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Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer

Florida vigorously prosecutes people alleged to have acted violently towards law enforcement officers.

And the crime of Battery on Law Enforcement Officer imposes heightened penalties on civilians who batter law enforcement officers who are carrying out their public duties.

If accused of Battery on Law Enforcement Officer, you need to know the:

Definition of Battery on Law Enforcement Officer

Under Florida Statute 784.07(2), the crime of Battery on Law Enforcement Officer occurs when a person:

  1. Intentionally strikes or touches a law enforcement officer;
  2. While the law enforcement officer was engaged in the lawful execution of a legal duty.

Penalties for Battery on Law Enforcement Officer

Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer is classified as a Third Degree Felony and is assigned a Level 4 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer, a judge is required to adjudicate you guilty and can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to five (5) years in prison.
  • Up to five (5) years of probation.
  • Up to $5,000 in fines.

Defenses to Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer

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

  1. "On the Job",
  2. Self Defense, or
  3. Officer's Status Unknown

On The Job

A conviction for Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer requires proof that the officer was “engaged in the performance of a lawful duty when the battery occurred,” not just “on the job.” [1]

This requirement means that even if a uniformed law enforcement officer is working off duty for a bar, convenience store, as mall security, or for any private employer, they are merely “on the job” for the private employer and are not afforded enhanced protection under the statute if they should be struck while working for the private employer. [2]

However, if while working for a private employer, they become engaged in “activities of an official police nature,” such as breaking up a fight, escorting a trespasser of the premises, or arresting someone, a person who then batters the officer is subject to being convicted of Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer.

Self Defense

The use of force against an officer who is effectuating an arrest is unlawful regardless of whether the arrest is technically illegal.

However, apart from an arrest scenario, a person is authorized to use reasonable force to defend themselves against other unlawful actions committed by law enforcement officers. [3]

Examples of unlawful actions that a person may defend against are:

  • Unlawfully entering a private home;
  • Unlawfully frisking a person; or
  • Unlawfully detaining someone.

Nevertheless, regardless of whether an officer is engaged in unlawful activity, a person who uses force against an officer does so at his own risk; as the State Attorney's Office will usually err on the side of the law enforcement officer when filing charges.

Excessive Force

If an officer uses excessive force when making an arrest, a person is justified in the use of reasonable force to defend himself or herself.

Additionally, the danger of excessive force or police brutality need not have been actual to justify a self-defense claim. In such instances, you are allowed to defend yourself if the appearance of excessive force or police brutality appeared to be imminent.

However, a person can only defend themselves to the extent reasonably believed that such force was necessary. And the determination of whether the resistance with violence was justified is based upon the circumstances at the time.

Officer's Status Unknown

While a person is not justified in using force to resist a police officer who is "known, or reasonably appears to be a law enforcement officer." A person accused of Battery on Law Enforcement Officer must have reason to know that the "victim" was actually an officer and not someone impersonating an officer.

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Battery on Law Enforcement Officer in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando metropolitan 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.

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