What Is the Difference Between Aggravated Assault and Domestic Violence?

The laws surrounding domestic violence are convoluted, and there is rarely time to go over the gritty details. Keep reading for a guide to defining domestic violence and aggravated assault.

What Is Assault?

The definition of assault is not always straightforward. In general, assault is inflicting bodily injury on someone else, but the setting and circumstances surrounding the assault may drastically change your case.

Simple assault refers to the following situations:

  • An individual knowingly and purposefully inflicts harm on another person
  • An individual attempts to physically threaten someone with bodily harm

Most simple assault cases are punishable by a fine and a jail sentence. Assault can become a more serious offense depending on the evidence.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault is different from simple assault because of an “aggravating factor.”

An aggravating factor can be a weapon or it may be the nature of the relationship between the victim and the abuser. Some relationships are protected, like the one between a doctor and a patient. If a doctor or health care professional assaults a patient, the court may view the act as aggravated assault.

Intent also plays a significant role in aggravated assault cases. If someone hits another person on the street just for the sake of it, there is no intention beyond the intent to hurt. However, if someone assaults a person with the intent to rape or rob, the charges will likely be elevated to aggravated assault.

These cases are also felonies, meaning a conviction for aggravated assault could result in a prison sentence instead of time in jail and a fine.

Domestic Violence

An aggravated assault is elevated to a domestic violence offense if committed against the following:

  • Current or former spouse
  • Children
  • Parent
  • Grandparent
  • Significant other
  • Adopted children

Bodily harm is considered domestic violence if it occurs in a “domestic” setting. In addition to threats and bodily harm via a weapon, domestic violence can also be used to describe the following:

  • Sexual assault
  • Stalking
  • Kidnapping
  • False imprisonment
  • Battery

If the crime results in the physical injury or death of a family or household member, it will generally be considered domestic violence.

Domestic violence includes a wider variety of criminal acts than simple or aggravated assault. As mentioned in the previous section, setting and intent make all the difference when it comes to prosecuting a case.

Myths About Domestic Abuse

It’s important to understand that domestic abuse and assault doesn’t only happen to women and that the aggressor can be of any age. In fact, 1,801 aggravated assault arrests in 2018 were cases involving juveniles.

Many people also assume that domestic violence culminates in assault with a firearm, but statistics suggest that this is not always the case. Firearms are used in less than 4% of domestic violence cases.

What to Do if You Are Accused of Domestic Violence

Relationships that lead to domestic violence often include a long history of abusive behavior. Florida aggressively punishes domestic violence, and those wrongly accused could find themselves behind bars.

Domestic violence cases involve a meticulous evaluation of  relationship history and family relationships. The judge will evaluate the case and determine whether the alleged offender will be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Some domestic violence cases, like those that involve molestation of a minor, can result in life behind bars.

However, there are several additional factors that could change the outcome of the case. For example, the judge finds that the spouses involved in the domestic violence case are in the middle of a divorce. It may be clear that one party is using these accusations to gain physical custody of the children during divorce. If this is the case, and there is no evidence to suggest domestic violence, it’s unlikely that the judge will proceed with the case.

The best thing you can do if you’re accused of domestic violence or assault is to speak to an attorney. Contact The Law Offices of Phillip T. Ridolfo, Jr. for help.


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