Is There a Difference Between Assault & Battery in Florida?

You may not recall where you first heard it, but you’ve likely heard “assault and battery” uttered as a phrase referring to a single crime. In Florida, assault and battery are actually two separate criminal offenses that someone may commit together, but they are not necessarily linked in every instance.

Although assault and battery are different offenses, they share a few things in common. For one, they are both considered violent crimes. They also begin as serious misdemeanors, but aggravating circumstances could lead to felony charges. Lastly, you don’t want to be charged with either – let alone both in tandem.

What Is Assault?

Assault sounds like a purely physical offense, but it’s a lot more than that. In fact, assault tends to have more to do with imposing the threat of violence than it does with carrying it out. When you’re charged with assault, the state is responsible for proving three elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

These include the following:

  • You intentionally and unlawfully threatened, by word or act, to inflict violence on the alleged victim.
  • You appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat at the time it was made.
  • The threat caused the alleged victim to form a well-founded fear that violence was about to occur.

Surely, assault can involve physical violence; but as you can see above, this offense has far more to do with the threat you allegedly made, your ability to follow through on it, and the alleged victim’s perception of the alleged threat.

What Is Battery?

Battery is the criminal offense of intentionally touching or striking someone against their will and/or causing them bodily harm. This definition is a lot broader than people expect because it can apply to virtually any kind of unwanted body-to-body contact between people, even if the contact doesn’t cause physical injury.

Battery can occur on its own, but it may also follow an act of assault. If someone states an intention to touch someone inappropriately and proceeds to do so, they can be charged with both assault and battery. More commonly, though, people who use “fighting words” before throwing a punch or committing some other act of violence can be charged with both assault and battery.


Although assault and battery are two separate crimes, they can be charged together under the “right” circumstances. The severity of the possible penalties one can face depends on these circumstances, but they can be as severe as multiple years in prison. If you are facing assault and/or battery charges, it’s crucial to seek legal counsel that can help you mitigate your responsibility for these allegations.

We at Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A. provide the representation people in Florida need to seek better outcomes when facing criminal charges. Our team of criminal defense lawyers includes both seasoned trial lawyers and former prosecutors who well understand how the system works and how to increase your odds of achieving a favorable outcome.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, request a consultation with Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A. when you contact us online today.