What’s the difference between assault and battery in Florida?

| May 15, 2020 | Criminal Defense

People often use the terms assault and battery interchangeably or as a phrase, but in Florida, they are separate legal charges that people can face. Confusion about these terms and what constitutes either assault or battery could lead to people making preventable legal mistakes.

Although there may be some overlap between assault and battery, situations that don’t qualify for battery charges can still result in someone facing assault charges. Once you know the difference between these assault and battery offenses, you can make smarter decisions about any pending criminal charges you may find yourself facing.

Assault involves creating a sense of fear in another person

Individuals who face charges of assault allegedly engaged in behavior that terrorized someone or made them fearful for their safety or the safety of others. You don’t even need to make physical contact with someone to get charged with assault.

Sometimes, assault can involve physical behavior, such as pulling back your arm as though you intend to strike someone. Other times, the words you say to someone can constitute assault. Many times, threats will result in simple assault charges, but not always.

Brandishing or displaying a weapon as a means of intimidating someone is also a form of assault. If the situation involves a weapon, prosecutors can bring aggravated or felony assault charges against the individual involved. The same is true if the assault took place during the commission of another felony crime.

Battery involves causing bodily harm to another person

When one person strikes, grabs or otherwise makes unwanted physical contact with another person, they have committed an act of battery. Like assault, there are multiple forms of battery, which include simple and aggravated battery.

Simple battery is the lesser charge and could involve unwanted touching or physical abuse that doesn’t lead to significant injuries. If the victim suffers serious injury or the attacker allegedly intended to cause great bodily harm or used a weapon, they could face aggravated battery charges. Those with a previous battery conviction could wind up charged with felony battery for a repeat offense.

Both battery and assault convictions can impact your future by limiting your educational and career opportunities. Defending yourself, even against a misdemeanor charge, is often in your best interests.