Assault and Battery

When it comes to battery, the thing that most people fail to realize is that the touching does not have to be the typical slap, smack, push, or punch. Simply touching someone without his or her permission in an offensive way or striking something that another person is holding might be considered battery under Florida law.

Assault, while often included with battery in regular discussion, is an entirely separate criminal offense. The fundamental characteristic in assault crimes is the unlawful threat. Unlike popular belief, punching someone is not an assault that is battery, nor is stalking someone considered assault – that is simply stalking. Assault means to place a person in reasonable fear of imminent harm or contact.

Reasonable fear of imminent threat means that it is plausible or likely that someone could actually cause you harm. The "reasonable and imminent" portions of the Florida assault statute are crucial.

Under Florida law, an individual may be charged with simple battery or assault depending on the circumstances.

Attorney for Battery in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

The Bacchus & Navarro Attorneys represent clients charged with violent crimes such as battery, assault, and domestic violence throughout the Miami-Metropolitan area in Broward County and the surrounding areas of Palm Beach, Collier, Hendry, and Miami-Dade County.

Being considered a "defendant" does not mean you are guilty under Florida law. Talk with an experienced criminal defense attorney who will fight for your best defense and zealously advocate for your charges to be dropped.

Call (954) 500-5555 to schedule a one-on-one with an attorney at Bacchus & Navarro Law Group.

Broward County Assault and Battery Information Center

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Elements of Battery under § 784.03 Fla. Stat.

Under Florida law, to prove the violent crime of battery, the prosecution of this State must show, beyond a reasonable doubt, the following:

  • the defendant struck or touched the victim;
  • the touch or strike was done without the victim's consent, and
  • the defendant intentionally caused bodily harm to the victim.

If a defendant is found guilty of battery for the first time, then the penalty is generally a first-degree misdemeanor. First-offense battery, upon conviction, is punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 fines.

If a person commits a battery and has a prior conviction for battery or aggravated battery then the subsequent conviction is charged as a third-degree felony. In Florida, a third-degree felony is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and up to $5,000 fines.

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Aggravated Battery Elements under Florida Statute § 784.045

The State must show, beyond a reasonable doubt, the following elements in order to prove aggravated battery under Florida law:

  • the defendant unlawfully and intentionally threatened;
  • the defendant 's threat was either by word or act to do violence to the victim; and
  • the defendant's act created in the mind of the victim a well-founded fear that violence was about to take place.

An individual can also be charged with aggravated battery if, including the above elements, the defendant does one of the following:

  • the defendant uses a deadly weapon; or
  • the defendant assaulted the victim with a fully-formed conscious to comment [an enumerated felony] upon the victim.

Aggravated battery is a second-degree felony under Florida law. The penalty for a conviction is up to fifteen (15) years in prison and up to $10,000 fines.

Lesser-included Offenses of Aggravated Battery

Under Florida law, if the prosecution falls short of proving aggravated battery, the State may charge any of the following lesser-included offenses:

  • Attempt – § 777.04(1) Fla. Stat.
  • Improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon – § 790.10 Fla. Stat.
  • Assault -- § 784.011 Fla. Stat.
  • Discharging firearms in public - § 790.15 Fla. Stat.

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Felony Battery under Florida Statute § 784.041

While aggravated battery is a felony, a battery that is charged as a felony has separate elements and is a different crime. To prove felony battery, the State of Florida must show the following:

  • the defendant touched or struck another person knowingly and intentionally;
  • the defendant intentionally caused great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement, or
  • the defendant committed domestic battery by strangulation.

When the individual is convicted of felony battery, the offense is charged as a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to five (5) years in jail and up to a $5,000 fines.

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Assault or Battery Upon Special Victims in Broward County, FL

Florida law seeks to protect certain classes of individuals. Punching or striking certain people can cause a simple offense of battery, which is normally charged as a misdemeanor to receive an enhanced sentence and end up being charged as a felony. The following individuals are considered "special victims:"

  • Law enforcement officers
  • Emergency medical care providers
  • Firefighters
  • Public transit employees

Enhanced Sentence for Special Victims

If a person is found guilty of assault or battery against a special victim, the punishment is enhanced as follows:

  • Battery – usually charged as a misdemeanor becomes a third-degree felony;
  • Aggravated Battery – usually charged as a second-degree felony becomes a first-degree felony;
  • Assault – second-degree misdemeanor becomes first-degree misdemeanor assault;
  • Aggravated Assault – third-degree felony assault becomes second-degree.

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Elements of Florida Assault Crimes

Under Fla. Stat. § 784.011 defines an assault as an unlawful, intentional, threat by act or words, to commit violence against another person coupled with the present ability to carry out the threat.

The charged assault should have created plausible fear in the mind of the victim. To charge an individual with assault, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the following elements:

  1. the defendant actually intended to create the threat;
  2. the defendant had the ability to carry out the threat; and
  3. the defendant's threat created a well-grounded fear in the victim.

The prosecutor may not need to show that the victim was in actual fear in order to convict. Assault is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to sixty (60) days in jail and up to $500 fines.

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Elements of Felony Assault in Florida

Basic assault becomes felonious assault when the above elements are carried out with the intent to commit a felony or are carried out with the use of a deadly weapon.  In addition, intent to kill is not required to prove aggravated assault.

The Florida Jury Instructions define "deadly weapon" as a weapon that has the potential to kill or cause great bodily harm. Some examples of a deadly weapon include the following:

  • guns
  • bats
  • knives
  • large rocks

Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and up to $5,000 fines.

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Defenses to Assault Charges in Florida

The most common defenses to both assault and battery charges are self-defense and consent. If an individual consents to such assaultive conduct like wrestling for example, which includes taunting or aggressive sports where such behavior is normal, then a victim cannot later claim assault.

Self-defense or defense of others is another defense to assault or battery charges. Florida law allows an individual to match equal force with force. Therefore, if a person is assaulting you, then defending yourself in a manner reasonable to the circumstances may be appropriate.

Speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney is imperative to clarify the gray areas if you or someone you know has been charged with assault.

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Additional Resources

784.03 Fla. Stat. – Visit Online Sunshine, the official website of the Florida Legislature to find the full Florida statute for battery, aggravated battery, and related offenses. Also find the penalties, under Florida law, for being found guilty of battery.

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Find a Lawyer for Battery in Broward County, FL

If you or someone you know has been charged with a violent crime under Florida law, the penalties can be life changing. To fully understand how to fight for your rights, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. We represent clients throughout the Miami-metropolitan area, including Broward County, Collier County, Miami-Dade County, and Hendry County, Florida.

The attorneys at Bacchus & Navarro Law Group have years of experienced defending people accused of crimes such as a battery, aggravated battery, domestic violence and other violent crimes. Speak with an attorney now for more information.

Our offices are centrally located on Southeast 3rd Ave, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, just minutes from the Broward County Central Courthouse. If you have been arrested or are subject to investigative procedures in Miami, West Palm Beach, East Naples, or LaBelle, Florida, then contact our firm immediately.

Call (954) 500-5555 for a face-to-face consultation.  

This article was last updated, Wednesday, April 12, 2017.

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