Violent crimes such as assault and battery are considerably different from a criminal defense standpoint in comparison to other crime types. First of all, there seems to be a contradiction when it comes to our perception and understanding of violence. Americans have always glamorized the one-on-one fistfight. At the same time most are appalled by acts of aggression that are specifically aimed at another. When it comes to our criminal justice system, acts of violence against another raises emotional issues in both jurors and presiding judges. At the same time, Florida law with regard to lower-level battery offenses has been criticized as being far too lenient.
Our criminal justice system in Florida divides violent offenses into many subcategories based on the nature of the act, whether a weapon was used, injury to the parties and relationship to the parties.
Drastically Different Penalties for Felony Cases
Lower level battery offenses carry little to no exposure by way of penalty. Simple assault and simple battery are both misdemeanors under Florida law with sentences amounting to little more than probation in most circumstances. Aggravating factors such as injury to the victim significantly enhance penalties, however. The fact is that in Florida, there is a wide gap between low-level misdemeanor violent offenses and acts of aggression that result in injury, involved the use of weapons or were aimed at family members such as in domestic violence cases.
Self-defense is the most common and most effective defense provided it is both implemented correctly and believable by the trier of fact. A decent self-defense argument by a credible defendant generally has a high likelihood of success.
Assault & Battery Under Florida Law
(1) An “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.
(2) Whoever commits an assault shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(1) An “aggravated assault” is an assault:
(a) With a deadly weapon without intent to kill; or
(b) With an intent to commit a felony.
(2) Whoever commits an aggravated assault shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(1)(a) The offense of battery occurs when a person:
1. Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or
2. Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (2), a person who commits battery commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(2) A person who has one prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery, or felony battery and who commits any second or subsequent battery commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. For purposes of this subsection, “conviction” means a determination of guilt that is the result of a plea or a trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld or a plea of nolo contendere is entered.
(1) A person commits felony battery if he or she:
(a) Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; and
(b) Causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.
(2)(a) A person commits domestic battery by strangulation if the person knowingly and intentionally, against the will of another, impedes the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a family or household member or of a person with whom he or she is in a dating relationship, so as to create a risk of or cause great bodily harm by applying pressure on the throat or neck of the other person or by blocking the nose or mouth of the other person. This paragraph does not apply to any act of medical diagnosis, treatment, or prescription which is authorized under the laws of this state.
(b) As used in this subsection, the term:
1. “Family or household member” has the same meaning as in s. 741.28.
2. “Dating relationship” means a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.
(3) A person who commits felony battery or domestic battery by strangulation commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(1)(a) A person commits aggravated battery who, in committing battery:
1. Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or
2. Uses a deadly weapon.
(b) A person commits aggravated battery if the person who was the victim of the battery was pregnant at the time of the offense and the offender knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant.
(2) Whoever commits aggravated battery shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.