Under Florida law, assault and battery are two separate actions that are tried differently in court, though they are often linked together. Assault and battery are intentional torts, meaning that it is a wrong that was intentionally caused by a person or persons, resulting in damage to another.
Assault is a threat to inflict injury by someone who is capable of hurting you, whereas battery is when actual violent physical contact is made. Unlike other personal injury cases that are caused by accident (slip and fall, dog bites, car accidents, etc), assault and battery are intentional. The person inflicting the injury is fully aware of what he or she is doing. Battery and assault usually stem from one another, but it is possible for assault to occur without battery and vice versa.
If you are a victim of assault and/or battery in Florida, you can file a personal injury claim against your attacker and receive a compensation for the damage caused. You can also press charges, so that the person will face criminal consequences.
Florida’s Legal Definition of Assault
Florida law statutes define assault is a threat to inflict injury by someone who is capable of fulfilling the threat. Aggravated assault occurs when the accused has a weapon which is used to threaten the victim. For example, if someone threatens you while holding you at gunpoint, but does not fire the gun, it is considered aggravated assault.
When you file a claim against someone for assault, you must prove that the person demonstrated a clear intent to harm you in some way, thus evoking fear or apprehension. As long as there is a serious threat and you have a reasonable cause to believe that you are in danger of imminent injury, it is considered assault. You do not need to provide any evidence of unwanted violent physical contact.
In defense, the accused may declare that the threat was merely a joke or a prank and that there was no criminal intent. Your lawyer must provide evidence that the accused actually meant to carry out the threat and demonstrated the same through a gesture or words.
Florida’s Legal Definition of Battery
Intentionally inflicting injury on another person is considered as battery, according to Florida law. Aggravated battery involves using a deadly weapon to inflict injury on another person or causing an extreme injury, like permanent disability, loss of eyesight, or death, for example.
Battery can take many forms. To illustrate, if you are walking on the street and someone comes up from behind you and injures you before mugging you, it is considered battery. Battery can also be as simple as someone pushing you on purpose. An example of battery, combined with assault, is when someone threatens you to get your money and then goes on to gravely injure you with a weapon.
To file a claim for battery, you must prove that the assailant attempted to and intended to physically harm you. The physical contact that caused injury can be direct or indirect. For example, if the offender attempts to injure you with a stick or by throwing a rock, it is indirect contact; if the offender injures you by kicking, slapping, or other such violent actions, then it is considered direct contact. However, if the injury was caused unintentionally or by accident, it does not count as battery. Battery must be intentional and also includes crimes like rape and molestation.
Further, you do not necessarily have to be gravely injured to file a claim for battery. After being attacked, you may or may not have suffered serious injuries. Battery charges only require you to prove that the assailant attacked you and attempted to injure you.
In some cases, the accuser consents to the event that caused the injury, so it is not battery. For example, in sports like wrestling and boxing, the players are aware that they are going to be injured and consent to it. In such a case, you cannot file a claim for battery unless the accused breaks the rules of the game with the intention of causing injury. An example might be using a weapon to cause serious injury in wrestling match where weapons are not permitted.
To prove battery, you don’t need evidence of initial apprehension. The assailant could have attacked you out of the blue. In such a case, you can file a suit for battery but not for assault.
Assault and Battery as Criminal and Civil Cases in Florida
Assault and battery cases may be brought to court under Florida criminal law as well as civil law. Criminal cases have a greater burden of proof than civil cases. In a criminal case, the individual accused of assault and/or battery can be penalized for his illegal actions by the court. Separate from the criminal case, a civil or personal injury suit may be filed to force the accused to financially compensate his or her victim for the injuries that they caused.
It is important to know that in Florida, each of these cases are regarded as separate and distinct. The outcome of the criminal case will in no way affect the civil suit and vice versa. If the accused is declared not-guilty in the criminal suit, it does not mean that you cannot file a civil suit and prevail in it.
Has You or Someone You Loved Been a Victim of Assault and/or Battery?
If you or a loved one have been subjected to threats, actual physical harm, or both, then you may have a strong personal injury case and would be wise to hire an experienced personal injury attorney. In some cases, the assailant may threaten you against taking legal action, but you should not give in to these threats. You must gather all available evidence to prove your case and be prepared for any defenses that the accused may present. The defendant may claim that the injury was caused by accident and that it was not intended, so every piece of evidence that you can collect is important.
The injuries from battery can be very severe and may even lead to death, whereas assault can cause extreme stress, fear, and apprehension. In a successful assault and battery case, the accused will have to compensate for any damage that was caused, including medical bills, lost wages, and the cost of therapy that the victim might need in traumatic cases. Apart from this, you can also claim punitive damages, which is monetary compensation greater than the amount of losses suffered, intended to punish the individual who harmed you and deter them from committing future crimes of a similar nature.
Contact a skilled Miami, FL personal injury lawyer at Madalon Law to learn more about your case and how we can help you recover compensation for your physical and psychological injuries and damages.