Difference between Assault, Battery, and Domestic Violence in Florida

June 14, 2020 Domestic Violence, Violent Crimes

violent crime attorney tallahassee

What is the Difference between Assault, Battery, and Domestic Violence in Florida?

Assault, Battery and crimes of domestic violence are crimes which are commonly mistaken for one another and mixed up. They have very different meanings in the state of Florida, and if you have been accused of one of these crimes, it is important to understand exactly what the state is alleging.


Assault in the state of Florida is either a physical or a verbal threat to harm another. There must be an “apparent ability” to carry out the threat and it must create a well-founded fear in the victim that the violence is imminent. Assault is often thought of as hitting or striking someone, but in the Florida criminal justice system no actual contact needs to be made. A verbal threat or swinging at someone without making contact can be enough to satisfy a charge of Assault.

Assault is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable with up to $500 in fines and up to 60 days in jail. There are some circumstances where the penalty can be much higher or have further sentencing obligations, such as aggravated assault and domestic violence assault.

Aggravated Assault

If assault is committed with a deadly weapon, or with the intent to commit any felony, the assault is charged as aggravated assault, and becomes a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies in Florida are subject to up to five years in Department of Corrections custody (usually prison) and up to a $5,000 fine.  The entire charge changes if actually striking an individual though.


The charge of Battery in the state of Florida is what most people refer to as “assault.” A battery occurs in two ways. The first way is by intentionally striking another person against their will. The second way is to intentionally cause bodily harm to another. Battery is a first-degree misdemeanor, subject to up to a year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. If a person is convicted or pleads guilty to battery with a prior battery on their record, the charge becomes a third-degree felony, just as with aggravated assault, this carries up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. Similar to Assault, a separate crime of aggravated battery also exists when the allegations are particularly severe.

Aggravated Battery

Aggravated battery requires first an underlining battery offense, but then one of three facts to be present. The perpetrator “intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement;” utilizes a “deadly weapon;” or the victim is pregnant at the time and the defendant knew or should have known that was the case. This results in up to fifteen years in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine.

Felony Battery and Domestic Battery by Strangulation

If a person strikes another on purpose, does not intend to cause great bodily harm, disability or permanent disfigurement, but nevertheless causes it, that can be charged as Felony Battery. Similarly, a person commits Domestic Battery by Strangulation by knowing and intentionally (without permission) strangling a family member, or an intimate partner. Both crimes are third-degree felonies, carrying up to five years in prison and $5,000 or less in fines. Any violent crime can be charged as domestic violence, including Domestic Battery by Strangulation, this creates a mandatory minimum sentence and shifts the way the courts deal with the case.

Domestic Violence in Florida

Domestic Violence is defined by Florida Statutes 741.28.  Domestic violence occurs when there is a crime committed against a domestic partner.

First, a between the perpetrator and the victim must exist they must be living together, have lived together, or have a child together. If they do not have a child together, they must be: spouses, former spouses, related by blood, related by marriage, residing together as if a family, or have resided together in the past as if a family.

A full list of possible domestic violence charges are: Assault, Aggravated Assault, Battery, Aggravated Battery, Sexual Assault, Sexual Battery, Stalking, Aggravated Stalking, Kidnapping, False Imprisonment, or any other criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death.

All of the previous mentioned crimes CAN be domestic violence, and charging it as such shifts things a bit. A mandatory minimum jail sentence is added, and a protection order will be put in place to limit your activity and communication with the victim. The only way to avoid these minimum jail sentences are to be sentenced to prison or beat the charges through trial or dismissal.

Defenses to Violent Crime Charges

If accused of any of these crimes, or another domestic violence charge, it is important to speak to a qualified criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the case and pursue possible defenses. There are many defenses available, but some of the most common are:

  • Self-Defense
  • Accident
  • Mutual Combat
  • Consent
  • Defense of other
  • Stand Your Ground
  • Vague Threats
  • Conditional Threats
  • Mutual Dispute

Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me

Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have decades of experience representing individuals accused of assault, battery and domestic violence. They are dedicated to defending the rights of clients in any circumstance and will fight for the best possible result. Call a Tallahassee Assault Attorney today at (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today to discuss your rights during an open and free consultation with a defense attorney in our legal team.


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