Assault and battery in the state of Florida is a serious crime that carries the potential for jail time for even the simplest of related charges. As a result, what would appear to be a “straightforward scuffle” could have severe legal consequences.
That is why if you have been involved in a fight, or have reason to believe you may soon be accused of a criminal charge of assault and battery, it is important that you retain legal counsel immediately. Alexander J. Smith-Johnson, Esq is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville and has a long history as an award-winning legal advocate and public defender. He has the experience and deep knowledge of the law necessary to represent you against these extremely serious charges.
While the terms may be used interchangeably by the public, and even the media, the fact is the two charges are quite different.
Assault – refers to the threat, whether verbal or through actions, that give the perception of potential future violence or contact coupled with the ability to carry out or act on the threat. According to Florida law, an assault does not involve actual physical contact, but the victim of the assault must be in fear that the attack is about to occur. The crime of assault in the state of Florida is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to sixty days in jail and a fine of $500. There is the possibility of the imposition of probation and mandatory anger management counseling.
There are circumstances that move assault and/or battery charges from the realm of misdemeanor offense and into felony charge territory, in which case you would need a federal crime lawyer in Jacksonville.
Aggravated assault – Whereas simple assault, or a threat of violence is a misdemeanor charge, if the act that caused the charge involved a deadly weapon, such as a knife, but without the intention to kill, or with the intent to commit a felony like a mugging, simple assault is then upgraded to an aggravated assault charge. An aggravated assault is a third-degree felony charge that carries penalties of up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5000.
Felony or Aggravated Battery – A battery charge is upgraded to a felony when a person has not only physically attacked another person, but has also caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, and/or permanent disfigurement as a result of that physical attack. Aggravated battery is a second-degree felony offense in Florida, and carries a prison sentence of up to fifteen years.
There are other conditions that can increase the severity of an assault and/or battery charge, and it is important to understand how these actions can affect the potential consequences of an assault or battery accusation.
An assault or battery charge is immediately upgraded to felony level if the victim of the crime is an officer of the law, fire fighter, emergency medical personnel, or public transportation operator. There are enhancements to assault and battery charges if the victim is over the age of 65.
There are several legal defenses that a person who has been charged with assault and battery may use to avoid conviction on those charges.
Self Defense – implies that the defendant was attacked and acting in self-defense. The burden of proof lies in establishing that the defendant was genuinely in fear of imminent bodily harm from a physical attack and acted to prevent said attack.
Consent and Mutual Combat – If the defendant is engaged in a contact sport, or an event where being hit is a known risk, that would then mitigate a charge of assault and/or battery. It should be noted that mutual combat, where two people “step outside” to settle differences is not a valid legal defense, but does help to establish that both parties were equally culpable and neither was the “primary” aggressor.
If you have been charged with assault and battery or upgraded assault and battery charges in Florida, you need a Jacksonville-area criminal lawyer who understands how to mount a successful defense against these charges. Alexander J. Smith-Johnson, Esq has the courtroom experience, legal expertise and the passion for justice you need when your freedom is on the line.
Contact Alexander J. Smith-Johnson today.