Were you arrested for assault and battery?
Do you need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney? If so, contact The Morris Firm immediately, and we’ll provide the skilled and dedicated legal representation you need to fight the charges against you.
Assault is a violent crime in the state of Florida, and the penalties are harsh. If you get arrested, you should hire a Pensacola assault and battery attorney to help you prepare your case and create a strong defense.
The legal process is complicated and confusing. It’s something you shouldn’t navigate alone. A conviction can impact every area of your life and take away your freedom. When you hire us, we will fight vigorously to protect your rights and ensure you receive fair treatment throughout your case.
If you want to find out more about our legal services and how we can help, call us at (850) 503-2626 for a consultation.
The Difference Between Assault and Battery
Assault and battery often go together when referring to a criminal charge. However, they are two separate crimes. Following is the legal definition of each one, according to Florida laws.
Assault is the intentional act of threatening another person with physical harm, making the victim reasonably apprehensive of harm. It’s possible to get charged with assault even if physical violence never occurred.
For an assault to happen, it must include the following elements:
- Verbal or physical action
- Unlawful and intentional threat
- Promotes fear of harm in the victim
- The offender has the ability to harm the victim
Aggravated assault involves using a deadly weapon or intending to commit a felony.
Battery is the actual and intentional act of striking or touching another person against their will or intentionally causing them harm.
The following elements of battery must exist for battery to occur:
- The intention of causing harm to the victim
- Harmful or offensive act of physical contact
- The act happened without the victim’s consent
Aggravated battery involves intentionally touching someone else while intending to cause physical harm or using a deadly weapon.
Felony battery occurs when someone intentionally touches or strikes another person against their will, resulting in severe bodily harm, or carries out this act after a prior battery conviction.
Assault and Battery Penalties in Florida
Different penalties will be incurred depending on the type of assault or battery that occurred.
Third-Degree Felony for Aggravated Assault
- A maximum of five years in prison
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Five years of probation
There are victims known as “special victims” that could increase the charge of aggravated assault to a second-degree felony or an aggravated battery to a first-degree felony.
If any of the following were performing the duties of their job at the time of the assault and/or battery, they qualify as special victims:
- Emergency medical provider
- Law enforcement officer
- A person performing a breath test on an alleged offender
- Parking enforcement officer
- Licensed security officer
- Public transport employee
- Code inspector
- Detention or commitment facility employee for those that committed sexually violent crimes
The following people are also special victims even if they weren’t performing their job duties at the time of the assault and/or battery:
- Someone over sixty-five years old
- Investigator or employee of Children and Family Services
- A school employee or elected official
- Sports official
- Detainee or visitor at a jail or correctional facility
Second-Degree Felony for Aggravated Battery or Aggravated Assault Against a Special Victim
- Up to fifteen years in prison with at least three years if the victim was in law enforcement
- A maximum of a $10,000 fine
- Up to fifteen years of probation
First-Degree Felony for Aggravated Battery Against a Special Victim
- A maximum of thirty years in prison with a minimum of five years if the victim was a member of law enforcement
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- A maximum of thirty years of probation
Defenses Against Your Assault and Battery Charges
If you get charged with assault and battery, there are various defenses The Morris Firm might be able to use depending on the details of your case. Some common defenses include:
- Self-defense: You needed to use physical force against the victim to defend yourself from harm. It also applies to defending someone else.
- Intent: Proof of intent to commit the crime must exist for an assault and battery conviction.
- Stand Your Ground Law: You have the right to defend yourself or someone else by using force to prevent bodily harm or death.
- Unreasonable fear: The victim’s fear of physical harm by the alleged offender is due to imagination or paranoia and isn’t a valid claim.
- Idle threats: Threats that the perpetrator couldn’t possibly carry out, such as someone in a wheelchair threatening to hurt another.
What Should I Do If I Get Arrested?
It’s important to remember that you still have rights, even if you get arrested or charged with assault and battery. If anyone violates your rights during the legal process, your Pensacola assault and battery attorney could file a motion to dismiss the case.
