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If you have been charged with a violent crime, you may be worried about the consequences that await you if you are convicted. No matter how seemingly minor the charge, you could still face jail time and significant fines. In Florida, a simple assault is classified as a second degree misdemeanor and can result in up to 60 days in jail and up to $500 in fines, while a more serious charge of aggravated battery, a second degree felony, can result in up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Anyone facing assault and battery charges should be aware of how those crimes are defined under Florida law and the best defense strategies to defend against those charges.

Assault v. battery

In layman’s terms, assault may be thought of as a physical attack causing injury, much like battery. However, in legal terms, the two crimes are not the same.

The crime of assault does not necessarily require a physical attack or injury. However, threatening words alone are not enough. Under Florida law, a simple assault will require:

  • An intentional threat of violence through words and overt action;
  • An apparent ability to commit the violent act; and
  • A reasonable fear of imminent harm in the person being targeted based on the above.

Battery, on the other hand, will require physical touch and injury to another person. Under Florida law, a simple battery involves:

  • Unwanted or offensive, intentional touching of another person or
  • Intentionally causing bodily harm to another person

Defending against assault and battery

Your attorney will base your defense strategy on the specifics of your case. However, these are some common defenses that are often used to defend against assault and battery charges:

  • Self-defense or defense of others – You acted because you had a legitimate fear of harm to yourself or to someone else, did not engage in provocation, and had no reasonable opportunity to retreat.
  • Defense of property or another person – You used reasonable force to protect your property.
  • Lack of intent – The physical contact was accidental or you did not intend to threaten the alleged victim.
  • Consent – Your actions were consented to by the alleged victim.

Defending against charges for violent crimes can be overwhelming without the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will review all the facts, gather the evidence, prepare witnesses, and build a case that gives you the best chance at having your charges dismissed or reduced.