The term “assault” carries with it many more complications than you might think. In the state of Florida, there are many different interpretations of this term from a legal perspective. There are four different crimes that can fall under the umbrella of assault and battery – and with those crimes come many different potential penalties and fines. A person charged with an assault crime will definitely need to know exactly what the charge is before they can know the consequences of pleading guilty or innocent.
The four types of charges are as follows:
The least serious of these charges – simple assault – is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to sixty days in jail and a fine that could reach $500. This charge can be brought even if there were only threatening words describing a potential physical assault. As long as the victim believes the threat is real, the charge can be made whether or not the victim has been touched by the assailant.
This is more serious than a simple assault. The difference is that thethreat in this charge has been acted upon and may involve a deadly weapon or the commission of a felony. This charge is a third degree felony and carries a possible 5 year prison sentenceand $5,000 fine.
This charge may not be as harsh as aggravated assault, but it does mean the person being threatened has been physically touched without their consent. A battery charge is also brought if the victim has been intentionally harmed. Extenuating circumstances can come into play here as a battery charge may be a misdemeanor with a possible one year sentence and a $1,000 fine, but if the person charged has other assaults on their record it could become a felony charge with far worse consequences. A felony battery conviction can carry a sentence of up to 5 years in prison.
This is the worst charge to be facing when charged with assault and battery. Aggravated battery can carry up to a fifteen year prison sentence and $10,000 in fines. That is a hard price to pay, but Florida law is designed to make these punishments severe enough to prevent assaults from happening.
Some people charged with one of these crimes may believe there were mitigating circumstances leading to the contact with the alleged victim. That may also include feeling threatened during an argument that has escalated into a fight. A look at these punishments shows that losing one’s temper and making a mistake can lead to expensive fines and jail time.
Another potential issue with assault charges in Florida is the possibility that a teenager with a history of physical contact with others in the past may end up being tried as an adult. Florida leads the nation in trying minors as adults. Considering the many fights that evolve during arguments at school and on the sports field, the assault statute in this state may be used inappropriately too many times which could result in more harm than good.
The best course of action for anyone in the state charged with assault and battery – whether simple or aggravated – is to seek an experienced attorney to help with their case. With so much at stake you cannot face the system alone and just accept a plea that the DA offers. If you are facing an assault charge, contact our office today for a free consultation – our criminal defense attorneys can ensure that your rights are upheld.