Although violence takes many forms, we tend to think of “violence” as physically harmful actions toward others. Whether punches, kicks, or blows, violence may hurt, damage, or kill a living being. In Florida, state laws define several forms of violence. The differences between criminal charges and the penalties they may carry may not always be clear, but they may be crucial to someone facing criminal charges for a violent crime.
Some of the most common crimes of violence in Florida are assault and battery. Domestic violence encompasses violent acts between spouses, dating partners, or others who share an intimate relationship. All too often, most people can’t differentiate between these different terms, although the actions they represent usually occur during the same incident. For example, an individual who threatens to hurt their spouse and then hits them has committed an act of domestic violence, assault, and battery.
The subtle differences between each offense may have a significant impact on how the courts handle your case and sentence you if you’re convicted.
What Is Assault in Florida?
Assault is a physical or verbal threat to cause someone harm. To establish an assault, there must be an apparent ability to carry out the harm and it must create a well-founded fear in the victim that violence is imminent. No contact needs to be made to establish an assault.
Simple assault is a second-degree misdemeanor that may lead to a fine of up to $500 and/or a jail sentence of up to 60 days.
What Is Aggravated Assault?
Aggravated assault is a heightened form of assault that may lead to more severe penalties upon a conviction. For the court to establish aggravated assault, the assault must involve a deadly weapon or the intent to commit a felony offense. Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony in Florida which may lead to up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
What Is Battery in Florida?
Battery is what most people mean when they use the term assault. A battery involves physical contact and may take place in one of two ways:
- Intentionally striking another person against their will
- Intentionally causing bodily harm to another person
Battery is a first-degree misdemeanor offense for which a person may face up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Aggravated battery requires a battery and one of three other facts. These facts may be:
- The perpetrator intentionally or knowingly caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the victim
- The perpetrator utilized a deadly weapon
- The perpetrator committed a battery upon a pregnant victim whom they knew or should have known was pregnant at the time of the battery
Aggravated battery is a second-degree felony which may lead to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
Felony battery is yet another offense that may occur when a person strikes another individual on purpose and causes—but does not intend to cause—great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. Felony battery is a third-degree felony offense that carries a maximum penalty of up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
What Crimes Are Considered Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is any violence occurring between “family or household members.” A family or household member includes:
- Current or former spouses
- Persons related by blood or marriage
- Persons currently or formerly living together as a family
- Parents who share a child
Domestic violence may refer to assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other criminal offense resulting in the physical injury or death of a family or household member by another family or household member.
Additionally, domestic battery strangulation is a specific domestic violence crime in which a person knowingly and intentionally strangles a family member or intimate partner without their permission. Like felony battery, this is a third-degree felony offense.
The Distinction Between Crimes of Violence and Domestic Violence in Florida
It’s important to understand that any type of violent crime may be a domestic violence offense when it occurs between family or household members. Crimes of domestic violence may lead to mandatory minimum jail or prison sentences, and may be handled differently overall by the courts than regular crimes of violence.
Don’t Take Chances When Facing Violent Crime Charges
If you’ve been accused of violence and face misdemeanor or felony charges, you must secure competent criminal representation as soon as possible. Without sufficient evidence, it is especially challenging to prove the intent portion of a charge of violence, particularly one of domestic violence. This may be advantageous to your defense.
Additionally, if your alleged victim refuses to testify in court, there may be a good chance that your case will not lead to a trial. Contact Attorney Brian Gabriel at the Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel to learn more by calling 561-622-5575 completing a contact form for a free consultation. Attorney Brian P. Gabriel has proudly served the greater Palm Beach area for more than 30 years as an advocate for individuals facing criminal charges.