Vero Beach Assault and Battery Attorney
Although the terms “assault” and “battery” are often use interchangeably to describe any number of violent crimes, these terms have two distinct definitions under Florida law.
Assault can be basically defined as a threat to do bodily harm upon another person. It can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the nature of the threat involved. The crime of assault can be broken down into two categories:
- Misdemeanor Assault (a.k.a. “Simple” Assault)
- Aggravated Assault
Battery is defined as touching or striking another person against their will. Like assault, it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances involved. Different types of battery include:
- Misdemeanor Battery (a.k.a. “Simple” Battery)
- Felony Battery
- Aggravated Battery
Being charged with these types of violent crimes is a serious matter. Aside from the possibility of penalties such as jail time, probation, required counseling, fines, and the payment of restitution, these types of charges carry a social stigma that create special difficulties for those who carry such charges on a criminal record.
Due to the nature of assault and battery charges, they are highly defendable. An experienced attorney can help protect the interests of the accused. Jesse H. Larsen has help hundreds of people facing assault and battery charges with excellent results. Contact him today for a consultation.
Under Florida Law, a misdemeanor battery occurs when one person intentionally touches or strikes another person without their consent. Surprisingly, there is no requirement that the touch or strike cause physical injury. The alleged victim need only provide testimony that they were touched by someone else against their will. As such, arrests for battery can be made in a variety of situations ranging from simple horseplay, to dangerous brawls.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Battery
Despite the relatively low standard by which it can be judged that someone committed an act of battery, the potential punishment is rather severe. The type of battery described above, and legally defined in Florida Statute 784.03(1)(a), is punishable as a first degree misdemeanor. The maximum possible penalty includes one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. If a battery is found to be an act of domestic violence, there is a minimum mandatory punishment of 1 year probation and completion of a 29 week long “batterers’ intervention program” required by Florida Statute 741.325. If an act of domestic violence results in bodily harm, upon conviction the court must order a minimum of 5 days in jail.
A charge of battery that may otherwise be classified as a misdemeanor may be enhanced to a felony depending on the facts of the case. Factors to consider include the injuries suffered by the alleged victim, the identity of the alleged victim, and the alleged perpetrator’s past criminal history.
Great Bodily Harm
A person commits a felony battery if he or she intentionally touches or strikes another person against their will and causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. To prove this charge, a prosecutor does not have to show that the perpetrator meant to cause serious harm, only that serious harm actually occurred.
Victim Based Enhancements
Even in the absence of serious harm, if a misdemeanor battery is committed against a child, person over 65, law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical care provider, sports official (including referees, umpires, and linesman), and certain government employees, it may be enhanced to a felony.
Second or Subsequent Offenses
Pursuant to Florida Statute 784.03(2), if a person with a prior charge of battery, aggravated battery, or felony battery on their criminal record commits an act of misdemeanor battery, they can be charged with a 3rd degree felony instead.
Penalties for Felony Battery
Felony battery is classified as a third degree felony. Upon conviction, a defendant may be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison and assessed a maximum fine of $5,000. Additional penalties may include probation, the payment of restitution, community service, substance abuse evaluations, and psychological evaluations.
Florida Statute 784.045 provides the “aggravating factors” by which touching or striking another person against their will can be charged as a second degree felony. They are all based on the actions and knowledge of the accused at the time of the crime. An aggravated battery occurs when the accused:
- Intentionally causes great bodily harm,
- Uses a deadly weapon, or
- Knew, or should have known, the victim was pregnant.
Penalties for Aggravated Battery
Aggravated battery is classified as a second degree felony. Upon conviction, a defendant may be sentenced to a maximum of fifteen years in prison and assessed a maximum fine of $10,000. Additional penalties may include probation, the payment of restitution, community service, substance abuse evaluations, and psychological evaluations.