By Jessica Travis on Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Fall has finally arrived. Nights will become longer, the wind will become stronger, and in the in the long month of October, things begin to get scary. With Halloween creeping upon the fall season, individuals start to indulge in horror and fright. The heart of these scares is best represented by spine-chilling haunted houses and frightening Halloween events. Many of the Halloween events that creep out during this season offer an array of haunted houses filled with employees in state-of-the-art freak costumes and monster make-up ready to jump out at patrons at any moment.
Cautiously walking through these terror-filled events is enough to keep anyone on edge. With monsters sneaking out around corners and frightening people left and right, an individual’s gut-reaction may be to defend themselves against these ghoulish creatures by any means necessary, including using physical force. However, although the mutants and fiends stirring up frights around the park can be terrifying, the real horror lies in the trouble that an individual can get in for assaulting one of these goons.
To understand the trouble an individual can get in for getting into a physical altercation with another, it is important to look at the laws in Florida that define assault and battery. Florida Statute §748.011 states that an assault “is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another…” if the threat creates a sense of a rational fear that the threat could be carried out immediately. FLA. STA. §748.011 (2014). The crime of assault is a Second Degree Misdemeanor and can be punishable up to sixty days in jail.
An assault charge should not be confused with a charge of battery. Although they both involve an act of violence, a battery offense is treated with a much harsher punishment. In Florida, a battery is committed when an individual “[a]ctually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person”. FLA. STAT. § 784.03 (2014). Unlike assault, which is a lesser misdemeanor offense, the crime of battery is treated as a First Degree Misdemeanor and is punishable up to one year in jail.
If the use of force is excessive in a battery case, an individual may be charged with a felony battery. This type of battery still involves “actually or intentionally” striking another, but the damage caused by a felony battery“[c]auses great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement”. FLA. STAT. § 784. 041 (2014). Because the force is excessive in a felony battery, the crime is classified as a Third Degree Felony and is punishable up to five years in prison.
With the explanations of assault and battery being defined through Florida statutes, the next step is to understand why an individual cannot react with physical force when they become scared during these haunted houses and spooky events. In order to declare self-defense in Florida, an individual must reasonably believe that the physical action is “necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force”. FLA. STAT. §776.012(1) (2014). Because a
person taking part in these spook-fests knows of the risks and scares involved before entering a haunted house or Halloween affair, there is no real imminent threat or reasonable fear that one of the ghouls will use unlawful force.
Therefore, when enjoying the thrills offered by the Halloween season, remember the laws discussed above. If you find the unfortunate shock of being charged with and assault or battery, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. By reaching out to a knowledgeable attorney with any problems or questions, the horrors that the law can have on an offender may be alleviated.