Florida Statute 784.03 - Battery
Simple Battery, under Florida State law, is the intentional touching or striking of another person or intentionally causing bodily harm to another individual.
Differences Between Assault & Battery Charges in Florida
Simple Assault - Simple assault is intentionally of unlawfully threatening violence upon another person, either by word or act. Simple Assault requires that a person has the ability to carry out the threat of violence at the time the threat is made. A conviction for Simple Assault does not require any actual harm to the alleged victim.
Aggravated Assault - Aggravated Assault is more serious than simple assault, because it's carried out involving the threat of a deadly weapon or when intending to commit a felony.
Simple Battery – Already described above, Simple Battery goes beyond a simple assault and includes intentionally making physical contact with a person without their consent, or if one intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.
Aggravated Battery – Simple Battery becomes an "Aggravated Battery" if during the battery, the offender purposely causes "great bodily harm", permanent disability or disfigurement, or employs a deadly weapon. An offender's battery charge is automatically converted to "Aggravated Battery" if the victim was pregnant when the battery occurred and the offender knew or should have been reasonably aware that the victim was pregnant. Great bodily harm is any harm that is more serious than minor harm (minor bruises, cuts, and scrapes), and includes situations such as profuse bleeding that require stitches, broken bones, and surgery-level injuries.
Felony Battery - If a battery results in great bodily harm or permanent disability/disfigurement to the victim, the offender has committed a felony battery, regardless of whether the offender intended to cause injury to this extent.
Florida Penalties for Committing Battery
If you're found guilty of committing a battery, there are several possibilities when the judge in your case sentences you.
Simple Battery - A first-degree misdemeanor, carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in the county jail and up to a $1000 fine. However, penalties for a battery charge against a "special victim", a third-degree felony, can result in up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. When an offender is charged for a second time with battery, the charge may be "enhanced" to a third-degree felony battery and can result in up to 5 years of imprisonment, a fine of up to $5000, and possible restitution.
Felony Battery – A third-degree felony, carries a potential maximum punishment of up to five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine.
Aggravated Battery - A second-degree felony, holds a possible penalty of up to 15 years of imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, and possible probation, and restitution costs. Aggravated battery against a "special victim" in Florida results in as much as 15 years of imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, and probation for up to 15 years, and possible restitution. If an offender was convicted of previous violent crimes, a typical sentence is subject to "enhancement", which means harsher consequences, such as more prison time, fines, and longer probation periods.
“Special victims” are considered to be Children & Family Services employees (in the instance that the offender knew the victim’s employment status), the elderly (65 or older), a school employee, an elected official (when the alleged offender is aware of their employment status), and detainees or visitors in a Florida correctional facility, provided the alleged offender is a detainee at facility.
Potential Battery Defenses in Florida
Self-defense is the most common defense employed in battery cases. To establish self-defense, the alleged offender must anticipate a reasonable threat of harm against them.
Defense of Others
This defense is very similar to that of self-defense, with the only difference being that the alleged offender must have a reasonable, perceived fear of harm coming to another person.
Defense of Property
An alleged offender in a battery case must be able to reasonably claim that they acted in defense of his or her property being violated, stolen, or unlawfully withheld. This defense typically permits an alleged offender the use of reasonable force to defend their property, particularly when their home is involved. Another prime example is when somebody steals an individual's purse or wallet. They then have the right to employ reasonable force to retrieve their property.
Consent - Consent may be a viable defense to a battery charge. When an alleged victim has consented to an act voluntarily, then this act typically can't constitute a battery. However, if the act's extent goes beyond the alleged victim's consent, battery charges can be pursued.
Consult a Battery Defense Attorney
Criminal charges blemish criminal background checks, which limits employment opportunities and property rental choices. Further, a convicted felon loses the right to vote or to own or carry firearms. Convicted felons, who are faced with criminal charges later, may incur "enhanced" charges if they are charged with another violent crime. Therefore, it's important to seek the expertise of a seasoned defense attorney when you're arrested for battery in Florida. A criminal defense attorney can help resolve your case with your best interest as their primary consideration.