Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person in Florida

In Florida, the crime of Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person is defined as the intentional and unlawful touching of a person known to be pregnant against their will. [1]

Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person is a unique crime, because it is deemed an aggravated crime simply because of the condition of the victim, regardless of whether any injury was actually inflicted on the person. [2]

This unique nature 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.

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 pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific defenses to the crime of Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person are:

  1. Consent,
  2. Insufficient Intent,
  3. Lack of Knowledge of Pregnancy, and
  4. 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.

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. [3]

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 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. [4]
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. [5]

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

Self defense, also known as the justified use of force, is a 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.

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

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Person in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando area, contact Criminal Defense Lawyer 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. Florida Statute 784.045(1)(b)
  2. Alvarado v. State, 9 So. 3d 1273 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009)
  3. Beard v. State, 842 So. 2d 174 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003)
  4. Bonge v. State, 53 So. 3d 1231 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011)
  5. CB v. State, 810 So. 2d 1072 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002)