Felony Battery in Florida

In Florida, the crime of Felony Battery is defined as intentionally touching or striking another person against their will and causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. [1]

The primary distinction between misdemeanor battery, felony battery, and aggravated battery is in the amount of harm that is inflicted.

While no injury is necessary for a misdemeanor battery to be committed; a significant injury must occur before Felony Battery can be charged.

Example: You hit another person and knock him out. So long as he does not suffer any lasting effects, you have committed a misdemeanor battery. But if you hit another person and break his nose, you can be charged with felony battery. (However, if there is no lasting injury to the nose, an argument can be made that only a misdemeanor battery was committed.)

Penalties for Felony Battery

In Florida, the crime of Felony Battery is classified as a Third Degree Felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison, five (5) years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.

Felony Battery is assigned a Level 6 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 Felony Battery to a minimum sentence of 19-36 months in prison, but may also impose a sentence up to the statutory maximum of five years in prison.

Defenses to Felony Battery

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 Felony Battery is that the contact was 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. [2] 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 disabled or elderly person, even if the disabled or elderly person does not want assistance, and the assistance results in the person falling and injuring themselves, the act of touching the disabled or elderly person to assist them will not be considered criminal battery. [3]
Throwing a Tantrum: If a child (or adult) throws a tantrum and inadvertently hits a person causing an injury, either by throwing an item or by flailing a body part around, the inadvertent contact will not be considered criminal battery because there was no specific intent to hit the person. [4]

Self Defense

Self defense, also known as the justified use of force, is a defense to the crime of Felony Battery so long as non-deadly force was used to defend yourself against the other 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 Felony Battery 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 784.041(1)
  2. Beard v. State, 842 So. 2d 174 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003)
  3. Bonge v. State, 53 So. 3d 1231 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011)
  4. CB v. State, 810 So. 2d 1072 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002)