Having a battery charge in your record can badly damage your reputation and career, and ultimately your life. Under Florida Law, a battery charge can quickly escalate from a simple battery to a first-degree misdemeanor, especially if you are now well-represented in court.
At Meltzer & Bell, you’ll find an attorney who can provide you with sound legal counsel on your case and help you build a formidable defense against it. This article explains what is considered a simple battery under Florida Law and its charges.
Definition of Simple Battery in Florida
Simple Battery / Misdemeanor Battery is defined under Section 784.03, Florida Statutes. This section defines battery as follows.
- Any actual and intentional touching or striking of another person against that person’s will, or;
- The intentional causing of bodily harm to another person.
This means that touching someone intentionally without their consent, whether or not there was harm or injury, can result in a battery charge. The case escalates and can result in more penalties if there is harm, riot, or battery and the victim is categorized as vulnerable.
There is a difference between assault and battery as defined under Florida Law. An assault is an intentional threat to harm you where the perpetrator shows apparent ability to cause harm.
On the other hand, a battery is when the assaulter actually touches the person (no matter how slight the contact is) with the intention to cause harm.
For example, if someone threatens to beat you and looks physically able to beat you, that is an assault. However, if the person actually beats you, whether or not you got injured, that contact is called a battery.
Who are the Vulnerable Victims in a Simple Battery Charge?
As mentioned earlier, a battery charge where the victim is classified as vulnerable could escalate the case and result in hefty penalties. Florida has the following categories of people as vulnerable in a battery case.
- The elderly (65 years and older)
- Those whose employment puts them in danger, such as police officers, school teachers, health care workers, emergency responders, and workers in a correctional facility.
If the battery case includes domestic violence claims, additional penalties, and victim protection laws by be included as stipulated in Florida Domestic Violence Laws.
What are the Penalties for Simple Battery in Florida?
In Florida, county courts are responsible for handling simple battery cases. The county courts take such cases with high seriousness as they are cases that involve harming someone directly.
The judge can sentence you to the following penalties if you are convicted of battery.
- Up to 12 months of probation.
- Up to 364 days in jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
Other charges like court costs for the victim may also be included. Convicted perpetrators can submit their pleas, with typical plea offers for a simple battery charge, including classes on anger management, probation, no contact with the victim, or community service.
County court prosecutors are aggressive on battery charges and often seek jail term sentences for offenders, including first-time offenders. However, the judge may consider factors like the offender’s criminal record, the status of the victim, expenses incurred by the victim such as treatment costs, and the prosecutor’s argument before deciding on the penalty.
Simple Battery charges are reclassified when they involve a vulnerable victim, especially if they were in their line of duty. This could mean that the penalties may go higher than the ones mentioned above, depending on the severity of the case.
Defenses in a Simple Battery Charge in Florida
Once you are charged with a simple battery, it’s important to contact a qualified lawyer who can help build a proper defense for your case. A Meltzer & Bell lawyer, experienced in simple battery cases, will study your case and know exactly how to approach its defense.
Some of the defenses that can work in a simple battery charge include the following.
The keyword in a simple battery charge is when you intentionally touch or cause bodily harm to someone without their consent. However, if the alleged victim gave their consent for you to touch or strike them, then that could be your defense.
#2. Unintentional touching
In a simple battery charge, touching or striking the victim must be intentional. Therefore, the prosecution must prove that you intentionally had physical contact with the victim. Your lawyer can use this common defense strategy to defend your case.
For example, if you accidentally bumped into a person on the streets, you didn’t intend to have any physical contact with the person, so a battery charge would not hold.
#3. Mutual combat
Was there a fight? Mutual combat is when the alleged offender and victim are involved in a fight. In Florida, the law considers a fight as consent from both sides such that they take responsibility for the bodily harm that may be caused in the fight.
This defense works because one cannot consent to a fight and then later claim that they were harmed without their consent.
When someone is attacking you, the most natural thing to do is to fight back and defend yourself. So the law of Florida defines self-defense as the justified use of force to defend yourself against battery as long as the force is non-deadly.
It will be your lawyer’s responsibility to prove to the court that you were defending yourself from the attacker’s battery and that you did not consent to fight.
Get Good Representation
Convictions on simple battery charges remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life and could limit your progress and how you interact with people in society. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. have a team of qualified simple battery lawyers who can act swiftly on your defense to make sure that the case is dismissed.
If you are charged with a simple battery, and you need to contact a competent attorney, Call Meltzer & Bell, P.A. today at (561) 557-8686 to set up a consultation. You’ll get in touch with an attorney at any time of the day, seven days a week.