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What is the Difference Between an Assault and a Battery?

Oftentimes a person will say one has been “assaulted” when touched by another, but such is an incorrect term under Florida law for an actual touching. Basically, not to oversimplify things, but if you are punched, then you have been battered. However, if someone swings and misses you, then you have been assaulted. Knowing it is never wise to oversimplify the law, though, let us look at this in a deeper light.

What is Battery?

Battery is defined as an intentional touching of another against the recipient’s will. Whether the battery is a misdemeanor or felony will depend upon a number of factors, such as the level of damage done, whether a deadly weapon was used, the area touched, the age of the victim, or even one’s prior history. For example, if a person has a prior misdemeanor battery on one’s record, and commits what would normally be another misdemeanor battery, the second battery can be waived up to a felony battery based upon the prior underlying conviction. Of course, touching an individual in a lewd or lascivious manner, regardless of whether there is sexual penetration, is also defined as a battery sort of offense, such as capital sexual battery if the victim is 12 years old or younger and the defendant is 18 years or older. A victim’s age, in and of itself, can turn what would otherwise be a misdemeanor battery into a felony, such as battering an individual who is 65 years of age or older. And, of course, if you use a firearm in the commission of the battery, then it is an aggravated battery, punishable by up to life in prison per Florida’s 10-20-Life gun laws.

What is Assault?

Assault, on the other hand, is defined as intentionally and unlawfully threatening, either by word or act, to do violence to the victim, and at the time of the assault, appears to have the ability to carry out the threat, resulting in the victim having a well-founded fear that violence is about to take place. In other words, it is a long worded way of saying if you swing at someone and miss, then you committed an assault. Of course, whether the assault is a misdemeanor or felony will also vary based upon the specific facts of the case. For example, pulling a gun on someone can be prosecuted as an aggravated assault, with a mandatory prison sentence per Florida Statute 775.087.

Oftentimes the injury is obvious following a battery, but it is possible to have a battery with no visible bruising, as such is particularly common with misdemeanor domestic violence offenses, such as a slap, a pushing or shoving offense, etc. With an assault, however, it is common to have no visible signs of injury or bruising, though one will often alternatively look for signs of mental distress, anguish, etc.

Contact a Panama City Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you, or someone you know, has been accused of assault or battery, regardless of the level of the offense, contact my office immediately. These are crimes of violence, ones which will have a stigma that will affect the rest of your life. Call today before it is too late to undo the damage to your future.