Battery, Felony Battery and Aggravated Battery

Summary

A Battery (First Degree Misdemeanor) is when a person intentionally touches or strikes another person against their will, or when a person intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.  A person must intend to touch the other person, and not just do so accidentally.  The touching must be against the will of the other person (without consent to the touching).  Pushing, grabbing, hitting, slapping, or even spitting on someone intentionally and without consent, all constitute a battery.  A battery can become a Felony Battery (Third Degree Felony) if the person has a prior conviction for battery, or if the battery causes great bodily harm, or if the battery is domestic related and involves strangulation.  An Aggravated Battery (Second Degree Felony) is a battery in which the person intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, or it involves the use of a deadly weapon, or if the victim was known to be pregnant.

Florida Statutes

784.03 Battery; felony battery.—

(1)(a) The offense of battery occurs when a person:

1. Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or,

2. Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.

(b) Except as provided in subsection (2), a person who commits battery commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(2) A person who has one prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery, or felony battery and who commits any second or subsequent battery commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. For purposes of this subsection, “conviction” means a determination of guilt that is the result of a plea or a trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld or a plea of nolo contendere is entered.

784.041 Felony battery; domestic battery by strangulation.—

(1) A person commits felony battery if he or she:

(a) Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; and,

(b) Causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.

(2)(a) A person commits domestic battery by strangulation if the person knowingly and intentionally, against the will of another, impedes the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a family or household member or of a person with whom he or she is in a dating relationship, so as to create a risk of or cause great bodily harm by applying pressure on the throat or neck of the other person or by blocking the nose or mouth of the other person. This paragraph does not apply to any act of medical diagnosis, treatment, or prescription which is authorized under the laws of this state.

(b) As used in this subsection, the term:

1. “Family or household member” has the same meaning as in s. 741.28.

2. “Dating relationship” means a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.

(3) A person who commits felony battery or domestic battery by strangulation commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

784.045 Aggravated battery.—

(1)(a) A person commits aggravated battery who, in committing battery:

1. Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or,

2. Uses a deadly weapon.

(b) A person commits aggravated battery if the person who was the victim of the battery was pregnant at the time of the offense and the offender knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant.

(2) Whoever commits aggravated battery shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

Elements

To prove the crime of Battery, the State must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

1.  Defendant intentionally touched or struck victim against his or her will; or,

2.  Defendant intentionally caused bodily harm to victim.

To prove the crime of Felony Battery, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1.  Defendant actually and intentionally touched or struck victim against his or her will; and,
  2. Defendant caused victim great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.

To prove the crime of Domestic Battery by Strangulation, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1.  Defendant knowingly and intentionally impeded the normal breathing, circulation of the blood of victim against his or her will by applying pressure on the throat or neck of victim) or by blocking the nose or mouth of victim.
  2. In so doing, Defendant created a risk of great bodily harm to victim or caused great bodily harm to victim.
  3. Defendant was a family or household member of victim or in a dating relationship with victim.

Give as applicable.

“Family or household member” means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.  With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.

“Dating relationship” means a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.

To prove the crime of Aggravated Battery, the State must prove that a Battery was committed; and, Defendant in committing the battery either:

a. intentionally or knowingly caused great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement to victim; or,

b. used a deadly weapon. (A weapon is a “deadly weapon” if it is used or threatened to be used in a way likely to produce death or great bodily harm).

To prove the crime of Aggravated Battery (pregnant person), the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt.  The first element is a definition of battery.

  1.  Defendant intentionally touched or struck victim against her will or intentionally caused bodily harm to victim.
  2. Victim was pregnant at the time.
  3. Defendant in committing the battery knew or should have known that victim was pregnant.

Possible Penalties

Criminal charges are designated as varying degrees of misdemeanors and felonies, according to the Florida Criminal Code, Chapter 775 of the Florida Statutes.  Each offense is further categorized into levels according to an “Offense Severity Ranking Chart” and assigned a corresponding point value.  The points are calculated and form the basis for the guideline sentence that the court should impose, according to the Florida Criminal Punishment Code, Chapter 921 of the Florida Statutes.

The range of penalties that may be imposed for Battery, Felony Battery, and Aggravated Battery are:

Battery (First Degree Misdemeanor):

  1. Up to one year in jail;
  2. Up to one year of probation;
  3. Up to a $1,000 fine.

Felony Battery (Third Degree Felony/Level 6):

  1. Up to 5 years in prison;
  2. Up to 5 years of probation;
  3. Up to a $5,000 fine.

Aggravated Battery (Second Degree Felony/Level 7):

  1. Up to 15 years in prison;
  2. Up to 15 years of probation;
  3. Up to a $10,000 fine.

In addition, the court may order community service and classes/counseling, among other reasonable penalties, as part of the sentence.  The court and/or the laws of Florida may also require the suspension of your driver’s license and registration as a felon.

A person may also face secondary consequences due to a criminal sentence, such as deportation (if not a U.S. Citizen), the loss of civil rights (such as the right to vote, possess a firearm, or to serve on a jury), and the loss of employment and educational opportunities, among others.

If a firearm is used or if the alleged victim is a law enforcement officer, firefighter or EMT, or a person 65 years of age or over, then the offense may be reclassified to a higher class and may qualify for a minimum mandatory prison sentence, if convicted.

Aggravated Battery is a qualifying offense for a defendant to be sentenced as a Prison Releasee Reoffender (PRR).

If you are convicted you may not be able to seal or expunge your record.

Typical Defenses

A person can’t be sentenced and have penalties imposed if found not guilty or if the case is dropped or dismissed.  The law affords every accused person the right to due process; including the right to have the court prohibit or limit the use of evidence that was not lawfully or fairly obtained.  Ultimately, an accused has the right to be presumed innocent and to require, through a jury trial, that the government must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

In addition to the many Pre-Trial Motions and Defenses available in most criminal cases, a Battery, Felony Battery and Aggravated Battery have the following particular defenses.

Battery

Unintentional touching – if the touching is accidental, it is not a crime.

Consent – If the victim consents or engages in mutual combat, or otherwise agrees to participate in physical contact (such as sport), it is not a crime.

Felony Battery –

Lack of prior qualifying criminal history

Battery did not cause great bodily harm

Aggravated Battery –

Defendant did not intentionally or knowingly cause great bodily harm

Battery did not involve the use of a deadly weapon

Battery did not involve a pregnant person, or the person was not reasonably known to the defendant to have been pregnant.

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