Battery and Aggravated Battery Offenses in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Tampa


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In practical terms, what distinguishes assault offenses from battery offenses is the "contact" element. This article provides an overview of the various classifications of battery offenses, the circumstances under which they are enhanced or reclassified, and their respective penalty provisions.

As discussed in our last article, assault involves placing another person in fear of imminent violence, but once physical contact is made with that person, the offense is appropriately deemed a battery. In Florida, a person commits a simple battery if he or she intentionally touches or strikes another person, without the other person's consent, or intentionally causes the other person bodily
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harm. Simple battery is a misdemeanor of the first degree. This means that upon entering a plea of guilty or no contest, or after a finding guilt by a judge (in a bench trial situation) or jury, the court can impose up to twelve months of probation, twelve months in the county jail, or some combination of both.

It should be noted that simple battery in an enhanceable offense. Thus, if a person has a conviction for any battery offense (including simple battery), a subsequent simple battery offense becomes a felony of the third degree. A third degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison. This is another important distinction between assault offenses and battery offenses in Florida; simple assault is not enhanceable based on the number of prior convictions. A person may be surprised to learn that their simple battery offense was filed as a third degree felony where they received a withhold of adjudication on the prior simple battery charge. Florida law makes no distinction between an adjudication of guilt and a withhold of adjudication under these circumstances.

A person may also be charged with felony battery where he or she intentionally touches or strikes another person, without that person's consent, and in the process causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. A person would be charged with felony battery where he or she intends to make non-consensual contact with the alleged victim, but does not intend the end result. Where the person makes physical contact, and does intend to cause great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement, that person commits an aggravated battery. A person may also be charged with aggravated battery if he or she uses a deadly weapon while committing a battery or where the victim is pregnant and the accused person is aware of that fact. Aggravated battery is a second degree felony which means that upon conviction, the court may sentence the accused person to a maximum of fifteen years in prison.

If the deadly weapon used in the commission of an aggravated battery is a firearm, the accused person will be subject to the provisions of Florida's 10-20-Life statute. Under 10-20-Life, if, during the commission of a battery, the person actually possessed a firearm, he or she will be subject to a 10 year minimum mandatory sentence (if the person possesses a firearm during the commission of an aggravated assault, then the applicable minimum mandatory is only three years). If the firearm is discharged during the commission of an aggravated battery, then the accused person will be subject to a 20 year minimum mandatory sentence. If, as a result of having discharged the firearm, another person was killed or suffered great bodily harm, then the accused person will be subject to a mandatory term of imprisonment that is no less than 25 years and no more than life.

If a battery offense is committed on a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical care provider, then the offense is reclassified as follows: (1) in the case of a battery, from a misdemeanor of the first degree to a felony of the third degree; and (2) in the case of an aggravated battery, from a felony of the second degree to a felony of the first degree. A first degree felony is punishable by up to thirty years in state prison (unless the applicable statute specifically states that it is punishable by life). Also, any person convicted of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical care provider will be subject to a five year minimum mandatory prison sentence.

As with all felony cases, Florida's sentencing guidelines will apply. In determining the minimum score, the guidelines will take into account the degree or level or battery offense that was charged, any additional offenses that are before the court for sentencing, the person's prior criminal history, and victim injury points. Whether prosecuted in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, or Tampa, any disposition of a battery offense will also include the imposition of fines and court costs, certain applicable surcharges, and restitution to the victim for any out of pocket expenses he or she incurred as a result of the offense.

It should be apparent that battery offenses can become quite complicated, particularly in felony situations. If you have been arrested for a battery offense, you should consult with a Tampa Bay area criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss the circumstances of your arrest, any and all viable defenses, and sentencing issues that you will most certainly need to be aware of.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donald J. Kilfin, The Kilfin Law Firm, P.C.
Donald J. Kilfin is a former Pinellas county state prosecutor. He owns and operates The Kilfin Law Firm, P.C., a Tampa Bay area DUI and criminal defense firm representing clients in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, New Port Richey, Dade City, and Bradenton.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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