeably, but they are actually two different crimes in the state of Florida. If you are charged with either assault or battery in Florida, it’s important to know the difference between these crimes so you understand the charges you are facing.
People who are accused of committing assault and battery often want to know whether they are facing felony or misdemeanor charges. There are several different types of assault and battery charges in Florida, so the answer to this question will depend on the nature of your charges.
It’s best to ask a Tampa criminal defense attorney to review your case, explain your charges, and help you understand your legal options. But for now, here is what you need to know about assault and battery charges in Florida:
How Does the Law Define Assault in Florida?
People often associate assault with physical violence that injures someone. But in Florida, assault occurs when you intentionally threaten someone with words or actions that make them believe they are in imminent danger.
To put it simply, this means you can be charged with assault for simply threatening someone. It doesn’t matter whether or not you followed through with the threat—no physical contact is required.
Assault is a misdemeanor of the second degree, which carries up to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500.
What is Aggravated Assault?
Misdemeanor assault is often referred to as “simple assault.” This is different from aggravated assault, which is when you commit assault with a deadly weapon or with an intent to commit a felony crime. Aggravated assault is a felony of the third degree in Florida. If you are convicted of this crime, you can face up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
How Does the Law Define Battery?
There are several different types of battery crimes, including “simple battery.”
Battery is defined as the act of:
- Intentionally touching or striking another person, or
- Intentionally harming another person.
So whereas assault involves simply threatening another person, battery involves making physical contact with another person.
This crime is typically a misdemeanor of the first degree, which carries up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines. However, battery is only a misdemeanor for first-time offenders. If you have been convicted of battery, felony battery, or aggravated battery in the past, you will face third degree felony charges if you are accused of committing battery again in the future.
What is Felony Battery?
The second type of battery crime is felony battery. You can face charges for felony battery if you are accused of:
- Intentionally touching or striking another person, and
- Causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.
Felony battery victims suffer far more serious injuries than simple battery victims, which is why the penalties are more severe for felony battery offenders. If you are accused of committing felony battery, you will face felony of the third degree charges. If convicted, the judge may sentence you to up to five years in prison and order you to pay up to $5,000 in fines.
What is Domestic Battery By Strangulation?
Domestic battery by strangulation is another type of battery crime in Florida. You can face domestic battery by strangulation charges if you intentionally strangle or block the nose or mouth of a family or household member in an effort to interfere with their breathing. A “family or household member” may include:
- Former spouse
- Family member (related by blood or marriage)
- Someone who lives in your house with you
- Someone who you used to live with
- Your child’s other parent
- Your boyfriend, girlfriend, or romantic partner
Domestic battery by strangulation is a felony of the third degree crime. You can face the same penalties you would face for a felony battery conviction, which include up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.
What is Aggravated Battery?
The fourth and final type of battery crime is aggravated battery. In Florida, you can face aggravated battery charges if you:
- Intentionally cause great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement while committing battery, or
- Use a deadly weapon while committing battery.
You can also face aggravated battery charges if the victim was pregnant at the time you committed battery. This is true regardless of the severity of the victim’s injuries. However, the state must be able to prove that you knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant in order to charge you with aggravated battery rather than simple battery.
Aggravated battery is a felony of the second degree in the state of Florida. The penalties for this crime are serious. If you are convicted of a felony of the second degree, the court can sentence you to up to 15 years in prison. You may also be ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000.
Seek Legal Representation From A Criminal Defense Attorney Today
The penalties for any assault and battery conviction—even if it’s just a “simple” assault or battery—are serious. Being convicted of assault or battery could affect your family, career, finances, and reputation. This is true regardless of whether you are convicted of misdemeanor or felony assault or battery. That’s why it’s so important to aggressively fight your assault and battery charges with the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney in Tampa.
If you are being accused of committing assault and battery, it’s in your best interest to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett. There is far too much on the line to try to handle your criminal case on your own. Our attorneys know how much is at stake, which is why we will work tirelessly to reach the best possible outcome in your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.