Florida Statute 784.011 defines “Assault” as an intentional, unlawful threat to do a violent act or make unwanted physical contact on another person. The threat can be verbal or an action made by a person who clearly has the ability to do harm. If the action or threat makes the victim fearful for their safety, that is considered assault.
The time frame is also a factor here. For the term assault to apply, the victim must believe that their safety is at risk right away, and not in the next few minutes or a few days in the future.
If you have been charged with an assault, you need to contact us right now, our experienced lawyers in Lakeland, FL understand the ramifications of such charges and can advise you on the best defense strategy you can use.
The Law Differentiates between Assault and Battery
Although the terms “assault and “battery “are often used together, the law makes a clear distinction between the two offenses. The underlying factor is how the person was harmed during the incident. Using a weapon or inflicting a severe injury can determine whether the violent act was an assault or battery. The charges will also reflect a misdemeanor or felony crime.
Typically, an assault is considered a second-degree misdemeanor and carries a penalty as outlined by Florida statute 775.082 or s. 775.083. Depending on the specific situation, charges can also be a combination of assault and battery.
Criteria for an Assault Charge
When determining if an act is an assault, prosecutors must prove all of these criteria when filing proof of charges:
- Act or conduct intended to create fear – In an act of assault, the offender must have had the intention to create fear using words or actions
- Reasonable apprehension – The victim needs to have a clear reason for believing that they could be harmed by the offender
- Imminent harm – The victim must perceive an immediate threat of harm from the offender
- Considered either harmful or offensive – The offender’s actions or words should involve a physical threat or offending behavior
Different Kinds of Assault and Their Penalties
When assault charges are being heard in a court of law, prosecutors and defense lawyers might get into the details of what actually transpired. Bar fights, mugging, and rape are discussed in detail to determine misdemeanor or felony. However, assault is typically categorized as simple or aggravated.
A simple assault is typically a physical attack on the victim without the use of weapons. Such attacks can result in minor injuries, but no significant injuries. A simple assault cannot include tooth loss, broken bones, internal injuries, or unconsciousness. Penalties are awarded for a second degree misdemeanor and can include a fine of up to $500 and 60 days imprisonment.
An aggravated assault is an actual physical attack where the offender uses a weapon and inflicts severe injuries on the victim. The injuries can include broken bones, lost teeth, unconsciousness, and internal injuries. These offenses are considered third degree felonies and awarded punishments like a fine of up to $500 and five years’ imprisonment.
Criteria for a Battery Charge
Battery charges involve situations where the offender intentionally touches or strikes the victim against their consent and inflicts bodily harm. The minimum charges are a first degree misdemeanor.
Any subsequent battery crimes after the first offense carry at least a third degree felony penalty. When prosecuting a battery charge, three criteria must be met:
- The offender inflicted harm or an offensive act on the victim
- The offender made physical contact and used force on the victim
- The battery was committed without the victim’s consent
Understanding the Different Kinds of Battery and Applicable Penalties
Battery charges are typically categorized into three kinds:
A simple battery occurs when the offender touches or strikes the victim without their consent with the purpose of inflicting physical injury.
This is a first degree misdemeanor offense and carries a penalty of up to a $1,000 fine and one year of imprisonment.
If the offender inflicts serious physical harm on the victim using a deadly weapon and it results in permanent disability or permanent disfigurement, that is aggravated battery. Less severe harm is also categorized as aggravated battery if the victim is pregnant.
The offense is a second degree felony and carries a fine of up to $10,000 and 15 years’ imprisonment.
Felony battery involves physical injury, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. Whether or not the attacker intended to hurt the victim is not important.
This is a third degree felony and penalties include a fine of up to $5,000 and five years’ imprisonment.
Facing Assault and Battery Charges? Call the Attorneys at Smith & Eulo
When you’re facing assault or battery charges, call us at Smith & Eulo, our criminal defense lawyers will help you with a defense strategy to ensure that your rights are upheld in a court of law. The most critical factors about assault and battery charges is whether you’re a first-time offender or if you have a history of criminal behavior.
Your penalties can also be reduced if the prosecutor is unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the incident did occur as described. Offering to plead guilty can also let you off with a lesser charge so you’ll get more lenient penalties and fines. Don’t feel that you must make these challenging decisions alone–trust your attorneys to advise you.