I was arrested for battery after an altercation I was involved in and assumed I would be charged with a misdemeanor offense but later learned that I was charged with felony battery. What are the different types of battery and why was I charged with a more serious offense than I initially thought I would be facing?
Under Florida law, there are several different types of battery charges. Battery is defined under Florida law as actually and intentionally touching or striking another person against their will or intentionally causing bodily harm to another person. Battery is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year imprisonment and fines.
Battery charges can be elevated to felony battery if the accused person already has a prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery, or felony battery. Generally, a prior offense is only considered a conviction if the defendant was adjudicated guilty of that offense, but under the Florida felony battery statute, any determination of guilt that is the result of a plea agreement or trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld or a plea of nolo contendere is entered, will be considered a conviction. Felony battery is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years of incarceration and fines. With the increase in severity of the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony, the accused will also face losing constitutional rights upon a conviction, a greater possibility the alleged crime will interfere with current or future employment, and the more negative stigma often associated with felonies.
There are also two other types of battery that are felony offenses: aggravated battery and domestic battery by strangulation. A person can be charged with aggravated battery if, while committing a battery, they intentionally or knowingly cause great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the victim, use a deadly weapon, or the victim was pregnant at the time of the offense and the accused knew or should have known of the pregnancy. Aggravated battery is a second-degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. Domestic battery by strangulation occurs when the victim is a family member, household member, or in a dating relationship with the person accused, and the act that constitutes the battery impedes the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of the victim so as to create a risk of or cause great bodily harm when applying pressure on the throat or neck or blocking the nose or mouth of the victim. Domestic battery by strangulation is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and fines.
There are many potential defenses available to battery, including self-defense, lack of intent, and consent by the victim. Given the severity of battery offenses, anyone facing these charges should consult with an experienced attorney to determine what defenses are applicable to them, or the possibility of having charges of felony-level battery offenses reduced to misdemeanor battery to avoid possible jail time, fines, and a felony conviction on their record.