The Difference Between Assault and Battery

Written By: Valentina Quintero
Paralegal- Hansen Law Firm

Many people use assault and battery interchangeably but there are key legal differences to each and how they will play out in a court setting. In Florida, defining an offense as assault or battery comes down to one main factor: physical contact.
The legal definition for assault is “an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent”.
The legal definition for battery is  “when a  person actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.”
In Florida, a victim of an offense can press assault charges against another individual if they feel like they have been verbally or physically threatened by said individual and there is a foundation of fear against this individual. The threat needs to be proven to be viable and capable of being carried out by this individual.
On the other hand, a battery offense involves actual physical contact with the victim and the defendant. In battery cases, the victim has  been touched or striked by the defendant without their consent.
Assault and battery offenses can have different legal consequences depending on the nature of the crime and the factors surrounding it.  In Florida, assault is considered a second degree misdemeanor. However, an assault can escalate to a third degree felony if the offense was committed with a deadly weapon with an intent to kill, making it an Aggravated Assault.
In Florida, a battery charge is subject to a first degree misdemeanor with up to one year of jail time. A battery can also be upscaled into the aggravated category if the following factors are present at the time of the battery offense: the victim has caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement, or uses a deadly weapon. Also, if the victim of a battery offense was pregnant at the time of the offense, it is also considered an aggravated battery.
An aggravated battery can be charged as a second degree felony and made punishable to up to 15 years in prison.
Battery or assault charges sometimes tend to catch people by surprise. Many people do not realize that any action or word directed at another person can be used against them in court and take them through a frustrating legal battle.
It is critical to hire a criminal defense attorney if you find yourself facing battery or assault charges. It is important to hire an experienced lawyer that can build a strong defense for your case and ensure your rights are being upheld in a court of law.

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