Aggravated Assault and Aggravated Battery
The term “assault” is commonly used, but often misunderstood. Many believe that assault occurs when a person physically inflicts pain upon somebody else. Contrary to popular belief, assault is defined under Florida law as any threats, words or actions that causes a person to fear impending violence. Battery is the crime committed when physical violence actually occurs; threats and intimidation alone are considered to be assault. The word “aggravated” comes into play when some sort of a deadly weapon is involved in the conflict or when someone threatens to commit a felony. Aggravated Assault is a third degree felony, and Aggravated Battery is a second degree felony. To be considered aggravated assault, someone needs to make another person fear impending violence, even if there was no intent to actually cause them any pain. For example pointing a handgun at somebody, even without intending to ever discharge the weapon, is considered to be aggravated assault because a reasonable person would fear impending violence if a handgun was being pointed in their direction. The Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm have handled countless assault and battery cases, ranging widely in severity.
Under Florida law, for a confrontation to be considered aggravated assault, it must meet four criteria:
- The accused must have unlawfully threatened by word or act to commit violence to the alleged victim,
- The accused appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat,
- The accused’s threat created in the mind of the alleged victim a reasonable fear that violence was impending,
- The assault was committed with a deadly weapon or a fully conscious intent to commit a felony.
Threats can be scary and cause a victim psychological stress and trauma, even if violence was never inflicted, so the State of Florida takes assaults very seriously and treats them like the crimes they are. Battery is much more serious because it carries psychological trauma along with physical violence upon a victim. Under Florida law, to reach an aggravated battery conviction, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:
- Intentionally struck or touched the alleged victim against their will and/or intentionally caused them bodily harm
- In committing the battery, intentionally or knowingly (a) caused great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement or (b) used a deadly weapon.
- Battered a person whom the defendant knew or should have known was pregnant.
The definition of a “deadly weapon” varies with each case. In one Florida case, a woman was charged with Aggravated Battery because she broke a beer bottle over a man’s head, and the arresting officers classified the beer bottle as a deadly weapon because she intended to cause him great bodily harm in doing so, and the glass shards are sharp and dangerous, having the potential to cut his skin or eyes. Guns are most certainly considered to be deadly weapons, however they carry their own separate type of charge- Aggravated Assault or Battery with a Firearm. In another Florida case, a child had been stabbed in the back repeatedly by another child with a plastic fork. The State asserted that the fork was a deadly weapon, thus calling for an Aggravated Battery charge, however the court decided that the fork could not cause “great” bodily harm, and that the victim’s injuries were considered to be mild. The defendant was ultimately charged with simple battery because the State could not prove that he (a) intended to cause great bodily harm or disability/disfigurement and that (b) the fork used in battery was not considered to be a deadly weapon.
A common defense for an aggravated assault or battery charge is using Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws. As popularized in the case of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida in February of 2012. Trayvon, a teenager, was shot and killed by a man named George Zimmerman while he was walking home from the convenience store late one night. Despite the fact that Mr. Zimmerman admitted to shooting and killing Trayvon, he was found innocent because the defense had asserted that the two had gotten into a fight, and Mr. Zimmerman feared for his life, leaving him no choice but to use deadly force to subdue his attacker. Under Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws, an individual is allowed to use any means necessary, including deadly force, to subdue an attacker when he or she feels as though their life or well-being are threatened. The Broward County criminal defense attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm have defended clients charged with aggravated assault and battery by proving that the defendant’s life was in jeopardy. They’ve been in the business of defending the accused in a court of law in South Florida for over a decade now, and continue to raise the bar for criminal defense lawyers everywhere.
If you or a loved one were recently charged with Aggravated Assault or Battery, call The Ansara Law Firm at (945) 761-4011 immediately for quality legal representation in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.