People often interchange the terms ‘assault’ and battery,’ not realizing they are two different offenses under Florida law. What they do have in common, however, is that both are serious charges, and a conviction can do irreparable damage to your future.
If you’ve been arrested for assault or battery in Tampa, Florida, don’t face it alone. An assault and battery defense lawyer at Sulte Law Firm will advocate for your rights and present a defense that may get your charges dismissed or penalties reduced. Before you answer any questions from the police, call us!
Assault is the intentional threatening (either verbally or through your actions) of another person in such a way that they fear imminent bodily harm.
Actual physical contact doesn’t have to occur. If someone accuses you of swinging at them and missing, you can be charged with assault. Holding a weapon like a baseball bat and saying, “I’m going to teach you a lesson,” can also get you arrested.
In Florida, assault is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine or up to 60 days in a county jail. If you’re charged with aggravated assault (which includes assault with intent to commit a felony or assault with a deadly weapon), you can be convicted of a third-degree felony and spend up to a year in a state prison.
With battery, the victim suffers bodily harm after being intentionally struck or touched against their will. It is a first-degree misdemeanor that can send you to jail for up to one year.
Like assault, there are additional categories of battery:
- Felony battery occurs when someone is intentionally struck against their will, resulting in serious bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement. It is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
- Aggravated battery takes place when the alleged assailant uses a deadly weapon or causes serious bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement. It is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
Defenses to Assault and Battery Charges
There are many valid defenses to a Florida assault and battery charge. They include:
- Self-defense: If you believe that the other person was going to use unlawful force against you, you have the right to prevent that from happening. There is no duty to retreat before exercising your legal right to defend yourself.
- Protecting others: If you believe that you are protecting someone else from imminent use of unlawful force, you will not be convicted of assault or battery.
- Lack of intent: Sometimes, accidental injury occurs when people jokingly push each other around. If you had no intention of harming the other person, you have a valid defense to an assault or battery charge.
Do You Need to Speak to a Tampa Assault and Battery Defense Lawyer?
When you’re convicted of any type of assault and/or battery, the consequences can be far-reaching. Not only can you face substantial fines and spend time in jail or prison, but you will also have a criminal record that damages your reputation and may affect your career, employment, and educational opportunities.
When Can You Be Charged With Aggravated Assault Instead Of Assault?
Regular and aggravated assault are differentiated by the severity of the victim’s injury. With basic assault, you use words or actions to make the person believe that they face imminent bodily harm. Aggravated assault takes place when you cause or clearly intend to cause severe bodily injury. Examples include:
You cause serious physical injuries using a deadly weapon.
You point or shoot a gun at the person.
You attack them with the intent of committing rape or theft.
If you are facing either charge, contact a Tampa assault and battery lawyer immediately.
What are Special Victims?
Florida battery law defines special victims as those engaged in the performance of their duties, such as police officers, firefighters, healthcare workers, EMTs, and schoolteachers. If you are accused of committing battery against these individuals, it will be prosecuted as a third-degree felony, and penalties include restitution, a fine of up to $5,000, and/or up to five years in a state prison.
Examples of charges include:
Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer, etc.
Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer, etc.
Aggravated Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer, etc.
Aggravated Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer, etc.
How Can a Tampa Assault and Battery Defense Lawyer Help?
If you have been charged with assault or battery in Tampa, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. They will examine the circumstances of the alleged incident, review possible defenses with you, defend you during police interrogations and in court, and guide you through the entire process from start to finish.
Attorney Ryan Sulte has spent much of his legal career defending clients against all levels of assault and battery in Florida. While the ultimate goal is to get your charges dismissed, when that isn’t possible, he will fight to reduce their impact on your life and your future.