Domestic violence can be assault or battery; domestic violence is just an act that is done against a spouse, a former spouse, an adult related by blood or marriage or even somebody who has a child in common.
An assault is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to another coupled with the ability to do so, creating fear that violence is imminent. For example, if somebody shows their fist and says, “I’m going to hit you” and take a swing at them, even if they miss, that is assault.
A verbal threat by itself can qualify as a domestic assault, as long as it is coupled with the ability to carry out the threat. For example, if someone says, “I’m going to punch you” and is close to you with his fists swinging your way, that is an assault. However, if someone says to you over the phone, “I am going to punch you and then I am taking the kids from you”, that by itself does not go to the level of domestic assault.
As for the definition of battery, this is the actual unlawful touching or striking of another person. In summary, an assault is just a threat (with the apparent ability to do so) of physical violence, whereas the battery is the actual hit or strike itself.
Simply put, an aggravated battery is a battery with either a deadly weapon or “great bodily harm”. You can be charged with an aggravated battery with a deadly weapon such as a bat, stick, firearm, or a knife. A battery can also be enhanced if the victim was pregnant and the defendant striking her, knew or should have known that she was pregnant. Finally, depending on the damage that is done to the victim, a battery can be enhanced to an aggravated one if the victim suffers severe injury, great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement.
Taking the example of a simple punch to explain the difference between battery and aggravated battery – if a person punches somebody in the cheek, that’s battery; if the person punches somebody in the cheek and it breaks their jaw and they had to go to the emergency room, because the act gave them great bodily harm, that is potentially an aggravated battery. With an aggravated battery, the charge goes from a third degree to second- degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison!
Aggravated assault is an assault with a deadly weapon. For example, if someone points a firearm at somebody threatening to shoot them, that is an aggravated assault and a very serious felony.
There are specific courtrooms in almost all the areas of Florida like Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and along the Gulf Coast of Florida that deal strictly with domestic violence. What makes a misdemeanor or felony domestic charge is both the allegations and the victim.
As mentioned before, if a person threatens to punch somebody, that’s an assault. If they actually punch somebody, that becomes a battery. If the defendant punches or hurts somebody they are living with, married to or have a child in common, that’s where it becomes domestic battery versus battery.
Under What Circumstances Can Assault And Battery Cases Result In Both Criminal And Civil Personal Injury Cases?
Every once in a while, attorneys get both criminal and civil cases coming from the same event. In a criminal case, once the charges are filed, the state of Florida is considered the victim in the case and they take over the prosecution. In civil cases, a victim can ask for an injunction against contact from the suspect as well as personally suing the defendant for injuries, both emotional and physical injuries. The victim can sue for actual monetary damages such as hospital bills etc.
Oftentimes, what most people don’t understand is just how active a prosecution the state takes. Additionally there is often alcohol or other factors involved in these incidents. An argument may occur between two people with the neighbors calling the police. Once the police are involved, they almost always make an arrest. The reason they make an arrest, even if there is no injury or the victim doesn’t want to prosecute, is because they would have liability if no arrest was made and the suspect ended up later hurting the victim. So, a simple push or a simple argument or a threat where people don’t think that’s big of a deal can often turn into something that’s going to be aggressively prosecuted even if the victim requests not to prosecute.
Domestic violence prosecutions are a little bit different than most other criminal offenses- the police and the prosecution take a very active or aggressive stance. They may go forward with the case whether or not the victim wants to cooperate.
What If Someone Wants To Retract A Statement Or Want To Drop The Charges? Is It Correct That It’s Pretty Much Out Of Their Hands At That Point?
That’s right. Technically the victim in the domestic violence is the state of Florida and not the person that’s actually the victim of the battery or the assault. That is the stance the prosecution and the police take. So even if the alleged victim recants their statement and denies ever being hit by the suspect, the prosecution still takes the stance for the victim as the state of Florida and they may aggressively go forward.
Many suspects assume they are safe because their spouse isn’t cooperating with the prosecution but that doesn’t necessarily mean the case will be dropped and it’s actually the contrary. The prosecutor’s still going to try and go forward with that case with whatever information he or she may have at the time.
For more information on Domestic Violence in Tampa Bay, Florida, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling the law office of Blake & Dorsten P.A. at (727) 286-6141 today.