The terms Assault and Battery are defined differently in different states, so it’s common for there to be some confusion about what each term means. If you threaten to hit someone, that is assault. If you physically hit someone, that is battery.
My name is Tim Flaherty. I’ve been a Destin assault and battery defense attorney since 2001. Brandy Merrifield is my partner. We defend locals, vacationers, and military service members accused of Assault or Battery. Criminal Defense is the only type of law we practice.
Call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 460-7470 and let Brandy and I get to work protecting you from an Assault or Battery conviction.
Is Assault or Battery a misdemeanor or a felony?
Assault or Battery offenses are usually charged as a misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor under Florida law is between 60 days and 1 year in jail.
There are some situations where an Assault or Battery charge can be filed as a felony. Some examples would be Aggravated Battery, Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and Battery on Law Enforcement.
How will you defend me if I am charged with Assault or Battery in Destin?
Brandy and I work very hard to build customized defenses for our clients. A cookie-cutter approach is not enough. We will want to sit down with you and get the full details of what happened. The following is a list of some of the issues we will explore:
- We will carefully examine the discovery information in your case. This includes witness statements, body cam videos, and law enforcement incident reports.
- Brandy and I will talk to the victim to find out if they intend to press charges. If they tell us they want to drop charges, we will help facilitate that. If they say they want to continue with pressing charges, we will start preparing for trial.
- As part of our review of the discovery evidence, we will be looking to see whether self-defense is an option.
- Even if we don’t think the case will go that far, we will prepare for trial. The prosecutor needs to know that we are going to do everything possible to get the case dismissed, negotiated down to a favorable outcome, or won at trial.
- In cases where the State won’t dismiss the case, but our client doesn’t want to go to trial, we will look into whether pretrial diversion is an option. Pretrial Diversion is an agreement that guarantees your case will be dismissed if you complete the conditions that we negotiate.
Examples of Assault and Battery charges in Destin
Here are the most common Assault or Battery charges we defend in Destin:
According to Florida Statute 784.03, Battery is committed when a person “actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other or intentionally causes bodily harm to the other person.”
The prosecutor doesn’t have to prove that anyone was injured in order to convict someone of battery.A simple example of battery is hitting someone during a fight. The State is not required to prove any injury was suffered in order to charge someone with Battery. Other examples include grabbing an arm, spitting on someone, or throwing an object at a person. Other common examples during tourist season include bar fights and scuffles on the beach.
Destin Battery charges are a first degree misdemeanor punishable by 1 year in jail and a $1000.00 fine. If convicted, you will likely be required to serve a term on probation with anger management counseling, and a no contact order with the victim.
Florida Statute 784.045 defines Aggravated Battery as a battery that is committed with a deadly weapon or is committed against a person that the defendant knew or should have known was pregnant.
The maximum penalty for Aggravated Battery is 15 years in State prison. Aggravated Battery is a level 7 offense (56 points) under Florida sentencing guidelines. If you are convicted, a level 7 offense scores out to a minimum sentence of 21 months in prison. There are also sentencing enhancements based on the victim’s injuries that can add points to the scoresheet. If those enhancements are added, here is how the sentence would be calculated:
No Injury Points: 56 points – 28 = 28. 28 x 0.75 = 21 months in prison.
Slight Injury: 56 + 4 injury points = 60. 60 – 28 = 32. 32 x 0.75 = 24 months in prison.
Moderate Injury: 56 + 18 injury points = 74. 74 – 28 = 46. 46 x 0.75 = 34.5 months in prison.
Severe Injury: 56 + 40 injury points = 96. 96 – 28 = 68. 68 x 0.75 = 51 months in prison.
For more information about Florida’s sentencing guidelines, click.
The prosecutor must prove the following elements, pursuant to Florida Statute 784.07, beyond a reasonable doubt:
- Defendant intentionally touched or struck the victim against their will or caused bodily harm to the victim.
- The victim was a law enforcement officer.
- The defendant knew the victim was a law enforcement officer.
- The officer was engaged in the lawful performance of their duties when the battery was committed.
Obviously a police officer is the most common example of a law enforcement officer, but under the statute, there are several other classes of law enforcement officer, including:
- Emergency Medical Care Provider
- Traffic Accident Investigation Officer
- Security Officers employed by a college
- Federal Law Enforcement Officers
The maximum penalty for Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer is five years in prison. If you are convicted, the Judge is not allowed to suspend the sentence or withhold adjudication. There are only three ways to avoid this terrible outcome:
- Leverage the prosecutor into dismissing the case by raising doubts about their ability to prove their case.
- Negotiate a plea to a reduced charge to allows for pretrial diversion or a withhold of adjudication.
- Win the case at trial.
Assault is defined in Florida Statue 784.011 as “an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.”
Felony Aggravated Assault in Destin
Florida Statue 784.021 defines aggravated assault as a more serious form of assault, usually using a deadly weapon (gun, knife, vehicle, hammer, etc.). Aggravated Assault is a 3rd degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Maximum Assault and Battery Penalties by Charge
A table outlining various Florida assault and battery charges as well as their maximum penalties.
|Charge||Statute||Misdemeanor or Felony||Degree||Maximum Penalty|
|Simple Battery / Misdemeanor Battery||784.03(2)||M||1st||1 year jail and $1,000 fine|
|Simple Assault||784.011||M||2nd||60 days jail and $500 fine|
|Domestic Violence||741.28||M||1st||1 year jail and $1,000 fine|
|Aggravated Assault with a Weapon or Firearm||784.045(1)(b)||F||3rd||5 years prison and $5,000 fine|
|Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer||784.07(2)(b)||F||3rd||5 years prison and $5,000 fine|
|Domestic Violence by Strangulation||784.041(2)(a)||F||3rd||5 years prison and $5,000 fine|
|False Imprisonment||787.02(2)||F||3rd||5 years prison and $5,000 fine|
|Child Abuse||827.03(2)(c)||F||3rd||5 years prison and $5,000 fine|
|Battery on the Elderly||784.08||F||3rd||5 years prison and $5,000 fine|
|Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person||784.045(1)(b)||F||2nd||15 year prison and $10,000 fine|
|Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon||784.045(1)(a)1||F||2nd||15 year prison and $10,000 fine|
|Aggravated Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer||784.07(2)(d)||F||1st||30 years prison and $10,000 fine|
|Burglary with Battery||810.02(2)(a)||F||1st||Punishable by Life in prison and $15,000 fine|
Contact a Destin Assault and Battery Attorney
If you or a loved one have been charged with assault and battery in Destin, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.