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Assault and Battery in Florida – What’s the Difference?

Arrested for watching street race in Miami

You hear the term ‘assault and battery’ used frequently and may think that they are somehow stuck together, or they are just two different words used for the same sort of crime. In fact, in Florida, the two terms describe two separate but related criminal acts.

Someone can be accused of carrying out an assault on someone else, but it does not actually involve battery. Similarly, a battery may not involve a previous assault. On the other hand, an assault may also lead to a battery and the person who committed both may be convicted for the two offenses.

Confused? We’ll explain what the difference is between the two offenses and what sort of penalties might be imposed if convicted of either.


In Florida criminal law, an assault does not involve any physical contact between the perpetrator and the victim. It is a threat of violence against someone else, either because the threat is made in words, or by actions. The threat must be sufficient to make the victim feel afraid that an act of violence could harm them, even if nothing actually happens.

A typical example of grounds for assault is when someone rushes up to someone else brandishing a hammer and waving it around and shouting obscenities at them. As long as no actual physical contact is involved this might be considered a pretty serious assault but not battery.


In Florida law, battery involves unwanted physical contact or bodily harm. That contact might not actually harm the victim but even if it involves simply touching, as long as it wasn’t permitted or wanted, it could be classified as a battery.

Different degrees of assault and battery

Assault and battery are separately classified according to how serious or harmful they are. The classification is then used to define the crime committed and the possible penalties that could be imposed if there is a conviction.

Assaults are classified as simple, aggravated or felony assaults. Simple assaults are the least serious but are still second degree misdemeanors and a conviction could result in a jail sentence of up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500. Aggravated assault is a third degree felony with a jail sentence of up to 5 years and$5,000 in fines.

Battery, because it involves actual contact or physical harm, is definitely the more serious of the two, but is also classified into three separate degree of severity. Simple battery, in which only unwanted physical touching is involved, is a first degree misdemeanor with a potential 1 year jail sentence and $5,000 fine.

A felony battery is more serious and usually considered when the accused has previously been convicted of battery on a victim. Aggravated battery is the most serious offense and is usually charged when it is alleged that someone has been hurt badly or injured with a deadly weapon or object.

As with many alleged crimes, you are not guilty of an assault or battery crime unless prosecutors can prove guilt ‘beyond reasonable doubt.’ Miami criminal defense attorney, Albert Quirantes Esq., and his team of criminal defense lawyers, look at each case on its own merits and devise a defense strategy that exposes any weakness or inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case. Typical defenses for assault and / or battery include:

• self-defense: the defendant used a verbal or other threat or used violence when their own life was at threat of violence from another person;

• accident: the defendant was only joking when threatening the other person;

• lack of intent: prosecutors must be able to prove that the defendant was capable of carrying out the threat to harm someone else and intended to do so. This can be successfully refuted;

• defense of another person: a threat of violence or use of violence may have been justified because it was seriously thought that another person was harming or about to harm another third party;

• defense of property: defending personal property, especially the home.

Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer

For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.

Increase your knowledge! If you want to know more about how to resolve the problems you face when charged with a criminal offense in Florida, then you can follow Miami Criminal Attorney Albert M. Quirantes on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, please call us today at (305) 644-1800 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free, confidential initial consultation.

If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: (305) 644-1800 or visit our homepage for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.

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