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Miami Criminal Defense Attorney / Blog / General / How Does Assault Differ from Battery in Florida?

How Does Assault Differ from Battery in Florida?


You often hear the terms “assault” and “battery” used interchangeably when describing certain criminal acts. These are, however, two distinct types of crime under Florida law. Basically, an assault is when you intentionally and unlawfully threaten violence against another person. Assault also requires proof that the defendant (1) had the apparent ability to carry out their threat and (2) engaged in some act that created a well-founded fear in the victim that violence was imminent.

The critical thing to understand is that conviction for assault does not require the defendant to carry out the threat. Simply brandishing a weapon can be considered an assault even if it is never used. This is where battery comes into play. A battery, legally speaking, is when you actually and intentionally touch or strike another person against their will, or cause them bodily harm. So if you threaten to punch someone, and then you actually punch them, you could be charged with both assault and battery.

Simple assault and simple battery are both misdemeanors in Florida, which both carry up to 1 year in jail if convicted. However, if a deadly weapon–such as a firearm– is used to commit an assault or battery, or the victim sustained great bodily harm or permanent injury, prosecutors will likely charge the defendant with aggravated assault or aggravated battery, which are both felonies. Depending on the specific facts of the case, prosecutors may elect to pursue additional charges as well.

Florida Man Convicted of Kidnapping After Holding Knife to Owner of Storage Unit

For example, consider this 2023 case from the Florida Sixth District Court of Appeal. In Rojas v. State, prosecutors in Orange County charged a defendant with kidnapping and aggravated assault. The victim went to her storage unit to retrieve a television set. While she was inside the unit, the defendant entered, pulled out a knife and held it to the victim’s throat. The defendant told the victim he would stab her if she moved. The victim fought back, grabbed the knife, and eventually managed to escape from the storage unit.

The jury found the defendant guilty of kidnapping with the intent to “inflict bodily harm or terrorize” as well as aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. As the Sixth District explained in its order affirming the convictions, the defendant committed kidnapping because he “confined, abducted, or imprisoned” the victim against her will–in this case trapping her inside the storage unit. And he committed aggravated assault by holding a knife (a deadly weapon) to the victim’s throat while threatening her with bodily injury if she moved.

Contact Asilia Law Firm Today

Anytime a weapon may be involved with an alleged crime, the suspect is likely to face felony charges and the prospect of multiple years behind bars in a state prison. So you need to take such allegations seriously. An experienced Miami criminal defense attorney can review the State Attorney’s case against you and advise you of your options for seeking the best possible resolution. Contact Asilia Law Firm today to schedule an initial consultation.



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