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Assault & Battery

What is Assault & Battery Defined

In Florida Assault and Battery are two separate crimes. A Battery is defined by F.S. 784.03 and an Assault is defined by F.S. §784.11.

Battery

A battery occurs when a defendant actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against their will, or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person. The definition of battery is very broad. Basically any intentional unwanted touching constitutes the offense of battery.

Common Defenses to Battery

One of the most common defenses to charge of battery is that the person was acting in self defense. Self defense is defined by Florida Statutes §776.012. Florida law says that a person can use reasonable force to defend themselves from others. If the defendant claims self defense he must present some evidence at trial that he was acting in self defense. If the defendant can present some evidence that he was acting in self defense at trial, then it is the prosecutors burden to proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not acting in self defense, or that the force was unreasonable. The claim of self defense is equally applicable to a defendant who was defending another person from harm.

Assault

Some defenses to the charge assault include that the words or threat were not to be taken literally, or as an act of violence (i.e. I’m going to kill you in soccer, is rarely meant to be a threat on a person’s life). Even if someone takes the defendant’s words as a threat, the defendant is not guilty of assault as long as he did not intend for them to be a threat of violence. Another defense to assault is that the victim was not scared. If the defendant made a threat that the victim did not believe was realistic, or was not threatened by, then the defendant is not guilty of assault. The final common defense to assault is the threat must be imminent, if the victim does not believe that the treat can be carried out right away, then a person did not commit the crime of assault.

Stand Your Ground

When Florida passed it’s Stand Your Ground law it eliminated a persons duty to retreat. At common law if a person felt he was in danger of harm there was a duty for that person to retreat before using force. However when Florida passed the Stand Your Ground law that person no longer had a duty to retreat, and he may “stand his ground” when using reasonable force.

The stand your ground laws allows a defendant to claim immunity from prosecution in certain situations under F.S. §776.032. This includes if the defendant was acting in self defense and using reasonable force. Stand your ground can be used in both Assault and Battery cases. If the court grants the defendant immunity the state will no longer be able to proceed with the prosecution, and the case will have to be dismissed.

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