Penalty for Assaulting a Police Officer in Florida

Penalty for Assaulting a Police Officer in Florida
Penalty for Assaulting a Police Officer

According to the FBI, more than 60,000 law enforcement officers experienced assault while performing their duties in 2020. While dealing with aggressive individuals and violent crimes is a part of the job, hefty penalties come with assaulting a police officer.

These penalties can range from a second-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. Read on to learn more about what criminal charges come with assaulting a police officer in Florida.

What’s Considered Assault or Battery on a Police Officer?

Assault and battery are not the same under the law. Battery is a more serious crime, as you will see below.

Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer

The crime of assault on a police officer includes three main elements:

  1. There was an intentional threat of violence (physical or verbal) on an officer by the accused
  2. There was an apparent or demonstrated ability by the accused to carry out the threat
  3. The possibility of the threat caused fear in the officer

All three elements must be present when the state pursues an assault on a law enforcement officer charge.

Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer

The crime of battery also includes three crucial elements:

  1. The defendant intentionally touched or hit an officer against their will, resulting in disfigurement or other great bodily harm
  2. The accused knew the alleged victim was a law enforcement officer
  3. The officer was performing lawful duties at the time of the offense

Again, all three elements must be present when the state pursues a battery on a law enforcement officer charge.

Who Is Classified as a Law Enforcement Officer Under This Law?

Florida Statute 784.07 outlines who a law enforcement officer is under the law. It includes:

  • Auxiliary law enforcement officers
  • Auxiliary correctional officers
  • Correctional officers (including part-time officers)
  • Correctional probation officers
  • Federal law enforcement officers
  • Ordinary law enforcement or police officers (including part-time officers)
  • Parking enforcement specialists
  • Personnel of:
    • The Department of Environmental Protection
    • The Department of Law Enforcement
    • The Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • Traffic accident investigation officers
  • Traffic infraction enforcement officers

Additionally, the statute protects other public workers, such as:

  • Emergency medical care providers
  • Firefighters
  • Law enforcement investigators
  • Public transit employees, like bus drivers and train operators
  • Security officers at community colleges

What Are the Penalties for Assaulting a Law Enforcement Officer?

The penalties for assaulting a law enforcement officer depend on whether the attack was:

  • An assault
  • Battery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Aggravated battery

Is Assaulting a Police Officer a Felony? 

The answer is often yes, but not always. Aggravated assault and battery have harsher penalties than assault, while aggravated battery has the most severe charges.

The charge becomes aggravated when the attack involves a deadly weapon, or the alleged victim suffers severe injuries.

Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer

A typical assault charge in Florida is a second-degree misdemeanor. The sentence is up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $500.

However, a conviction for assault on a law enforcement officer is a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalty is up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer

The standard punishment for a battery conviction is up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. The charge is a first-degree misdemeanor.

Battery on a law enforcement officer is a third-degree felony with a prison sentence of up to five years and a $5,000 fine.

Aggravated Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer

Aggravated assault has a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. In contrast, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer is a second-degree felony. If convicted, the defendant faces a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of $10,000.

Additionally, aggravated assault on a police officer in Florida carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison. Legally, the judge cannot sentence the defendant below the minimum; only the prosecutor can.

Aggravated Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer

The sentence for aggravated battery is up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The offense is a second-degree felony.

But aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer is a first-degree felony with a prison sentence of up to 30 years and a $10,000 fine.

Like an aggravated assault charge, aggravated battery on a police officer in Florida carries a mandatory minimum sentence. In this case, the required minimum is five years in prison.

Possible Defenses for Assault Charges

If you receive charges for assaulting a law enforcement officer, there are several defenses your criminal defense lawyer can use to get the court to lessen or drop the charges.

One example is excessive force. The law allows you to act forcefully in self-defense if an officer uses excessive force, even during a lawful arrest. However, the law does not allow you to resist arrest.

Another example is incidental touching or when your unintended actions caused you to make contact with an officer. Common scenarios include:

  • You intended your actions to avert self-harm, like when the officer slammed you into the ground
  • You intended to repel an attack from another party
  • You made a movement not intended to make contact with anyone

Further, your lawyer can argue your movements or actions were reflexive or involuntary due to a pain reflex.

Finally, a lawyer may also try to argue a lack of knowledge. The state must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you knew the alleged victim was a law enforcement officer. In a situation where an officer was working off-duty for a private employer, you may not know they are an officer unless they present themselves as such.

However, it’s important to note that according to J.A.S.R. v. State, as long as the officer performs lawful duties, someone can commit an offense against them. Conversely, if the off-duty officer is not engaging in legal responsibilities, no one can commit the crime against them.

Hire an Experienced Florida Attorney to Help

Assaulting a police officer in Florida can be a severe crime and lead to extensive prison time or fines.

If you’re facing an assault or battery on a law enforcement officer charge, get help now from the criminal defense attorneys at Mike G. Law. By scheduling a free consultation, you can learn how our Tampa, FL, law firm can help defend you in your criminal case.

Comments are closed.

Contact Mike G Now

* Complete all required fields

"*" indicates required fields

Name*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Contact Mike G Now

* Complete all required fields

"*" indicates required fields

Name*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Effective Defense from an AV Preeminent* Rated Former Prosecutor with more than 25 Years of Experience