In the state of Florida, crimes of violence often start as a misunderstanding or disagreement, but can soon escalate into a very dangerous situation. When these arguments become physical, assault and battery charges may follow. In order to avoid these very serious charges, the law offices of Smith and Eulo are proud to offer this primer on the crimes of assault and battery in Tampa, Florida.
Assault and battery are often used interchangeably when referring to crimes of violence, but as we will see, the two charges are very different.
Assault Offenses in Florida
In the state of Florida, an assault is defined as an intentional threat, by word or act, to commit immediate physical violence against another person. This threat must be accompanied by:
- The means to commit immediate violence
- The genuine belief on the part of the victim that the attack is imminent
It is vital to make note of the fact that it is not necessary to make actual physical contact with the victim for the threat to rise to the level of assault. By making the threat, coupled with the ability to carry out the attack right then and there, along with the belief by the victim that the attack is about to happen, the standard for assault in the state of Florida is reached.
Penalty for Assault in Tampa, FL
Simple assault in the state of Florida is second-degree misdemeanor, and is punishable by:
- Up to 60 days in jail
- A fine of $500.00
- The possibility of probation and mandatory anger management classes.
Battery Offenses in Tampa, FL
When someone is physically attacked, intentionally and against their will, this is considered battery in the state of Florida, and happens independently of a threat to attack. If someone is struck from behind, they have no reasonable anticipation of the imminent attack, so there is no charge of assault, but the physical blow or “sucker punch” does constitute simple battery under Florida law.
Battery is a first-degree misdemeanor that carries penalties of:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- A $1000 fine
A second battery offense is automatically escalated to a third-degree felony offense. The penalty for third-degree felony battery is:
- Up to 5 years in prison
- A fine of as much as $5000
Upgraded Assault and Battery Charges in Tampa, FL
When weapons are used in assault and battery offenses, or when other offenses are committed during the act, charges are upgraded and penalties are increased.
Aggravated assault charges come into play when a deadly weapon is used during the attack, or the assault is committed with the intention to commit another felony. A deadly weapon, in the eyes of Florida state law is defined as a weapon that is used or threatened to be used in a way likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Because of the broadness of the definition, Florida courts have also established instrumentalities that can be considered deadly weapons.
- Moving automobiles
- Darts from a blow gun
- Glass Bottles
Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony in Tampa, Florida, and carries penalties of a maximum of five years in jail and a fine of as much as $5000.
Also known as felony battery, this charge relates to an attack that was not only physical, but sufficient to meet the level of great bodily harm, permanent disability, and/or permanent disfigurement as a result of said attack.
Felony battery is a second-degree felony that carries a prison sentence of up to fifteen years.
Other Conditions That Escalate Assault and Battery Charges
If an act of assault and/or battery should be committed against specific civil employees and certain other people, the charges are automatically upgraded to felony level. These specific persons include:
- Police officers
- Emergency medical personnel
- Public transportation operators
- People over the age of 65 years old
Legal Defenses to Assault and Battery Charges in Tampa, FL
Self-defense, particularly in cases involving felony assault with a firearm, which can carry as much as 25 years in prison, is often used as a legal defense to the charge. In order to successfully use self-protection as a defense, the defendant must prove:
- They were threatened by the victim through word or act
- They believed the victim had the means and intention to act immediately and with violence against the defendant
- The actions of the victim caused the defendant to have a reasonable fear of imminent harm by violence due to a perceived threat
- That a deadly weapon was used during the act
- That the assault was committed with intention to commit a felony against the defendant
Being charged with assault and battery, or escalated assault and battery charges can be a scary, confusing experience. The Tampa criminal defense attorneys at Smith and Eulo law firm have a wealth of legal knowledge and courtroom experience to draw from when defending clients from assault and battery charges.
If you have been accused of an assault and battery crime in Tampa, FL contact Smith and Eulo law firm today we are experienced assault and battery defense attorneys in the area. Call now for your free consultation: 813-359-8667
Here are some legal resources in the Tampa Bay area to help you navigate your legal situation.