In Florida, the crime of Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person is defined by Florida Statute 784.045(1)(b) as the intentional and unlawful touching of a person known to be pregnant against their will.
Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person is a unique crime, largely because it is deemed an aggravated crime simply based on the condition of the victim — regardless of whether any injury was actually inflicted on the person. [Alvarado v. State, 9 So. 3d 1273 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009)]
The unique nature of this charge can lead to absurd results; as simply grabbing a pregnant person’s arm can result in a 21 month prison sentence.
It is for this reason that a person charged with Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person should retain highly effective counsel.
Criminal Penalties for Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person
In Florida, the crime of Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person is classified as a Second Degree Felony punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in prison, fifteen (15) years of probation, and a $10,000 fine.
Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person is assigned a Level 7 offense severity ranking under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code and, absent grounds for a downward departure sentence, a judge is required to sentence a person convicted of Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person to a minimum sentence of 21 months in prison, but may also sentence the person up to fifteen years in prison.
Defenses to Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person
In addition to the typical pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be brought up in any criminal case, specific defenses to the crime of Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person are:
- Insufficient Intent
- Lack of Knowledge of Pregnancy
- Self Defense
Since an element of Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person is that the contact be non-consensual, consent to the contact is an obvious defense. Other examples where consent would be applicable as a defense are athletic events.
While not often used as a legal defense, mutual combat is an idea that can be argued to a jury as a form of consent. Essentially, if two people mutually engage in a fight (like an altercation at a sporting event) neither person should be able to complain of the ensuing contact.
The intent to commit a battery is determined by the circumstances surrounding the touching or the striking of the victim. [Beard v. State, 842 So. 2d 174 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003)]
As with simple battery, there are rare circumstances where intentional, non-consensual touching of a pregnant person will not rise to the level of criminal battery. Reported examples of such insufficient intent are:
- Assistance: If a person is attempting to assist a pregnant person, even if the pregnant person does not want assistance, the act of touching the pregnant person to assist them will not be considered criminal battery. [Bonge v. State, 53 So. 3d 1231 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011)]
- Throwing a tantrum: If a child (or adult) throws a tantrum and inadvertently hits a pregnant person, either by throwing an item or by flailing a body part around, the inadvertent contact will not be considered criminal battery under most circumstances. [CB v. State, 810 So. 2d 1072 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002)]
Lack of Knowledge of Pregnancy
Since an element of Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person is that you “knew or should have known” the victim was pregnant, it is a defense to the crime of Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person if it can be shown that either you did not know she was pregnant or you had no reason to have known she was pregnant.
If a jury finds that you did not know or should not have known the victim was pregnant, then you can only be convicted of misdemeanor battery.
Self defense, commonly referred to as the justified use of force, is a commonly used defense to the crime of Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person so long as non-deadly force was used to defend yourself against the pregnant person’s unlawful attack.
Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Mary Elizabeth Fletcher Immediately
If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person in Southwest Florida or the Fort Myers, Cape Coral, or Naples areas, contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Mary Elizabeth Fletcher today. We offer free initial consultations and are always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken. Simply send us a message online or give us a call at (239) 677-7685.