Felony Battery Defense in Florida
What must the prosecutor prove in a Felony Battery case?
There are ways for a Felony Battery to be committed in Florida.
First, According to Florida Statute § 784.041, the offense of Felony Battery occurs when a person:
- Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; and
- Causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.
Second, according to Florida Statute § 784.03, a person who has one prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery, or felony battery and who commits any second or subsequent battery commits a felony of the third degree.
What is Great Bodily Harm?
The jury, or in the case of a bench trial the judge, determines whether or not an injury constitutes great bodily harm. However, great bodily harm is not slight, trivial, minor, or moderate harm. It does not include mere bruises as are likely to be inflicted in a simple assault and battery. Broken bones, a broken nose, severe swelling to the head and eyes, cuts on a shoulder, substantial bruising, and scarring have all been held by Florida Courts to constitute great bodily harm.
What are the maximum penalties in a Felony Battery case?
In Florida, a Felony Battery is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of:
- 5 years of imprisonment
- A $5,000.00 fine
- 5 years of probation
Possible Defenses to a Felony Battery Charge:
- The Florida Stand Your Ground Law
Under the Florida Stand Your Ground Law a person is justified in using force against another if the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend him or herself against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force.
- Self Defense to a Felony Battery Charge
If a jury, or in the case of a bench trial, the judge, were to find that there was a reasonable doubt as to whether or not a person was justified in using a Battery to protect himself or herself, then the jury or judge should find the person not guilty.
- The Witnesses are Lying
Alleged victims and witnesses in a Felony Battery cases sometimes make false accusations because they have a motive to lie. For example, child custody issues, cheating in a relationship, and other conflicts can motivate a person to claim a Felony Battery occurred when it did not. A Defense Attorney can expose these motivations and attack false allegations.
- The Touching or Striking was Unintentional
In order for someone to be convicted of Felony Battery, the State must prove that the touching or striking was intentional.
For example, imagine Person A is walking down some stairs and trips. If Person A were to crash into Person B and seriously injury Person B, there would be no Felony Battery because the touching and striking would not be intentional.
- The Witnesses May Be Mistaken
Sometimes a witness may claim to have seen a Battery take place, but they were mistaken. For example, Attorney Hardy handled an Aggravated Battery case in which a witness claimed to have seen Attorney Hardy’s client strike the alleged victim at a bar. However, during Attorney Hardy’s investigation, Attorney Hardy was able to prove that there was very little light in the bar, the witness had been drinking heavily, and that the witness saw the events take place behind her – through her legs – as she was crawling on the bar. Evidence like this can discredit a witness’s testimony.
Common Questions Regarding a Felony Battery Charge
- Can a Person be Convicted of Felony Battery Even Though They Never Touched or Struck the Other Person?
Yes. A person could be convicted of Felony Battery if they touch or strike an object that has such an intimate connection with the person as to be regarded as a part or extension of the person, such as clothing or an object held by the person. For example, in the case of Nash v. State, 766 So.2d 310 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000) a defendant grabbed a purse from a victim, and the two struggled for its possession. The Court held that the purse was an extension of the victim and that the defendant had committed a Battery when he snatched it away. If the victim, in this case, had suffered great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement the State could have charged a Felony Battery.
- Does the State Have to Dismiss the Felony Battery Case if the Victim Decides Not To Prosecute?
No. Although the victim can request that the State Attorney’s Office not prosecute, the decision whether or not to prosecute is up to the prosecutor. If the prosecutor can prove the case using other witnesses, videos, photos, or a 911 call, they will normally proceed with the case with or without the victim.
- What is the Difference between Felony Battery and an Aggravated Battery with Great Bodily Harm?
In a Felony Battery, the Defendant intends to touch or strike the victim, but he does not intend to cause great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. For example, if Person A shoves Person B, and Person B accidentally falls against a brick wall and seriously injures his head, Person A intended to touch Person B but he did not intend to cause a serious head injury.
In an Aggravated Battery, the Defendant intends to strike the victim, and he intends to great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. For example, if Person A strikes Person B in the face with a beer bottle, Person A intends to both strike Person B and cause great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.
Are you looking for the best lawyer to handle a charge of Felony Battery in Tampa Florida? Contact Attorney David C. Hardy.
Tampa Attorney David C. Hardy is a former prosecutor that now represents persons accused of Felony Battery. He is Board Certified by the Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy as an Expert in Criminal Trial Law. As a prosecutor and defense attorney, he has extensive experience handling all types of Battery cases.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for Felony Battery in Hillsborough County Florida, Pinellas County Florida, or Pasco County Florida, Attorney David C. Hardy has the knowledge, skills, and experience to guide you through this process and obtain the best possible results.