Battery

   

Florida has several types of battery crimes:

  • Misdemeanor Battery
  • Domestic Battery by Strangulation
  • Domestic Violence Battery
  • Felony Battery
  • Aggravated Battery
  • Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person

Additionally, Florida will reclassify certain battery crimes depending on the status of the victim (e.g. if they are elderly, if they are a Law Enforcement Officer, etc.). If a battery is reclassified, a person is subject to a greater penalty.

If you have been arrested for assault or battery, you are probably in shock. As soon as possible, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer and begin preparing for your case.

Misdemeanor Battery (Simple Battery)

Under Florida Statute 784.03, the crime of misdemeanor battery is committed when a person either:

  • Intentionally touches or strikes another person against their will; or
  • Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.

As you can see, a battery can occur from something minor, such as grabbing another person’s arm; or a battery could also occur by throwing something that strikes another person.

Importantly though, when it comes to touching or striking a person, there is no requirement that the person be injured – the non-consensual contact is sufficient.

The Penalties for Battery

The crime of Battery is a First Degree Misdemeanor and, if convicted of Battery, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

Misdemeanor Battery:

  • Up to one (1) year in jail
  • Up to one (1) year of probation
  • Up to $1,000 in fines

First-degree Felony:

  • Up to 30 years in prison (with a minimum of five if the offense is against a police officer)
  • Monetary fine of up to $10,000
  • Probation (up to 30 years)
  • Restitution to the victim of any expenses that resulted from the assault and battery

Second-degree Felony:

  • Up to 15 years in prison (with a minimum of three if the offense is against a police officer)
  • Monetary fine of up to $10,000
  • Probation (up to 15 years)
  • Restitution to the victim of any expenses that resulted from the assault and battery

Third-degree Felony:

  • Up to five years in prison
  • Monetary fine of up to $5,000
  • Probation (up to five years)
  • Restitution to the victim of any expenses that resulted from the assault and battery

Reclassification of Battery Charges

Florida reclassifies (or, upgrades) the crime of battery if the battered person falls into one of the following categories and was engaged in the lawful performance of his or her duty when they were battered.

  • Emergency Medical Care Provider: This category includes ambulance drivers, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, registered nurses, and physicians.
  • Firefighter: This category, while self explanatory, also includes any person who works for the state putting out fires.
  • Law Enforcement Officer: This category includes law enforcement officers, correctional officers, probation officers, federal law enforcement officers, and Fish and Wildlife Officers.

If the person you are accused of battering falls into one of these categories, the battery charge can be reclassified as follows:

  • Battery: Reclassified from a First Degree Misdemeanor to a Third Degree Felony
  • Aggravated Battery: From a Second Degree Felony to a First Degree Felony.

Any person convicted of aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer shall be sentenced to a minimum 5 years in prison.

Additionally, battery on an elderly person is a third degree felony in the State of Florida (784.08). In Florida, it is considered a battery in the third degree to push, smack, or injure any person over the age of 65 if the person committing the assault knows that the victim is indeed over the age of 65. The law does allow for stranger confrontations whereas the arrested person does not realize the person is 65 or over but, unfortunately, with full knowledge the maximum punishment is often applied. Battery on an elderly individual could yield up to five years imprisonment in a state penitentiary for simply pushing the elderly person. A judge could impose fines and 500 hours of community service along with criminal charges.

Common Defenses to Battery

Many people mistakenly think that the police will get both sides of a story before charging someone with a crime. That is not true. The police will collect information from the complainant and investigate the case until they have enough evidence to file charges. You will need someone to tell your side of the story even before the state decides to file charges.

As your lawyer, Mary Elizabeth Fletcher can hire investigators and obtain witness statements to tell your side of the story. There are unique circumstances in every assault or battery case that Ms. Fletcher can discuss with you.

In addition to the typical pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific defenses to the crime of Battery are:

  • Consent (or Mutual Combat)
  • Insufficient Intent
  • Self Defense

Consent

Since an element of battery is that the contact be non-consensual, consent to the contact is an obvious defense. Other examples where consent would be applicable are athletic events.

Insufficient Intent

As such, there are rare circumstances where intentional, non-consensual touching will not rise to the level of criminal battery. Reported examples of such insufficient intent are:

  • Assistance: If a person is attempting to assist someone, even if that person does not want assistance, the act of touching the 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 someone, 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)]

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)]

Consent (Mutual Combat)

While not technically sanctioned as a legal defense, “mutual combat” is a theory that can be argued to a jury as a subcategory of the consent defense. Essentially, if two people mutually engage in a fight (e.g. a bar brawl) neither person should be able to complain of the ensuing contact.

Contact Fort Myers Criminal Defense Attorney Mary Elizabeth Fletcher

At The Law Offices of Mary Elizabeth Fletcher, we are here to defend you if you are facing a battery charge. We represent people who have been charged with assault and battery in fights at bars, amusement parks, sports facilities or private homes in Fort Myers and other communities in Southwest Florida. To schedule a free case review contact us online or call (239) 677-7685.