In Florida, battery is a separate crime from assault, even though they are often linked together.
Both of these carry serious consequences, including hefty fines and even incarceration. But there is a distinct difference between assault and battery; assault is considered a threat that includes making somebody fear that they will be harmed in one way or another.
However, when somebody is accused of or charged with battery, it usually means they caused physical harm to another human being or touched somebody without consent and against their will. The severity of the punishment is traditionally considered a petty misdemeanor because it is regarded as the least severe form of battery and usually doesn’t consist of serious injuries.
On the other hand, aggravated battery is the most serious form of battery and can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law as a felony or, at the very least, it can be charged as a maximum misdemeanor depending on the scope of the crime. Battery and aggravated battery share the common fact that they involve touching somebody without consent, but the extent of the aggravated battery’s offense can be extremely serious.
Battery (Simple Battery)
Battery is considered an offensive or unwanted touching of another individual or intentionally causing bodily harm to another human being without any weapons. This can also be known as a ‘simple battery’ because there are usually no aggravating factors.
However, for any person to be convicted of battery crime, the prosecution must show that the defendant (accused person of committing the battery) had the intent to cause any unwanted touching or bodily harm to the Victim.
This generally means that the defendant had some type of intention to either touch or hit the Victim. If this was considered an accidental touching or striking, then it does not satisfy this requirement. Battery, aka simple battery, is deemed to be a first-degree misdemeanor in the State of Florida. And as such, the defendant could face up to one year in jail, pay up to $1,000 in fines, and be put on probation.
The circumstances that will dictate whether or not a prosecutor decides to pursue jail time depend on various factors, including the defendant’s prior criminal records, the Victim’s suggested preferences, and whether or not the extent of the contact caused any serious injuries. There are other considerations based on the facts of the case and the legal team.
An aggravated battery is a much more serious offense that does require the same factors as the unwanted touching or hitting another individual like a simple battery. However, the aggravated battery is considered to be much more severe because of all the crime characteristics or the injuries to the Victim.
Aggravated battery often occurs when the defendant uses any type of a deadly weapon to intentionally or knowingly cause:
- Extreme Bodily Harm
- Permanent Disfigurement
- Permanent Disability to the Victim (s)
And a simple battery can be charged as an aggravated battery if the following happens:
- Harm or Injuries to an Unborn Child or the Pregnant Mother
- Harm or injuries to any Person Over 65 Years Old
The aggravated battery crime is generally charged as a second-degree felony and can have a maximum sentence of up to 15 years imprisonment with fines adding up to $10,000. If the defendant had a firearm in their possession at the time of the attack, they could be given a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.
Note: This includes any firearm present but not discharged or a firearm that has been discharged; either way, the mandatory minimum sentence can be used.
The Difference in Penalties for Battery and Aggravated Battery
One of the most significant differences between simple battery and aggravated battery charges are the penalties given if convicted of the crime. If somebody is charged with a simple battery, they will be tried in a county court where the penalty is considered a first-degree misdemeanor and can be given a jail sentence up to one year.
However, suppose somebody is charged with an aggravated battery. In that case, they will be tried in the circuit court, where the penalty is considered a second-degree penalty and comes with the possibility of getting the maximum sentence, which can be up to 15 years of jail time. As you can see, the two different charges can carry quite a different outcome and penalty.
Domestic Violence Battery
When battery is committed in the State of Florida on a person you are in a relationship with or on one of your family members, this is considered to be a domestic violence battery and will be tried as such. This not only applies to current relationships; it can also be used when the battery is committed against an ex-girlfriend or an ex-boyfriend.
This type of charge is distinctly different from the other battery charges, and the office of the State Attorney takes these types of cases very seriously. They have divisions that solely focus on these types of crimes. There are many concerns for any victim(s) who might be suffering from battered woman syndrome.
Due to the concerns for recidivism, final offers usually include completing a batterer’s intervention program, which is normally an intensive weekly program that lasts at a minimum of 26 weeks (or six months) and can go much longer depending on the extent of the charges.
Unfortunately, domestic violence battery can be one of the most challenging charges to dispute because people’s emotions run high. Sometimes, that leans towards a victim exaggerating the story, leaving out essential details, and lying to hurt another person. Seeking the truth behind all the accusations can sometimes be rather hard to do.
This is seen more often than not in child custody cases where one adult wishes to punish the other adult via domestic violence battery charges. While nobody should be the Victim of any domestic violence, it is known that people sometimes lie or even make up a story to get another person arrested.
When this is the case, and it occurs, you will need the best domestic violence lawyer, you can find to represent you. The attorney will need to look into the motive, whether it is out of jealousy or spite, and discover all the details that can play a vital role in whether these charges will result in a conviction or an acquittal.
Domestic violence battery is typically charged as a first-degree misdemeanor and usually results in up to 12 months of county probation; community service, anger management class, batterer’s intervention program, and zero contact with the Victim.
The maximum penalty for domestic violence battery is one year in jail or probation, paying $1,000 in fines, and be charged $151 for the battery surcharge if you’re convicted. Often the consequences of being arrested for this type of crime or even being perceived as a ‘wife-beater’ can be damaging to your career and or personal life.
The crime of felony battery is very serious and includes intentionally touching or hitting another individual that results in severe bodily harm, according to the Florida Statutes, Section 784.041. You could also be charged with a felony battery if you already have a prior conviction for any type of battery crimes.
In the State of Florida, felony battery is considered a third-degree felony, and unlike an aggravated battery, it does not require the intent to cause severe bodily harm. The most significant difference between the three different crimes of misdemeanor battery, aggravated battery, and felony battery depends on the injury level that was sustained by the Victim.
With misdemeanor battery, no injury is necessary for you to be charged with the crime. However, before the charge of a felony battery (unless you have any prior convictions for battery), you must have inflicted a significant injury on another individual.
For example, if you just shove another person and it results in them falling down but not sustaining any type of a real, lasting injury – you would most likely be charged with just misdemeanor battery. But, if you shoved another individual and caused them to suffer any broken bones, then you could be charged with a felony battery based on the severity of the injury.
Often, you will see a person being charged with aggravated battery when, in reality, the facts of the crime only qualify as a simple battery. Without the assistance of an attorney who specializes in this area of the law, that person could be improperly charged and possibly convicted for the crime.
When somebody is convicted of any battery charge, severe consequences will have a considerable impact on their life. A conviction can affect your finances, reputation, livelihood, and most importantly, it can affect your freedom.
Any individual facing these charges should choose to consult with a criminal defense lawyer who is very knowledgeable about the different battery stages, especially the more serious aggravated or felony battery charges.
When consulting with an attorney who specializes in these types of charges, they can explain the accused’s rights and also explore any options that may be available based on the circumstances of the case.