West Palm Beach Assault & Battery Lawyer
Two of the most common criminal charges in Florida are assault and battery. Many people do not actually understand how the two crimes differ or what they involve. For one thing, the victim does not necessarily have to sustain any serious or life-threatening injuries for their attacker to face criminal charges.
While many simple assault and battery cases are misdemeanors, a conviction can still leave the accused with a criminal record. If you are looking to avoid such an outcome, a skilled West Palm Beach assault & battery lawyer may be able to help. At the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., we represent clients charged with everything from simple battery to felony aggravated assault.
What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery in Florida?
Although “assault and battery” are often stated together, they are in fact separate criminal offenses. Under Florida law, an assault means making an intentional, unlawful threat to harm another. Now, simply making a threat is not always assault. The actor must have the “apparent ability” to follow through and the threat itself must cause someone else to fear for their immediate safety.
In contrast to making threats, a battery involves making intentional and actual physical contact with another person against their will or intentionally causing them bodily harm. The important thing to understand about battery is that the degree of contact is irrelevant. In other words, if you shove someone, that is battery. Even if the victim suffers no physical injury as a result of the contact, the attacker can still be charged with criminal battery.
Simple assault is considered a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida, while simple battery is a first-degree misdemeanor. These may not be felonies but they can still lead to some jail time. In the case of simple assault, the maximum penalty is 60 days in jail and a $500 fine, while simple battery can mean up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
There are, however, a number of circumstances that can elevate simple assault and battery misdemeanors to more serious felonies. If an assault or battery involves the use of a deadly weapon, such as a firearm, prosecutors can charge the defendant with aggravated assault or battery, which are third- and second-degree felonies, respectively. Again, it is important to emphasize that assault does not require any physical contact with the victim. If a person brandishes a weapon and threatens to hurt someone, that is considered aggravated assault even if the weapon is never used.
Contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson Today
Even in misdemeanor cases, an assault or battery conviction can have serious consequences for your life moving forward. That is why you must be prepared to defend yourself in court and assert your legal rights. A qualified West Palm Beach assault & battery lawyer can provide you with valuable advice and representation. So if you need to speak with an attorney about a pending case, contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., today.