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What Is the Difference Between Assault & Battery?

Assault and battery are often confused with each other while many believe that they essentially mean the same thing, but that is not true. There is a distinct difference between the two. Further differences between simple and aggravated assault and between simple and aggravated battery exist as well.

In general, assault refers to the threat to strike someone, and battery involves actually doing it. However, it is important to also consider more specific differences between these crimes.

What Is Assault?

An assault involves the threat and apparent ability to commit violence to someone else as well as creating a fear that this attack is imminent. A failed attempt at striking a person can also be defined as assault. This is a second-degree misdemeanor and may result in up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

However, assault done against someone who has been identified as a "special victim" is a first-degree misdemeanor. Examples of these individuals are law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical care providers and public transport employees. The possible penalties for those convicted of this increase to these maximums: one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.

Note that a previous criminal record, particularly if it includes assault or battery convictions, can result in extensions of these maximums.

An aggravated assault is an assault that involves more significant elements. Examples include making the threat while armed with a deadly weapon or showing intent to kill the person targeted. An aggravated assault conviction, a third-degree felony, can result in five years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.

What Is Battery?

Battery involves intentionally striking another person. This does not necessarily need to involve direct contact with the person. Items that are being worn or carried by the victim, such as clothes or a backpack, that are attacked can also result in a battery charge. It is also important to note that the victim being injured is not required. This crime is a first-degree misdemeanor and carries with it up to a one-year jail sentence and up to a $1,000 fine.

However, the same act done against someone such as a police officer or firefighter or the perpetrator having already been convicted for battery can result in this being a third-degree felony instead.

A third-degree felony charge also results if great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement or disability was unintentionally caused. Up to five years imprisonment and up to a $5,000 fine may be given to those convicted of this.

Meanwhile, aggravated battery is defined as an assault that intentionally causes great bodily harm, such as disfigurement or a permanent injury, an assault that involved a deadly weapon or an assault that was done on someone who the perpetrator knew or should have known was pregnant at the time. An aggravated assault conviction, which is a second-degree felony, can result in 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Assault and Battery Defense Attorneys

One of the possible reasons that you may have engaged in an act that led to an arrest for assault or battery was you engaging in self-defense – i.e. protecting yourself from an attack. This is legally allowed as long as you genuinely believe that you were about to be physically attacked or you already were. Another possible defense is mutual combat. This results if you and someone else essentially mutually agreed to fight and then did so. Another defense occurs if you had no intent to harm someone.

You should also note that it is possible to commit assault or battery and a DUI. One example would be having physical control of a vehicle and intentionally driving it towards or actually hitting others while under the influence of a controlled substance. Also take into account that Florida's physical control laws could result in a conviction even if you are not physically seen by officers or witnesses behind the wheel as long as it is deemed extremely likely that you had been driving it during the incident.

If you are in need of assistance with an assault or battery charge, contact our legal team at Monroe & King, P.A., and we will ensure that your rights are upheld and that you are treated fairly. We specialize in DUI, assault and battery and several other types of criminal charges.