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Criminal Law: Assault vs. Battery

Assault and battery in Florida are two separate criminal charges, with different possible penalties, and it's important to understand the difference.

Assault is a second degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine and/or 6 months of probation. Assault is defined by threatening someone with physical harm. The physical harm, however, must be possible and the victim must be in fear that such harm is likely to occur. You can be charged with assault without any touching whatsoever.

If an assault is committed with a deadly weapon or with the intent to commit a felony, it becomes an aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison or probation. As with assault, you can be charged with aggravated assault without any actual touching. This offense is not eligible for sealing/expungement.

On the other hand, a battery requires there to be an actual touching. A battery is the intentional touching or striking of another person or intentionally committing bodily harm. A battery is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail/probation and/or a $1000 fine. However, if you commit a battery and you have a prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery, or felony battery, you can be charged with a felony battery, a third-degree felony.

An aggravated battery is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, probation, and/or $10,000 in fines. It is a second-degree felony if you cause great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement to someone in the commission of a battery, if you use a deadly weapon to commit a battery, or commit a battery against someone you knew was pregnant. This offense is not eligible for sealing/expungement.

If you are charged with any of the offenses above, it is imperative that you speak to a criminal defense attorney. Many employers will not hire you if you have a violent offense on your record or convicted of one. You may be eligible to have your record sealed or expunged for a misdemeanor battery or assault charge. Contact us for a free consultation. We will fight aggressively to get the best results for your case.

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