Often, people use the terms assault and battery interchangeably. While it is true that they are related, they are actually two distinct offenses, with differing penalties as well.
Under Florida law, assault is defined as the intentional, unlawful threat to do violence to another person, with an apparent ability to do so, and doing something which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that violence is imminent.
An example would be a person attempting to punch another person. Importantly, the victim in this situation would have to be aware of the attempted punch, otherwise there would not be a well-founded fear of imminent violence. Assault is considered a second degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and a jail sentence of up to 60 days.
Florida also defines a more serious offense called aggravated assault, which is a third degree felony, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and a prison sentence of up to five years. It is defined as an assault:
- with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill; or
- with an intent to commit a felony.
It is important to note that in assault there is no actual physical contact between the offender and the victim. If physical contact is made, the offense becomes battery and is typically considered more serious.
Battery is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and a prison sentence of up to one year. It is defined as when a person:
- actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of that person; or
- intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.
An example of this would be if a person actually punched another person. For battery, unlike for assault, the victim does not need to be aware of the impending violence.
There are two more serious forms of battery: felony and aggravated battery. Pursuant to §784.041, felony battery occurs if a person actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against that person's will and causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. Felony battery is a third degree felony.
Pursuant to §784.045, aggravated battery occurs if a person, while committing battery, intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. It also includes using a deadly weapon or if the victim was pregnant at the time of the offense. It is important to note that in an aggravated battery, the person intended for the serious harm to occur, whereas in a felony battery the touching of the victim was intended, but not the seriousness of the injury. Aggravated battery is a second degree felony, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you have been charged, or are under investigation, for any of these offenses, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys at Farkas & Crowley, P.A. have the experience necessary to help you. Please contact us today with any questions you may have.