In the state of Florida, Florida’s Assault and Battery Law supplements domestic violence law. The difference is significant however because even though assault and battery are very specific in the crimes they cover, domestic violence is a specialized form of both in that the penalties are even more severe and the consequences are much more serious.
Assault, Battery, and Domestic Violence
As defined by Florida Statute 784.011: 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 violence is imminent. A person who commits assault is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree.
In simpler terms, if a person attempts to punch another person with his fist and misses, it is an assault.
As defined by Florida Statute 784.021: aggravated assault is an assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill; or with intent to commit a felony. A person who commits aggravated assault is guilty of a felony of the third degree.
For example, a person who points a gun at someone and threatens to shoot but refrains from shooting is committing aggravated assault.
According to Florida Statute 784.03: battery is defined as actually and intentionally touching or striking another person against his or her will; or intentionally causing bodily harm to another. A person who commits battery is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor.
So the difference between assault and battery is that if the person who is threatening to punch another person actually strikes the person, it is now battery and not assault.
Aggravated battery according to Florida Statute: 784.045 is when a person commits battery and uses a deadly weapon. So in our scenario we have been using, if the person who points a gun at another actually fires and injures the victim, it is aggravated battery (not assault or aggravated assault).
According to Florida law, domestic violence means any assault or battery, aggravated assault or battery, sexual assault or battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.
Domestic violence is under the umbrella of each of these 4 statutes but the difference is the severity in the penalties. Either the prison sentence is longer, or the restrictions after release are more severe, or some other situation that the judge deems necessary.
In any case, if you have been accused of committing domestic violence, you need assistance in understanding exactly what kind of sentence you could be looking at if convicted. It is important to contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately after your arrest. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to intervene and help you salvage the case by having you enroll in an anger management program or a violence prevention program. Contact a West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer and learn more about your rights.