Assault vs. Battery: What's the Difference?

Assault vs. Battery: What's the Difference?

In the state of Florida, assault and battery are addressed as separate charges, though the two do commonly go hand in hand. A person commits assault by threatening violence or harm against another person, whereas battery is the physical act itself. Because the consequences of both assault and battery are so severe, it is important to understand as much about violent crime charges as possible if you are facing charges.

If you are facing charges of assault, you must be able to convince the court that you had no intention of actually following through with the alleged threats. Doing this will limit charges to assault, however, if the court decides that you did plan to physically act, you risk facing battery charges as well.

How is Assault Defined in Florida?

Florida law defines assault as the threat of harm against another person in such a way that gives the person genuine reason to fear for his or her well-being. Regardless of whether the violence is ever actually carried out, the threat is the crime in an assault charge.

There are three different degrees of assault, each with its own set of penalties the defendant may face if convicted. Aggravated assault, or first-degree assault, is the most serious assault charge because it means the defendant showed no regard for human life. This charge usually involves the threat of harm with a deadly weapon, which is anything that could be used to cause severe bodily harm. Aggravated assault charges are felonies, and usually accompany battery charges where the victim was severely injured. Lesser assault charges include second-degree assault, which may still cover threat with the use of a weapon, and third-degree assault, also called simple assault. Third-degree assault is tried as a misdemeanor, as is second-degree, in most cases.

Consequences of Committing Assault in Florida

Despite the fact that a person facing assault charges may have caused no physical harm, the penalties can still be quite serious. A first-time offender committing simple or second-degree assault will receive probation, whereas a second-degree misdemeanor may receive 60 days in jail and up to 6 months of probation. If convicted of aggravated assault, the person will be faced with a third-degree felony and could receive up to 5 years in prison. For aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, the penalties are between 3 and 5 years in prison

The Legal Definition of Battery in Florida

Unlike assault, battery is the physical touching of another person in an unlawful manner. This means the touching was harmful or offensive and against the other person’s will. There are multiple different types of battery charges a person may face in Florida, but the most essential breakdown defines batter as either simple or aggravated.

Simple battery is a misdemeanor charge, and includes touching another person painfully or offensively, such as punching them in the face, touching inappropriately, etc.. A person commits aggravated battery for inflicting serious bodily harm, usually in a life-threatening or life-altering way.

Injuries resulting in any of the following may result in aggravated battery charges:

  • Extreme pain
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of bodily function
  • Permanent harm or disability
  • Death

A person may also face sexual battery charges, which vary depending on the type of harm inflicted, the severity, and if weapons were involved.

The Consequences of Committing Battery in Florida

The state laws in Florida are harsh when dealing with battery cases. A first conviction will be treated as a misdemeanor and the defendant may face up to 1 year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines, or probation. Subsequent convictions may be charged as felony of the third degree, and may also result in 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Aggravated battery will be charged as a felony of the second degree and could result in a maximum of 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

The penalties may be more severe if the individual harmed was pregnant, family member, or public servant, such as a police officer, teacher or firefighter. Because the penalties for either assault or battery are so steep, it is crucial that you seek professional help to begin building your legal defense to protect your future.

While this guide can help you understand the different charges you may face, speaking with a lawyer about your individual case is vital. If you are facing assault or battery charges in Florida, contact Owenby Law, P.A. for a free initial consultation with our Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys.


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