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Battery Charges in Florida

Florida has several types of battery crimes:

  1. Misdemeanor Battery,
  2. Domestic Battery by Strangulation,
  3. Domestic Violence Battery,
  4. Felony Battery,
  5. Aggravated Battery, and
  6. Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person.

Additionally, Florida reclassifies certain battery crimes depending on the status of the victim. If a battery is reclassified, a person is subject to a greater penalty.

Misdemeanor Battery (Simple Battery)

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

  1. Intentionally touches or strikes another person against their will; or
  2. 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.

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:

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

Reclassification of Battery Charge

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 officer, 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 if 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. Additionally, any person convicted of aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer shall be sentenced to a minimum 5 years in prison.

Defenses to Battery

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

  1. Consent,
  2. Insufficient Intent,
  3. Self Defense.

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.

Mutual Combat

While not sanctioned as a legal defense, mutual combat is a theory that can be argued to a jury as a sub-category of the defense of consent. Essentially, the theory goes, if two people mutually engage in a fight (usually a bar brawl) neither person should be able to complain of the ensuing contact.

Insufficient Intent

The intent to commit a battery is determined by the circumstances surrounding the touching or the striking of the victim. [1]

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. [2]
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. [3]

Self Defense

Self defense, also known as the justified use of force, is a defense to the crime of battery so long as you use non-deadly force to defend yourself against another person's unlawful attack.

Please visit the Self Defense Information section for more information on this defense.

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of misdemeanor Battery in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando area, contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.

References

  1. Beard v. State, 842 So. 2d 174 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003)
  2. Bonge v. State, 53 So. 3d 1231 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011)
  3. CB v. State, 810 So. 2d 1072 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002)