Charged with Misdemeanor Battery in Pinellas County?
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Under Florida law, Battery is a first-degree misdemeanor with penalties of up to one year in jail or 12 months probation and a $1,000 fine. Misdemeanor Battery cases are often resolved without jail, and your case may have defenses that should be raised.
Some facts and circumstances will raise a battery from a misdemeanor charge to a felony or enhance the possible penalties. A battery on an elderly person, a pregnant person, or a battery that causes great bodily injury are just a few of the cases that can be charged as a felony.
What Is Misdemeanor Battery in Florida?
The crime of Misdemeanor Battery is defined in Florida Statute Section 784.03. In Florida, the crime of Battery can be proved in two ways:
- Actually and intentionally touching or striking of a person against their will, or
- Intentionally causing bodily harm to another person.
It is not necessary to show that bodily harm was caused. D.C. v. State, 436 So.2d 203 (Fla. 1st DCA 1983)
While it does not require the State to prove bodily harm, intent to touch or strike is a required battery charge element. A defendant must intend to strike the person or engage in conduct where he or she knows that a touch or strike is substantially certain to result from his/her acts.
An accidental or incidental touching is insufficient to establish a battery. The question of intent is for the jury to resolve by examining the surrounding facts and circumstances of the victim’s touching or striking.
C.B. v. State, 810 So.2d 1072 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002); Beard v. State, 842 So. 2d 174 (Fla.2d DCA 2003); Fey v. State, 125 So.3d 828 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013)
CONSENT AND MUTUAL COMBAT
It is a required element of Battery that the touching occurs against the person’s will. This issue comes up in cases where two people engage in a fight. In Florida, mutual combat is a recognized defense because both parties consent to being touched as an understood consequence of that altercation. Both parties must be at fault, and the defendant must not be the primary aggressor or initiate the fight.
Again, this issue of consent is a jury question and is examined by the jury in light of the surrounding circumstances.
Eiland v. State, 112 So.2d 415 (Fla. 2d DCA 1959); A.L. v. State, 790 So.2d 1149 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001); State v. Clyatt, 976 So.2d 1182 (Fla. 5th Dist. 2008)
DIRECT CONTACT IS NOT REQUIRED
Under section 784.03 of the Florida Statutes, indirect contact, such as by throwing an object, can constitute Battery if the indirect contact was intentionally caused by the accused and was against the other person’s will. Even spitting can constitute a battery. Mohansingh v. State, 824 So.2d 1053 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002)
POSSIBLE DEFENSES TO MISDEMEANOR BATTERY
Battery charges can be defended in Florida courts. Some of the most common defenses are:
- Defense of Property or Others;
- Consent/Mutual Combat;
- Justified Use of Force under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law;
- Circumstances Showing Accident or Lack of Intent;
- Lack of Evidence;
- Conflicts in the Evidence
PENALTIES FOR MISDEMEANOR BATTERY
Battery is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida. As a misdemeanor, the penalties can include up to a year in jail or a probationary sentence not to exceed one year. Depending on the circumstances, misdemeanor Battery charges can often be resolved with probation, Anger Management classes, and No Contact Orders.