Simple assault is synonymous with misdemeanor assault in Florida. What is it? It is an intentional and illegal threat of violence from one individual to another. The intent is to create a legitimate fear that harm or violence is imminent.
Section 784.011 of the Florida Statues provides the definition of simple assault. In Florida, simple assault is a misdemeanor. According to the statute, an assault takes place when an individual, by word or act, makes an intentional threat to commit violence towards another person, has the apparent ability to carry out the threat, and does some act which creates a well-founded fear in the other person that such violence is imminent.
How Do They Prove Assault at Trial?
To prove that an assault has taken place, there has to be a trial. The State will have to establish three things factually beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The person being accused made an intentional threat, by word or act, to cause violence against the plaintiff;
- When the person made the threat, they had the ability to carry it out; and
- The threat made the victim fearful that violence was about to occur.
What are the Penalties for Simple Assault?
Simple assault is a second degree misdemeanor. You can be sentenced to up to 60 days in jail or up to 6 months of probation, and a fine of up to $500.
The intent requirement is not about the intent to commit an act of violence. Instead, the State must prove that the individual meant to act in a way that was intended to put the victim in fear of violence.
It doesn’t matter whether the individual actually planned to carry out the violence.
No Physical Contact is Required
In Florida, you don’t even have to lay a finger on someone to get penalized for assault. If you brandish a gun or hold a knife in front of someone, that is still classified as assault.
Overt Act Required
An assault can’t just be words. An individual also has to engage in an overt act making the victim’s fear of actual violence reasonable.
So, someone who did nothing besides threatening to harm a person cannot be convicted of assault unless there was an overt act that went along with the threat that made the person fearful that violence could occur.
Simple Assault Defenses
Simple assault is a defensible charge. It is a very subjective offense, there are no physical injuries, and there are usually disputes about how the threat actually occurred. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular defenses.
- No real fear on the part of the victim;
- Stand Your Ground;
- Defending your home;
- The victim provoked the defendant;
- Idle threat with no real intention of carrying it out;
- False accusations;
- No ability to carry out the threat
You Need an Attorney
What is Simple Battery / Misdemeanor Battery in Florida?
In Florida, simple battery (also called misdemeanor battery) is a misdemeanor, and the penalty can include jail time, probation, and a fine of up to $1,000. You could spend one year in jail if convicted. Simple battery is a charge commonly defended in the Miami Dade County court system. A competent lawyer can mount a number of defenses. In many scenarios you likely need an attorney to steer clear of serious consequences.
What is Simple Battery?
According to Section 784.03 of the Florida Statues, simple battery is defined as the following:
- Any striking or touching of an individual that was intentional (and non-consensual), or
- You intended and caused physical harm to another individual
If nothing else is going on (use of a weapon, serious injury, or domestic abuse), the crime is just referred to as misdemeanor battery.
There Must be Intent
In order for a simple battery charge to stick, there has to be intent. In order for it to be considered a crime, there has to be a distinct act or something that is fairly certain to result from it. The defendant has to intend to touch the person.
So, an accidental contact that is harmless and incidental, cannot bring about a battery charge. The jury must determine if the defendant had the necessary intent.
Consent and Combat
In cases of “mutual combat”, where you have two people who consent to a fight, you can mount a defense against a battery charge. Both people must have assented to a fight beforehand. “Mutual combat” is a recognized defense against battery.
A jury will establish consent, and they examine everything to make a determination as to whether there was actual mutual consent.
No Injury Requirement
You don’t have to injure the victim for a misdemeanor battery charge to stick. Just intentionally touching someone against their will is all you need for a battery charge to stick. The touching must be against the alleged victim’s will.
Simple Battery Penalties
You could get up to a year in jail, or probation for up to one year. This is a unique type of misdemeanor. Unlike many other misdemeanors, a prosecutor will frequently seek a jail sentence or probation sentence. There are some cases of battery which qualify for a first-time offender program.
Misdemeanor Battery Defenses
Battery is a very defensible charge. Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly used defenses:
- Property Defense
- Defense of someone else
- Mutual Combat
- Accidental Touching
- Lack of Evidence
- Stand Your Ground
Get in Touch With an Attorney
Our attorneys are committed to your defense. We will fight hard to get your case dismissed. If the State insists on prosecution, we will look at every legal defense available to fight the charge or minimize the penalty. If you have been accused of simple battery, contact us today for a free consultation at one of our offices.