Battery Attorneys Palm Beach and Broward County
In Florida, Florida Statute 784.03 states the offense of Battery (Simple Battery or Misdemeanor Battery) occurs when a person: Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person. Battery is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in the county jail.
To prove the crime of Battery, the State must prove the following element beyond a reasonable doubt.
- The Defendant intentionally touched or struck the victim against his or her will, or;
- The Defendant intentionally caused bodily harm to the victim.
At trial, if the jury determines that the prosecutor has not proven the element beyond a reasonable doubt then the Defendant is not guilty.
Penalties for Battery
Florida law states that Battery is a first degree misdemeanor. First degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to 1 year in the county jail. However, we may be able to get the charge dismissed, reduced or negotiate with the prosecutor for only probation. Frequent conditions of probation include completing an anger management program, refraining from contact with the victim and paying up to $1,000 in fines.
However, a person who has one prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery, or felony battery who commits any second or subsequent battery commits a felony of the third degree punishable by up to 5 years in state prison. For enhancement purposes, a “conviction” occurs even if a person received a withhold of adjudication on the prior battery, felony battery or aggravated battery.
Does the Defendant have to act intentionally?
Yes, if a Defendant accidentally touched someone then a battery did not occur. Additionally, a Defendant does not commit a battery by experiencing involuntary arm or leg movements that strike the victim. Such movements may be due to a medical problem and would not be intentional. Intent is ultimately a question for a jury to determine.
Does the touching have to be against the victim’s will?
Yes. For example, in a situation where two people agree to fight, known as mutual combat, a Battery does not occur because the touching is not against the victim’s will. He or she consented to the touching.
What if a Defendant indirectly contacts the victim?
A Battery occurs if a Defendant intentionally throws an object at a victim and that object hits the victim.
Do the charges get dropped if the victim wants the charges to be dropped?
Many people believe that the victim decides whether to “drops charges.” This is incorrect. Only the prosecutor assigned to the case has the power to drop the charges. The prosecutor may consider the participation of a victim at a trial, but ultimately the decision to keep or drop the charge rests with him or her. If a particular defendant has a history of violence, the prosecutor is very likely to proceed to trial with only an independent witness (police officer, friend, family member etc.) to the battery.
Do the charges get dropped if the victim refuses to testify?
Not necessarily. In many cases, the prosecutor may feel that he or she can prove the charge if there were other people who witnessed the battery.
Defenses to Battery
The most common defenses to Battery are:
- The defendant didn’t commit a battery
- The defendant committed a battery, but acted in self-defense
- The victim consented to the hitting, which typically occurs in a mutual combat situation where two people agree to fight.
A criminal defense attorney will read the police officer’s report, the witnesses’ statements, view photographs of the victim’s injuries, listen to 911 audio, file any appropriate motions in limine or stand your ground motions and take your case to trial if necessary.
A criminal defense attorney may consider: Is the defendant claiming self-defense? If so, what are the relative physical capabilities and capacities of the defendant and the victim? Does the victim have a reputation for being violent and dangerous? Is there 911 audio? If 911 audio exists, can any of the audio be redacted for various evidentiary reasons? Do photographs of the victim’s injuries exist? Are there independent witnesses? Does the victim want the charges dropped? What is the relationship between the defendant and the victim? Is there a motive for the victim to lie such as allegations of infidelity or child custody issues?
If you have been arrested or charged with Battery in Palm Beach County, Broward County, Martin County, or Dade County, contact a Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer from Bottari & Doyle at (561)-588-2781 for a free consultation.