Knowledgeable Orlando Defense Lawyer Fights Assault and Battery Charges
Aggressive defense to allegations of threats and physical attacks
These days it seems that everyone is on edge and a simple disagreement can quickly escalate into a shouting match or a physical altercation. If you suddenly find yourself facing criminal charges after such an encounter, you need a focused lawyer who can capably protect your rights while resolving the situation. For more than 27 years, The Law Offices of Tad A. Yates, P.A. has helped clients in Orlando and vicinity obtain favorable outcomes in assault and battery cases. Mr. Yates is ready to help you achieve the best result possible, which can include the dropping of charges, a decision not to prosecute or a grant of probation or other lenient sentencing. If justice in your case requires a strong defense at trial, Mr. Yates has the skill and experience to fight for your vindication.
Florida law of assault and battery
It’s important to understand the distinction between assault, which is a credible threat of harm, and battery, which is offensive and unwelcome physical contact. Florida Statutes §784 defines the offenses as follows:
- Assault — This offense is “an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.” Simple assault as described above is a second degree misdemeanor.
- Aggravated assault — An assault is aggravated when committed “with a deadly weapon without intent to kill” or “with intent to commit a felony.” This offense is a third degree felony.
- Battery — A simple battery occurs when a person “actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other” or “intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.” A first offense is a first degree misdemeanor. If an offender has a prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery, or felony battery, the offense is a third degree felony.
- Aggravated battery — Battery is aggravated when it is done “intentionally or knowingly” and “causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement” or use of a deadly weapon. Aggravated battery, a second degree felony, also occurs if the offender “knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant.”
Assault and battery crimes are subject to enhancement based on the protected status of the victim, such as police officers or health service providers, or a pregnant or elderly person. Assault and battery can be a federal offense if the victim was a federal officer in performance of official duties. Assault and battery charges can also lay the groundwork for a civil lawsuit for personal injuries claimed by the victim. Note that Florida also has a separate statute, §741.28, criminalizing domestic battery.
Assault and battery defenses in Florida
Persons accused of assault and battery may have several viable defenses, including:
- Conditional threats — A defendant may claim that the threat to do violence was contingent on the alleged victim doing something and therefore was not “imminent.” For example, a father who tells a menacing individual, “If you lay one hand on my daughter, I will beat you unconscious,” is only threatening violence if there is a battery to the child.
- Idle threats — To qualify as assault, a threat must seem real and the person making it must have the “apparent ability” to carry it out. When a person who is confined to a wheelchair threatens to beat someone up, there’s no reason to take it seriously. Threats that are obvious jokes also fall into this category.
- Unreasonable fear — The law says the assault victim’s fear must be “well-founded.” If the victim simply lets his imagination run wild or is suffering from paranoia, there is no assault.
- Self-defense — Every innocent person has the right of reasonable self-defense. In Florida, people under threat can stand their ground, meaning they do not have to retreat before they’re allowed to lawfully defend themselves. However, a person claiming self-defense must have a reasonable fear, cannot be the aggressor and must cease to defend himself once the threat has abated.
If your defense succeeds and the prosecutor drops the charges or you are acquitted at trial, your criminal defense attorney can then take further steps to seal or expunge the record of your arrest.
Contact knowledgeable defense attorney in Orlando for a consultation
Conviction of assault and battery can damage your reputation, compromise your freedom and expose you to civil liability for another person’s injuries. If you face such charges, call The Law Offices of Tad A. Yates, P.A. at 407-608-7777 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.