Simple Assault vs. Simple Battery in Florida

Florida law distinguishes between simple assault and simple battery. The state also enhances the penalties for individuals who have acted against certain special victims. In today’s blog, we will discuss the elements of both kinds of offenses, as well as the penalties and sentencing for each charge.

Simple Assault and Battery in Florida

In Florida, an assault is intentional threats, words, or actions that cause another person to fear impending violence. Battery, on the other hand, is actual offensive physical contact, such as punching another person or hitting someone with an object. Be aware that for an act to be considered simple assault or battery under the law, the act of threatening another or striking another must be intentional, rather than an accident. However, the intent to act does not have to include a specific intent to injure the other person.

Special Victims

Assault or battery against certain victims could face penalties beyond the standard punishment. The “special victims” identified by Florida’s assault and battery statutes are those who were engaged in the performance of their duties as a:

  • law enforcement officer or firefighter;
  • emergency medical care provider;
  • public transport employee;
  • breath test operator, while engaged in testing persons under investigation for driving while intoxicated;
  • parking enforcement officer;
  • licensed security officer;
  • employee at a detention or commitment facility for sexually violent offenders, if the defendant knew or had reason to know the victim’s employment status; and
  • code inspectors, if the offender knew or had reason to know the victim’s employment status.

Additional special victims could include:

  • employees or investigators for the Children and Family Services Department (if the offender knew or had reason to know the person’s employment status);
  • a person over the age of 65 years of age (the offender does not need to be aware of the age);
  • sports officials, while participating in a sporting event or immediately after the event;
  • school employees or elected officials (if the defendant knew or had reason to know of the person’s employment status); and
  • visitors or detainees in a jail or correctional facility (if the offender is a detainee of the jail or correctional facility).

Penalties and Additional Sentencing

Simple assault in Florida is considered a second degree misdemeanor punishable by the following:

  • up to 60 days in jail;
  • a fine up to $500;
  • probation for up to 60 days; and
  • restitution.

Individuals convicted of simple battery or simple assault against a special victim will face a first degree misdemeanor that carries:

  • up to 1 year in jail;
  • a fine up to $1,000;
  • probation for up to 1 year; and
  • restitution.

Battery against a special victim constitutes a third degree felony punishable by:

  • up to 5 years in prison;
  • a fine up to $5,000;
  • probation for up to 5 years; and
  • restitution.

Be aware that if a defendant convicted of assault or battery has a criminal record, particularly prior assault or battery convictions, any of the sentences above may be lengthened.

Depending on the severity of the case, the court can decide to impose probation instead of jail time for the entire sentence or after the defendant has spent some time in jail. A person on probation must meet regularly with a probation officer and comply with the conditions set by the court, such as:

  • avoiding further arrests or convictions;
  • attending counseling;
  • performing community service; or
  • electronic home detention (commonly known as “house arrest”).

Note that under electronic home detention, the person on probation wears an electronic monitoring device or ankle bracelet and usually is restricted to home and work. If a person violates a condition of probation, they can be arrested and required to serve the remainder or a remaining part of their sentence in jail.

A person convicted of assault or battery in Florida is also required to pay restitution, which reimburses the alleged victim for any expenses resulting from the crime, such as the cost of medical treatment or counseling. The court may elect not to require restitution only in very unusual situations and for compelling reasons.

Let Attorney Phillip T. Ridolfo, Jr. Help!

If you are facing an assault or battery charge in Florida, it is best to work with an experienced attorney who can investigate your case and determine if you were wrongfully charged. Your lawyer could negotiate with the prosecutors to let the defendant plead guilty to a different, less serious crime or agree to a lighter sentence, such as probation.

A misdemeanor or felony conviction will stay on your permanent criminal record, which can seriously impact your life, as a criminal record, even a misdemeanor conviction, can hurt you when you are looking for a job or applying to rent an apartment. Convicted felons also lose the right to vote, hold public office, serve as a juror for up to 7 years, and carry or own firearms. As a result, it is critical that you enlist the help of a good attorney to fight your charge.

Let The Law Offices of Phillip T. Ridolfo, Jr. take a look at your case. Schedule your free consultation today!


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