I. Simple Battery
Simple battery, also known as misdemeanor battery, is a highly defendable crime. That’s why it’s imperative you hire a skillful law firm that will aggressively fight for you and your rights to avoid the damaging ramifications of a conviction. Simple battery is considered a first degree misdemeanor and carries penalties of up to one year in jail, 12 months supervised probation, and a $1,000 fine, among other sanctions. Under Florida Statute 784.03, a person commits a battery if they either intentionally touch or strike the victim against his or her will; or if a person intentionally causes bodily harm to the victim. If the State proves either of the aforementioned beyond a reasonable doubt, you could be facing some serious trouble. In Florida, battery is a unique crime in that the prosecution often seeks lengthy probation sentences and even jail time for first time offenders. Retaining a highly regarded law firm can help mitigate the possibility of these harsh penalties substantially or even altogether.
In order to prove the crime of battery the State doesn’t have to prove injury or that the victim was hurt. All that is required is that the defendant had the intent to touch the victim without the victim’s consent. The requisite intent can be either a specific voluntary act, or in the alternative, something that is substantially certain to result from the defendant’s actions. Therefore, applying the abovementioned, if you accidently bump into another person at the supermarket, you don’t satisfy the intent required for this crime. Intent is a question for the jury to decide by examining the unique facts of the case.
The crime of battery can be committed even if the victim’s body isn’t actually touched. If the accused touches an object that is “intimately connected with the victim’s body”—that suffices. For example, grabbing the victim’s purse or smacking a person’s hat off their head constitutes a battery. Direct contact also isn’t required. A battery can be committed by indirect contact—e.g. throwing an object at another person or spitting on someone.
As previously mentioned, battery is a highly defendable offense. Below are some defenses our law firm has successfully employed to get favorable results for our clients:
- Self defense;
- Defense of others;
- Mutual combat;
- Touching was accidental;
- Lack of intent;
- Stand Your Ground;
- Other defenses.
It’s noteworthy to point out that your simple battery charge could be enhanced if there are aggravating factors at play. This includes domestic violence, using a weapon to commit the battery, or if the victim endures serious bodily injury. Battery can also be upgraded if the battered person falls into a special category of persons and if they were in the lawful performance of their duty. For example, law enforcement officers, firefighters, among others. Battering a person such as law enforcement, for example, can upgrade your misdemeanor to a 3rd degree felony.
II. Aggravated Battery
Aggravated Battery is governed by Florida Statute 784.045. Under the Statute, a person commits an Aggravated Battery if he or she intentionally touches or strikes the alleged victim in one of the three following ways: (1) with a deadly weapon; or (2) the allege victim was pregnant and the person committing the battery knew or should have known this fact; or (3) the defendant intentionally or knowingly caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the victim. Unlike simple battery, Aggravated Battery is generally categorized as a second degree felony, and may carrying up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of supervised probation, up to a $10,000 fine, among other sanctions. It’s noteworthy to point out that your Aggravated Battery can be enhanced substantially if a firearm was used. Under these circumstances, Florida’s 10-20-Life Law will apply, as well as the following minimum mandatory sentences: if a firearm was possessed, it’s a minimum of 10-years imprisonment; if a firearm was discharged during the incident, it’s a minimum of 20-years imprisonment; and if a firearm was discharged and death or great bodily harm resulted, it’s a minimum of 25-years imprisonment.
The same defenses as simple battery apply (please see above), including that the instrument or object used during the occurrence wasn’t considered a “deadly weapon” under the meaning of the statute.
III. Domestic Violence Battery
Domestic Violence Battery is essentially an upgraded battery; however, the battered person falls into a special category of persons under Florida Statute 741.28—family or household members. Under the Statute, family or household members include:
- Former spouses;
- People living together as a family;
- People who lived together as a family in the past;
- Persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they’ve been married;
- Persons related by blood or marriage.
In Florida, Domestic Violence Battery is taken very seriously, which is why it’s harshly prosecuted and the consequences greatly exceed that of simple battery. It’s considered a first degree misdemeanor, and the penalties can include up to one-year imprisonment, 12 months supervised probation, $1,000 fine, among other sanctions. There are additional mandatory penalties under the Statute, which include completing a 26-week Batterer’s Intervention Program (BPI), mandatory 12-months probation, additional community service hours, 5 days required jail time—if the person is adjudicated guilty and the victim receives bodily injury, and a “no contact” order (i.e. you may have no contact with the alleged victim directly or indirectly).
Additionally, Domestic Violence Battery is a unique crime in that a person is not able to seal or expunge their domestic charges, even if adjudication is withheld—i.e. you weren’t formally convicted. Consequently, if you plead to a Domestic Violence Battery, you will have a criminal record for the rest of your lifetime.
The significance of having proper representation for this type of charge cannot be over emphasized enough. The chances of your domestic charge being dropped increases considerably when you have a highly reputable private attorney on the case to poke holes and create weaknesses in a seemly strong case for the State. When the prosecution sees a well-known law firm attached to the case, they know it’s going to be a battle and that we will not accept boilerplate offers. Another reason to hire an experience law firm is the fact that we know how to strategically handle these situations to get desirable outcomes. For instance, a seasoned law firm will know that early contact with the State and the alleged victim is crucial. If executed correctly, it could result in the prosecution not filing an information (formal charges) against you, which is more favorable than charges being filed and then subsequently dropped later.
In addition to making early contact with the alleged victim and the State, hiring a regarded law firm can help address the “no contact” order against a person. If the alleged victim doesn’t want to pursue charges and wants to have contact with the accused, your attorney can file what is known as a Motion to Modify Conditions of Pre-Trial Release. This allows the parties to resume contact with each other, and additionally, illustrates to the prosecution that the alleged victim is going to be an uncooperative witness. Another strategy our firm recommends to our clients is for them to voluntarily seek help or enroll and participate in counselling. This demonstrates to the State that you’re taking the offense seriously—as well as taking responsibility—which could change how the prosecution perceives the case and the accused. Ultimately, this can very well have an impact on the outcome of the case. Lastly, if the case cannot be worked out in the beginning stages, there are other avenues that can be employed to stimulate the charges being reduced or even dropped altogether. This includes Pre-Trial Motions—e.g. “Stand Your Ground” Motion, Motion in Limine, among other Motions. Frequently, these types of Motions help open up positive negotiations that result in favorable outcomes for our clients. It’s so critical that you do your due diligence and research to make sure you have the best representation that employs proven methods, like our law firm, to aggressively fight your case.
One of the many questions often asked is whether the State can still pursue battery or Domestic Violence Battery charges if the alleged victim doesn’t want to prosecute—i.e. victim wants the charges dropped. The answer to that questions is—yes! Prosecutorial decisions are made by the prosecutor on the case—not the alleged victim. Therefore, even if the alleged victim wishes not to go forward with the case, the State can still proceed with it. However, if the victim is not cooperative and refuses to testify it could influence the State’s decision to reduce or drop the charges. It’s significant to note that the prosecution doesn’t need the alleged victim’s testimony in order to convict a person of battery. Other witnesses such as law enforcement officers, bystanders, neighbors, family members, and friends may all suffice even if the victim wishes not to testify.
Below are some defenses to Domestic Violence Battery:
- Self Defense;
- Defense of Others;
- Defense of Property;
- Inconsistencies in Statements made;
- Lack of Evidence
- Stand Your Ground;
- Lack of Injury;
- Malicious Victim;
- Among other defenses.
If you have any further questions or want to set up a free consultation, please contact our law office at (407) 853-2606. Alternatively, we can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]