Assault vs battery: Which charge is more serious in Florida?
Any violent crime charge requires an effective defense strategy for the defendant, but obviously some violent crime charges are more serious than others.
In Florida, there is often confusion over certain terms used in criminal charges, and it’s important to know the meaning of a specific charge if you have been accused of a violent crime.
For example, “assault” and “battery” are often confused. In many cases, a person is accused of both offenses — assault and battery — in connection with the same alleged incident. Following is a quick overview of the differences between the two types of charges in Florida:
Assault generally involves threatening to harm someone else. To convict someone of assault, the prosecution must show that the threat caused the victim to fear imminent harm. You can be charged with assault even if you never made physical contact with the other person. Types of assault charges include:
- Simple assault is a second-degree misdemeanor. A simple assault conviction could result in up to 60 days of incarceration and a fine of up to $500.
- Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony. An aggravated assault conviction could result in up to five years of incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000.
Generally, prosecutors seek to prove that the defendant intended to threaten another person, causing that person to feel fear, or the prosecution will seek to prove that the defendant intended to carry out a violent act. The prosecution must also show that the defendant demonstrated the ability to carry out the threat.
Battery generally involves physical contact between the defendant and the victim. To convict someone of battery, the prosecution must show that the defendant struck or otherwise touched the victim against the victim’s will and without the victim’s consent. Types of battery charges include:
- Simple battery is a first-degree misdemeanor. A conviction on a simple battery charge may result in up to one year of incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Felony battery is a third-degree felony. Being convicted of felony battery can result in up to five years of incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Aggravated battery is a second-degree felony. An aggravated battery conviction could result in up to 15 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
Defenses against assault and battery charges
Depending on the facts of the case, defenses against assault or battery charges may involve showing any of the following:
- The incident was an accident
- The defendant had no intention of threatening or harming the alleged victim
- The other party actually consented to the physical contact
- The incident occurred in self-defense
- The incident occurred in defense of another person
- The incident occurred in defense against harm to property
A well-crafted criminal defense against these and other violent crime charges is critical in avoiding the harshest of possible penalties. If you are facing an assault or battery charge, talk as soon as possible to a criminal defense attorney with extensive experience in these types of cases.