Florida’s criminal code includes several different types of battery, the severity of which depends on the circumstances of the crime. The most basic of these is simple battery, also known as misdemeanor battery. Simple battery means the intentional touching of another person without his or her consent. If you have been charged with a battery offense, it is essential to make sure you have an experienced attorney defending you.
Simple battery is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida. A person commits misdemeanor battery when he or she:
- Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person, against his or her will; or
- Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.
A person who has been arrested for battery will be charged with simple battery when there are no aggravating circumstances. Aggravating elements include factors such as the use of a deadly weapon, domestic violence, the infliction of serious bodily harm, or a prior battery conviction.
An essential element of any battery charge is proving the defendant’s intent. The intent requirement means that the defendant must have committed the battery on purpose. This can mean either that the defendant intended the harmful act, or that he or she intended to do something that was substantially certain to result in harm. Thus, if a person accidentally strikes someone else, that is not battery.
It is important to be aware that the doctrine of transferred intent means that if a defendant intended to commit a battery against one person, but instead accidentally battered another person, the defendant still has the necessary intent for a conviction.
For a battery conviction, there must be contact between the defendant and the victim. The contact can be indirect, however. For example, if a defendant throws a projectile at someone, and the projectile makes contact, that is sufficient.
The contact does not need to be directly with the body of the victim. A defendant still commits battery if he or she touches something intimately connected with the victim’s person. This may include, for example, clothing, a purse or wallet, cell phones, keys, and other objects being held by the person.
To constitute battery, the touching must be non-consensual and against the victim’s will. This is often at issue when people fight. In physical altercations, the defense of mutual combat may apply. A defendant does not commit battery when both parties consent to an altercation and thus consent to be touched. However, the defendant cannot be the main aggressor and cannot initiate the fight. Both parties must be at fault.
No actual injury is required for a battery to occur. There does not have to be any actual physical harm or any need for medical treatment. The mere fact of the nonconsensual touching is sufficient.
Simple battery is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by:
- Up to one year’s imprisonment, and
- A fine of up to $5,000.
Battery charges in Florida can have very serious consequences. If you have been charged with battery, please call the skilled West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.