The crime of battery can mean many things, ranging from a brief fistfight outside a bar to an attack with a baseball bat, knife or even a gun. Therefore, Florida law has different levels of punishment available to the judge depending on the particular circumstances of the case.
Battery is commonly known as assault, but those are two separate crimes. There are three levels of battery:
- Misdemeanor battery
- Felony battery
- Aggravated battery
At the misdemeanor level, a battery is a striking or touching of another person against that person’s will or the intentional harming of that person. Technically, any unwanted touching is an illegal battering, though you are unlikely to get arrested for something like a slap on the back or a light shove. Generally, someone accused of starting a hand-to-hand fight will be charged at this level, which is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
However, if you have a prior conviction for battery, the court will treat a second conviction as a third-degree felony. This increases the potential sentence to up to five years in prison and a potential fine of $5,000 per conviction, even if the facts in your second case are fairly minor.
If the police accuse someone of using a deadly weapon in a battery or causing someone else “great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement,” the prosecution will charge the accused person with aggravated battery. This is a second-degree felony carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison per offense.
Knowing exactly what you are charged with is an important step in preparing your defense strategy. So is finding a defense attorney who knows the law and what it takes to protect your rights.