Once a police officer places you under arrest, there are things you should and shouldn’t do to maintain your rights and protect yourself against incrimination or additional charges.
- Remain quiet – You might have heard of Miranda Rights. Under these rights, you have the right to remain silent. You don’t have to say anything to the arresting officer or other law enforcement members once you’re in jail. Even if you’re innocent, you could end up saying something that the prosecution could use against you later. The only thing you should say when you get arrested is that you want to hire an attorney.
- Treat everyone with respect – Police officers have a job to do. They can arrest you if they believe you committed a crime or witness you committing a crime. Don’t yell, give them attitude, or try to run away. Remain calm and treat them with respect.
- Stay calm – Anyone getting arrested could panic and do or say something that gets them into even more trouble. Try to remain calm and don’t let your emotions get the best of you. If you fight back against the arresting officer, that could lead to more problems for you when your case begins.
- Prevent an illegal search – The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from illegal searches and seizures. That means law enforcement isn’t allowed to search your property or take anything without a warrant. When an officer arrests you, they can search the immediate area around them, but can’t perform a more thorough search. If they pull you over in your vehicle or show up at your home without a search warrant, they can only attempt to locate accomplices or evidence plainly in sight.
- Hire a Pensacola assault & battery attorney – Your best shot at building a strong defense is hiring an experienced attorney from The Morris Firm. Public defenders are experienced but, are typically overworked and don’t have time to review every case they take thoroughly. You need an attorney with extensive resources and a legal team that will put their time and attention into defending you.
What to Expect if You’re Facing Assault and Battery Charges
After you get arrested and booked for assault and/or battery, there are steps within the criminal justice system you’ll have to go through. The Morris Firm will explain everything, so you understand the process and know what to expect.
If you weren’t able to post bond, you have to appear in front of the judge within 24 hours. During the appearance, the judge will inform you of the charges against you and advise you of your rights. They will then review the police reports and decide if they want to change the bond amount or release you.
If you decide to hire The Morris Firm to represent you, we will file a Notice of Appearance on your behalf. This notice will let the state know that you’re ready to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If you decide to plead guilty, the court will issue a punishment. The best option may be to plead not guilty, so we have enough time to prepare your case for trial.
We can file motions with the court to obtain copies of the evidence that the prosecution found or attempt to suppress evidence we believe law enforcement obtained illegally.
- Demand for Discovery: During any legal case, there’s a period of discovery where both the defense and prosecution requests evidence the other side found. While we’re reviewing the evidence sent to us by the prosecutor, we’ll attempt to invalidate it and create arguments we can use at your trial. We will also perform depositions of individuals who witnessed what happened to testify in court and back up our arguments.
- Pre-Trial Conference: During a pre-trial conference, both sides will discuss deadlines throughout the case. We’ll need to agree with the prosecution on the dates we want to complete specific steps that will ensure the case proceeds in a timely manner.
- Motion to Compel: If the state refuses to give us the evidence we requested, we can file a motion that forces them to provide it.
- Motion to Dismiss: If we believe the evidence against you isn’t sufficient and the prosecutor doesn’t have a strong case, we can file a motion for the judge to dismiss the case.
- Motion to Suppress: Any evidence that law enforcement obtained illegally could get suppressed during the trial if we file this motion.
- Motion in Limine: This motion doesn’t allow witnesses to talk about specific facts of the case during their testimony.
Choose The Morris Firm to Defend You Against Assault & Battery Charges
We offer case evaluations to all prospective clients. There’s no risk in speaking with our Pensacola assault and battery attorney about your situation to learn about your rights and determine if you want us to represent you.
We know how overwhelming it can be to face a criminal conviction. You might have a family to support and worry about what will happen to them if you have to serve time in jail. You could lose your job and primary source of income. Upon your release, finding gainful employment could be challenging. We’ll work hard to fight for your freedom.
Call us at (850) 503-2626 today to discuss your assault and battery case in Pensacola.