Assault and Battery:
Assault and Battery are actually two distinct offenses,
they can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors. These offenses are found in Section 784 of the Florida Statutes.
An Assault is:
An intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.
The use of a weapon in conjunction with the Assault can enhance the charge to Aggravated Assault which is a felony offense.
A Battery occurs when a person:
1. Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or
2. Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.
If serious bodily injury occurs, a weapon is used, or the victim is pregnant the charge can be enhanced to Aggravated Battery which is a felony offense.
Domestic Violence is a specialized form of Assault or Battery, and may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The penalties are enhanced, and the consequences are far more serious.
Florida Law on Assault:
As defined in Fla. Stat. § 784.011, an individual can be charged with assault
in Florida if they satisfy each of the following elements:
They intentionally and unlawfully
Threaten another person
Through words or actions In order to cause that person harm, and
The other person is afraid the harm will immediately occur.
Additionally, the alleged offender must be able to or appear to be able to cause harm to the other person. This offense is generally punishable as a misdemeanor crime, and is also commonly known as simple assault or misdemeanor assault.
Florida Law on Aggravated Assault:
According to Fla. Stat. § 784.021, an individual can be charged with an aggravated assault offense if they commit a misdemeanor assault offense and:
Use a deadly weapon (without having the intent to kill the other person); or
Have the intent to commit a felony.
A felony offense for the purpose of aggravated assault can include a number of crimes, such as murder, homicide, violent crimes, domestic violence, aggravated stalking, aggravated battery, domestic battery by strangulation, and aggravated domestic battery or assault.
A conviction for a simple assault offense is a misdemeanor of the second degree,
which is punishable by a jail sentence of up to 60 days and/or a fine up to $500.
A conviction for an aggravated assault or an upgraded simple assault can result in a felony of the third degree,
which is punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years and/or a fine up to $5,000.
A conviction for an aggravated assault offense with an enhancement can result in a felony of the second degree,
which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000.
Enhanced Assault Offenses and Penalties:
If an assault offense is committed against certain individuals the Florida Statutes provide for enhanced assault charges under sections 784.07, 784.08, 784.081, 784.082 and 784.083. Therefore, if the assault offense was an aggravated assault, but committed against a law enforcement officer, the assault offense would be increased to a felony of the second degree instead of a felony of the third degree.
If an assault offense was committed against any of the following individuals, the alleged offender can be convicted of the next highest degree
of assault offense:
Any emergency medical care provider,
Any other public transit employee or their agents,
Any person aged 65 or older,
Any visitors or other detainees of a detention center or jail by a person detained,
Emergency medical technician (EMT),
Employees of certain governmental departments,
Law enforcement officer,
Sports official and/or Train operator.
Additionally, if the assault is committed against a law enforcement officer or a person over the age of 65, the alleged offender must serve a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of three years. If the offense is committed against a person over the age of 65, the alleged offender is also required to complete up to 500 hours of community service and make restitution to the alleged victim of the offense.
Florida Law on Battery:
As defined in Fla. Stat. § 784.03(1)(a), an individual can be charged with battery in Florida if they:
Actually and intentionally touch another person against their will, or
Intentionally cause another person bodily harm.
Florida Law on Felony Battery:
An individual can be charged with felony battery in Florida if they have one prior battery, aggravated battery or felony battery conviction.
Additionally, an individual can be charged with felony battery if they actually and intentionally touch or strike another person against their will and cause great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement.
Fla. Stat. § 316.1933(1)(b) defines great or serious bodily harm as any injury to a person that:
Creates a substantial risk of death,
Causes serious disfigurement, or
Results in impairment or the loss of any limb or bodily organ.
Florida Law on Aggravated Battery:
According to Fla. Stat. § 784.045(1), an individual can be charged with aggravated battery if they intentionally or knowingly:
Cause great bodily harm, or permanent disability or disfigurement;
Use a deadly weapon during the commission of the offense; or
Commit a battery against a woman the alleged offender knew or had reason to know was pregnant at the time of the offense.
The suggested statutory punishments for battery and aggravated battery offenses can increase depending on a variety of factors,
including whether the alleged offender has a previous battery conviction or criminal history, whether a deadly weapon was present or used during the commission of the offense, whether the victim falls into a certain class of people, and/or the degree of injury that resulted from the offense.
A conviction for a simple battery offense can result in a misdemeanor of the first degree,
which is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine not more than $1,000.
A conviction for a second or subsequent battery offense or a felony battery offense can result in a felony of the third degree,
which is punishable by a prison sentence up to five years and/or a fine up to $5,000.
A conviction for an aggravated battery offense can result in a felony of the second degree,
which is punishable by a prison sentence up to 15 years and/or a fine up to $10,000.
Enhanced Penalties for Certain Battery Charges:
According to Fla. Stat. § 784.07, .075, .076, .078, .08, .081, .082, .083 and .085, if the battery offense is allegedly committed against certain classes of individuals, the battery charges can be enhanced to the next degree of battery offense. For example, if an individual commits a misdemeanor of the first degree battery offense against any of the individuals listed below, their charges can be increased to a felony of the third degree battery offense. These classes of individuals can include:
Law enforcement officers,
Public transit operators and employees,
Health service personnel,
Emergency medical services personnel,
Individuals who are 65 or older.
Issues / Potential Defenses:
Although a battery or aggravated battery conviction in Florida can result in serious punishments and consequences, the prosecutor must first prove the alleged offender committed every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a very high burden of proof and can be difficult to meet, as there can be a variety of defenses or mitigating factors that may create doubt in the prosecution’s case.
A few of these defenses and factors may include:
Defense of Others;
Defense of Property;
Insufficient Evidence to Prove the Criminal Charges;
Lack of Knowledge or Intent to Commit the Alleged Offense;
Mistaken Identity; and/or
Self Defense/ Stand Your Ground immunity.
If you have been accused of committing battery or aggravated battery throughout the Pensacola area of Florida, it is important to hire an experienced assault and battery lawyer who will make every effort to create the best legal strategy to refute the allegations against you. Call Chris today!
Freedom is a priority
Call us at 850-437-9410 or contact us online now!