Assault & Battery Charges Under Florida Law
Orlando Battery and Assault Defense Lawyer
While assaults and batteries can be classified as Domestic Violence if they occur between family members or within a household (See Domestic Violence section), they can be charged as non domestic criminal offenses as well.
An Assault (under Florida Statute 784.011) requires proof of three elements:
- a person intentionally and unlawfully threatened, either by word or act, to do violence to another person;
- at the time the accused appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat;
- the act of the person created in the mind of the alleged victim a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place.
A couple of important things to note about the assault statute: it requires specific intent or state of mind in the accused to cause the fear in the victim; if that state of mind cannot be proven then the accused cannot be convicted. The alleged victim’s fear must be well-founded. The accused must have the present ability to carry out on the threat – it cannot be a threat to do something off into the future.
A Battery (under Florida Statute 784.03), requires proof of two elements:
- a person intentionally touched or struck the alleged victim against his or her will;
- the accused intentionally caused bodily harm to the alleged victim.
A Battery does not necessarily have to be a punch, kick or slap – it can anything from a push, to a poke, to the more obvious types of actions. Also, in the misdemeanor form, the “bodily harm” does not have be proven by visible injuries – it would be enough for an alleged victim to say, “He poked me with his finger and it hurt.” (If there are serious injuries involved, the battery can be upgraded to a felony or aggravated battery, which will be discussed below.)
A feature of both of these charges is that they can be proven with just the testimony of the alleged victim. That can be enough evidence to get a conviction – it is not required that physical evidence of an injury be shown, or that there be independent witnesses to the alleged crime. Obviously if there is evidence of physical injury and/or independent witnesses it makes for a stronger case, but it isn’t required.
The possible punishment for an assault is up to 60 days in jail, up to a $500.00 fine and court costs. As an alternative to jail a person could get up to 6 months of supervised probation. A Battery carries up to one year in jail, and up to a $1,000.00 fine and court costs; a person can get up to one year of probation as an alternative to jail.
The basic offense of assault or battery can be enhanced from misdemeanors to felonies.
In the case of an Assault, it can become an Aggravated Assault if the accused possessed a deadly weapon but did not have the intent to kill, or if the accused had the intent to commit a felony when the assault was committed. An Aggravated Assault is a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to a $10,000.00 fine. A person could get up to 5 years of probation as part of a sentence, either instead of incarceration, or in conjunction with it (a “split” sentence where a person could get some time followed by some probation). Note that if a gun is used in an Aggravated Assault, if convicted the accused would be looking at a 3 year minimum mandatory prison sentence – meaning that the person would serve a minimum of 3 years in prison, without any gain time eligibility.
Aggravated / Felony Battery
The charge of Battery can be enhanced in a number of ways. A misdemeanor battery can become a “Felony Battery” if the accused has a prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery or felony battery, and they commit a second or subsequent battery. A “Felony Battery” is a 3rd degree felony, punishable as described above in the Aggravated Assault paragraph.
Other Battery enhancements from a misdemeanor to a third degree felony:
- if the accused causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement in the alleged victim,;
- or if the battery is a domestic battery by strangulation – meaning that it is committed on a family or household member and involves an attempt to choke the person’s throat or neck, or attempts to block the person’s breathing.
A Battery becomes an Aggravated Battery when:
- the accused intentionally and knowingly caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement;
- or the accused uses a deadly weapon;
- or if the alleged victim was pregnant at the time of the offense and the accused knew or should have known the alleged victim was pregnant.
Aggravated Battery is a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, up to a $10,000.00 fine; up to 15 years of probation is also a possibility with this offense. If the deadly weapon used is a firearm, the accused is subject to a ten year minimum mandatory prison sentence.
Contact Assault and Battery Defense Lawyer David P. Hill
Assault and Batteries can be misdemeanors for which one can face jail or probation, but can be enhanced up to serious felonies which, in cases involving the use of a firearm, can result in significant minimum mandatory prison sentences. Also, even misdemeanors can be used to enhance a future misdemeanor into a felony offense. It is crucial when charged with these offenses, whether misdemeanor or felony, to engage the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. David P. Hill has handled hundreds of assault and battery charges over his twenty year career as a criminal defense lawyer in Orlando, Florida. Self –defense and defense of others are valid defenses in these cases that David P. Hill has successfully utilized in the past. While the facts can vary widely from case to case, he has successfully gotten charges dropped or reduced prior to trial, through legal motions and/or negotiations with the prosecutor. If the cases were not resolved prior to trial, David P. Hill has successfully litigated these types of cases at trial resulting in acquittals. Whichever direction is the right one to take your case in, David P. Hill has experience in how it should be handled. Call assault defense lawyer David P. Hill today to talk about your case at (407) 648-0006, email him or fill out the online form. David P. Hill will contact you as soon as possible.