What Are the Consequences of Assaulting a Police Officer?
In most cases, assault in Florida is a second-degree misdemeanor. If you are charged with assault in or near the Fort Lauderdale area, now or in the future, you must be advised and represented by a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney, and you must contact that attorney immediately.
Battery and assault are separate, distinct crimes in Florida. Assault happens when someone makes a threat that causes a victim to fear imminent harm. Assault requires no physical contact. When someone makes intentional, unwanted physical contact with a victim, the charge is battery.
While battery and assault are distinct and separate offenses in this state, in some cases, a suspect may be charged with both assault and battery if a threat (an assault) was followed with intentional, unwanted physical contact (battery).
But what is the charge when assault or battery is committed against a law enforcement officer in this state? How can you legally defend yourself if you are charged with assault or battery against a police officer, and when should you contact a Fort Lauderdale assault and battery lawyer?
What Are Florida’s Assault and Battery Laws?
Prosecutors in Florida may file one or more of these five charges against a defendant who has been accused of assault and/or battery in this state:
- Simple assault in Florida is typically charged as a second-degree misdemeanor that can be penalized upon conviction with jail time and a fine.
- Aggravated assault is usually charged as a third-degree felony that may be penalized upon conviction with a substantial fine and a number of years in prison.
- Simple battery is typically charged as a first-degree misdemeanor that may be penalized upon conviction with jail time and a fine.
- Felony battery is usually charged as a third-degree felony that may be penalized upon conviction with a substantial fine and a number of years in prison.
- Aggravated battery is usually charged as a second-degree felony that may be penalized upon conviction with up to fifteen years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The law in Florida also allows a prosecutor to request harsher penalties for a defendant who has previous felony convictions or a defendant deemed by the court to be a career criminal. Penalties are also harsher when an assault or battery has been committed against a police officer.
Who is Defined as a Police Officer in Florida? Who Receives Similar Legal Protection?
The FBI reports that in 2020, more than 60,000 police officers in the United States were victims of assault or battery. Under the law in Florida, the following persons are either considered police officers, or they receive the same legal protection against assault and battery as police officers:
- all local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, correctional officers, law enforcement investigators, and parking enforcement officers
- Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission employees, Florida Department of Environmental Protection employees, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement employees
- firefighters, emergency medical care providers, public transit workers (such as train operators and bus drivers), and security officers working on college campuses
What Are the Penalties for Assault or Battery on a Police Officer?
In Florida, simple assault on a law enforcement officer is a first-degree misdemeanor that may be penalized on conviction with a fine and a prison sentence. Battery on a police officer in Florida is a third-degree felony punishable on conviction with years in prison and a substantial fine.
Aggravated assault on a police officer is a second-degree felony. A conviction is punishable with up to fifteen years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Aggravated battery on a police officer is a first-degree felony punishable on conviction with up to three decades in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Additionally, upon conviction, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer in Florida carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison, and aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer in this state carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.
How Will a Defense Lawyer Help You?
Several defenses may be available to a suspect who is charged with assault or battery on a law enforcement officer. For example, the law in Florida allows someone to act in self-defense if a law enforcement officer uses excessive force, but the law does not permit anyone to resist arrest.
Another defense is incidental or unintended touching, which could happen if:
- Someone acted to avoid harm or injury.
- Someone acted to defend against an attack from a third party.
- Someone moved but did not intend to make contact with anyone.
- Someone’s actions or movements were involuntary pain reflexes.
A Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney may also seek to have an assault or battery against a police officer charge reduced by arguing that the defendant was not aware that the purported victim was a law enforcement officer (or subject to the same legal protection as a police officer).
What Are Your Rights?
If the police arrest you and you are charged with battery and/or assault, it is crucial to exercise your right to remain silent as well as your right to have an attorney represent you. You cannot be forced to say anything to police officers.
If law enforcement officers ask to interrogate you, you can say something like “I would rather not answer your questions until my attorney can be present,” and then say nothing more. You’ll also need to contact a Fort Lauderdale assault and battery lawyer at your very first opportunity.
Why Should You Choose George Reres Law?
If you are charged in South Florida with assault and/or battery, immediately contact the award-winning attorneys at George Reres Law. Our team will protect your legal rights, fight for your freedom and for the justice you need, and bring your case to its best possible conclusion.
A criminal defense lawyer at George Reres Law will review the state’s case against you and develop an effective defense. Your lawyer will then work to have the case dropped or dismissed, negotiate an acceptable plea deal, or fight on your behalf before a jury for a not guilty verdict.
If you are charged with assault and/or battery in the Fort Lauderdale area or anywhere in South Florida – now or in the future – contact George Reres Law as quickly as possible. Call our offices at 954-543-1186 to schedule an in-depth, no-cost, no-obligation evaluation of your case.