Definition of Felony Battery
The definition of Felony Battery is contained within Section 784.041, Florida Statutes. Under the law, Felony Battery is committed where a defendant actually and intentionally strikes a person (without the person’s consent) and, in doing so, “causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement” to the alleged victim.
In contrast to Aggravated Battery, the offense does not involve a conscious intent to cause the great bodily harm.
To prove the crime of Felony Battery at trial, the State of Florida must establish the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant intentionally touched or struck the alleged victim against the alleged victim’s will; and
- The defendant, in committing the battery, caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the alleged victim.
Second or Subsequent Offenses
In Florida, battery may also be charged as a third degree felony (even in the absence of great bodily harm) if the defendant was previously convicted of a battery offense. Section 784.03, Florida Statutes, provides: “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.”
Penalties for Felony Battery
Felony Battery is classified as a third degree felony. Upon conviction, a defendant may be sentenced up to five years in prison or five years of probation, and may be assessed fines of up $5,000.00.
Other penalties in Florida can include the following:
- Restitution awards (for medical bills and other losses caused to the alleged victim);
- Community service;
- Substance abuse evaluations and treatment;
- Psychological evaluations and treatment;
- In domestic violence cases, completion of a 26-29 week Batterer’s Intervention Program.
Defenses to Felony Battery
Although no two cases are the same, there are many defenses available to fight a charge of felony battery in Florida. Some of the more common defenses raised in these types of cases include the following:
- Use of force in Defense of Others;
- Use of Force in Defense of Property;
- Consent or Mutual Combat;
- Stand Your Ground;
- Factual disputes about how the incident occurred;
- Vindictive ‘victim;’
- Injuries do not constitute ‘great bodily harm;’
Case Example- Felony Battery
State vs. D.R.W. (Fourth Judicial Circuit, Martin County, Florida) (2012)– Our client was charged with Felony Battery after allegedly punching his father following a previous battery conviction. The incident occurred while both parties were highly intoxicated at their home, arguing over an ongoing family dispute.
Upon being being retained in the case, our attorneys spoke with two witnesses who were present in the home during the event. One of these witnesses, who was never interviewed by police, gave a conflicting account that supported a strong self-defense claim. We obtained an affidavit from the witness, submitted photographs of a bruising caused to our client, and commenced early negotiations with the prosecution for the case to be dropped.
Outcome: Case Dismissed.
Importance of an Attorney
Given the numerous defenses available in a Felony Battery prosecution, an attorney is a critical asset to protecting the rights of the accused and obtaining the best possible outcome in a case. No person should enter a plea to such a charge without first seeking the advice of competent counsel.
If you have been accused of Felony Battery, contact attorney Steven Sessa for a free consultation. Attorney Steven Sessa handles cases throughout Southeast and Central Florida.