Many people do not know or understand the difference between assault and battery. Assault is a threat to do harm, while battery causes physical harm. If you threaten to hit someone you have committed assault. If you actually hit them, a battery has been committed.
My name is Tim Flaherty. Since 2001, I have been defending clients accused of assault or battery in Okaloosa County. If you have been charged with assault or battery, my partner, Brandy Merrifield, and I are ready to help you. Criminal Defense is our only area of practice.
Protect yourself and let our experienced Okaloosa County assault and battery defense lawyers fight to keep a conviction from going on your permanent criminal record. Call us at (850) 243-6097 to schedule a free consultation.
Overview of Assault and Battery in Okaloosa County
Battery and Assault are both misdemeanor offenses punishable by 60 days-1 year in jail and a $500-$1000.00 fine. A conviction for either charge will also result in a 3 year revocation of your ability to possess or own a firearm, pursuant to the Lautenberg Amendment under Federal law.
Depending on the circumstances, battery and assault charges can also be filed as a felony. Common examples include Aggravated Battery, Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and Battery on Law Enforcement.
Assault and Battery charges for Military Members in Okaloosa County
We are blessed to have a large military presence here in Okaloosa County. When service members get in trouble, it is important that your attorney understand the unique challenges that you face in your military career if you are convicted in civilian court.
If you are a member of the military stationed at Eglin AFB, Duke Field, or Hurlburt Field, an Assault or Battery conviction could be career-ending. A conviction could also affect your ability to keep your security clearance. This applies to both military members as well as civilian contractors with a security clearance.
You have dedicated your life to defending our freedom. If you entrust us with your defense, it would be our honor to defend you.
Defending Assault or Battery charges in Okaloosa County
When we meet to talk about your case, we will ask you for a detailed account of what happened. We have years of experience developing customized defenses that fit the specific circumstances of our clients’ cases. Here is a summary of a few things we’ll be looking at:
- We will look at the elements of the charge to see if the State has sufficient evidence to prove their case.
- We will review all police reports, witness statements, and video evidence
- We will contact the alleged victim to get their side of the story and to see if they will sign a drop-charge request. The State can proceed with prosecution even if the alleged victim doesn’t want to press charges. However, if we can get a drop-charge request from the alleged victim, we will use that to pressure the State into dismissing the case or agreeing to a lesser charge.
- We will review whether self defense or defense of others is a viable defense.
- We will prepare your case for trial. When the prosecutor knows that we aren’t afraid to go to trial, they are more likely to dismiss the case or reduce to a lesser charge.
- We will explore plea offers and pretrial diversion options that either keep a conviction off your record or result in your case getting dismissed altogether.
Whether your Assault or Battery charge is a misdemeanor or felony, we know this is very serious for you. At Flaherty & Merrifield, there is no such thing as a “small” case. Rest assured that your case will be handled professionally.
Misdemeanor and Felony Assault and Battery charges in Okaloosa County
There are many different variations of assault and battery, but the following lists the most common charges we regularly defend in Okaloosa County:
Florida Statute 784.03 defines Battery as:
“The offense of battery occurs 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.”
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.
Battery in Okaloosa County is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail, 1 year of probation, and a $1000.00 fine.
Aggravated Battery is defined by Florida Statute 784.045 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.
Aggravated Battery is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in State prison. Under Florida sentencing guidelines, this is a level 7 offense (56 points) which means you face a minimum sentence of 21 months in prison if you are convicted. The State can also add enhancements to your sentencing points based on the victim’s level of injury. In that situation, your minimum sentence would be calculated as follows:
- 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 here.
Prosecutors need police officers on their side in order to prove cases in court, so when an officer is allegedly hit, the State of Florida takes it very seriously. They will band together with the police to make an example out of the person who has been accused.
According to Florida Statute 784.07, there are four elements the State must prove in order to convict someone of Battery on a Law Enforcement Officers:
- 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.
Police officers are the most common example of a law enforcement officer, but the following are also protected under this statute:
- Emergency Medical Care Provider
- Traffic Accident Investigation Officer
- Parking Enforcement Officers
- Security Officers employed by a college
- Railroad Special Officers
- Federal Law Enforcement Officers
Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer is a 3rd degree felony with a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $5000.00 fine. This charge is also one where the Judge does not have the legal authority to suspend your sentence or give you a withhold of adjudication. That means that if you plead guilty as charged, you will be a convicted felon.
There are only 2 ways to avoid this: leverage the State into dismissing the case or reducing it to a lesser offense, or going to trial and winning.
Florida Statue 784.011 defines assault 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.”
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|
Call an Okaloosa County Assault and Battery Attorney
If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime in Fort Walton Beach, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 for a free, confidential case review.