A battery is a felony. Depending on the facts of the case, the amount of the victim’s injuries, and the defendant’s previous history, a prosecutor may prosecute a battery offense as a felony or a misdemeanor.
Most countries consider a battery to be a felony charge if it escalates to the level of aggravated battery.
What is a Battery?
A person commits battery under 720 ILCS 5/12-3 if he or she insults or induces physical contact with another. This can range from pushing to hitting and harming another individual without legal grounds.
If you rip someone’s clothing in rage, you may be charged with battery. Because garments are regarded as an extension of the person, this will be termed ‘touching.’ You could be punished with an aggravated domestic battery if the injuries caused disfigurement or handicap. For example, if you pushed a pregnant woman and caused permanent harm to the unborn fetus, you could face felony charges.
Is Battery a Felony?
A prosecutor has the authority to charge the severe battery as a felony. A defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt if the following conditions are met:
- The defendant committed a battery, and
- The commission of the offense was accompanied by aggravating circumstances.
Aggravating circumstances may include the defendant:
- In the course of the battery, you caused substantial bodily harm to the victim.
- employed a lethal weapon to accomplish the crime,
- Committed a battery in a domestic violence situation or a sexual battery,
- Committed a battery against a police officer or other law enforcement officer,
- was significantly older or stronger than the alleged victim
- caused permanent disfigurement in the victim
- Committed the battery with the goal to hurt the victim seriously, and/or
- Had a criminal record that included many battery convictions.
In most jurisdictions in the United States, aggravated battery is charged as a felony (for example, felony battery).
Many states classify felony charges as a first-degree or second-degree battery.
The offense carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail, or potentially longer depending on the details of the case.
Is Simple Battery a Felony?
No. Simple battery is generally considered a misdemeanor offense in most jurisdictions.
To effectively convict a person of misdemeanor battery, the prosecutor must prove the following:
- The defendant made intentional and unlawful physical contact with another individual, and
- The defendant did so without the approval of such a person.
- The key element of the offense is that the offender made offensive physical contact with the victim.
The following are some scenarios in which battery charges may be filed:
- In a department shop, a woman pushes a man out of her way.
- A man throws a rock at another man, and it strikes him in the back.
- A waitress spits on a restaurant patron who has been nasty to her.
Simple battery is a misdemeanor offense in some jurisdictions. Typically, the offense is penalized by:
- a year in prison, or both
- Probation for a misdemeanor
Is Assault the Same as Battery?
No, assault and battery are two separate but linked offenses.
To effectively convict a defendant of assault, the prosecutor must prove the following:
- The accused purposefully attempted or threatened to injure another individual, and
- He/she did so with a clear ability to carry out the attempted or threatened action.
Given the foregoing, the primary distinction between assault and battery is that:
- An attack is defined as any action that causes physical injury or unwelcome touching to another person.
- A battery is an intentional imposition of force or violence on another person.
It should be noted that similar to a battery, certain states categorize assault as simple assault or aggravated assault.
The offense is usually charged as a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to six months in prison.
Whether charged with assault or battery, the accused must seek the assistance of a professional criminal defense attorney or a criminal defense lawyer. There are potential defenses to these offenses (for example, self-defense), and an experienced lawyer can assist a person in using one to oppose a charge.
How Can a Battery Be Converted to a Felony?
This charge is classified as a Class A misdemeanor under Chapter 720. As previously stated, it can be escalated to a felony, i.e. aggravated assault, if the following circumstances are met:
- When you made touch with the other individual, you intended to cause bodily harm.
- While committing battery, you employed a lethal weapon.
- You consciously committed the act against certain groups of people. This includes firefighters, peace officers, medical personnel delivering aid, hiring vehicle drivers, state officials, pregnant women, and senior individuals aged 60 and up.
- You’ve been convicted of the same offense or of breaking a protection order in the past.
Felony Assault and Battery Penalties
Felony assault and battery are often punishable by one to 25 years in prison, depending on the precise terms of each state’s sentencing statute or guidelines. Normally, the judge has some leeway in determining the length of the sentence and whether the offender should serve any portion of the sentence on probation rather than in jail.
Judges typically consider the defenses presented at trial, whether the defendant has accepted responsibility for the crime and shows remorse, the circumstances surrounding the crime (mitigating or aggravating), the extent of any injuries sustained, the type of weapon used, the accused’s prior criminal record, and, in some cases, the victim’s background or relationship to the defendant in determining a sentence.
Enhancement of Sentences
Assault or battery against a specific victim, such as a police officer or an elderly person, carries harsher penalties in some states or is susceptible to a sentence enhancement, which allows the court to add extra time to the sentence for the underlying offense. If the lethal weapon used in an assault or battery is a firearm, many states have harsher penalties or sentencing enhancement provisions. Finally, in some places, the penalties for certain types of firearms, such as automatic weapons, machine guns, or guns that fire metal-resistant bullets, are considerably worse.
Representation in Court
Felony assault and battery are serious accusations, and a conviction for one of these crimes can have major consequences in your life. You may risk a lengthy prison sentence as well as the stigma of being a convicted felon. Convicted felons are unable to vote or own firearms, and they frequently struggle to obtain work. A skilled criminal defense attorney can assist you in fighting a felony assault or battery charge, protecting your rights, and achieving the best possible result. An attorney will research your case extensively, assist you in asserting any potential defenses, and guide you through the criminal court procedure.
Defenses on Battery Charges
You have the right to use force against someone “when and to the extent that he or she reasonably thinks that such threat or force is required to defend himself or herself or a third person from such other’s imminent use of unlawful force,” according to O.C.G.A. 16-3-21. This is the most typical battery defense. If you claim self-defense, you must be able to show the court that you were threatened with injury and that you did not incite the attack.
#2. Defense of Others
As previously stated, a threat or use of force is justifiable if there is a reasonable belief that it is required to defend a third person from an impending use of unlawful force. Consider a heated athletic event: if you find yourself in a disagreement with someone who makes obvious and unambiguous threats of violence towards you or people you are with, it is theoretically within your rights to strike or use force to defend yourself from the threatened violence. If you can demonstrate to the court that you were forced to use physical violence to protect others, you may be able to avoid a conviction.
#3. Property Defense:
Under OCGA 16-3-23, a person is justified in threatening or using force against another if he or she reasonably thinks that such threat or force is required to prevent or terminate such other’s unlawful entry into or attack on any house, motor vehicle, or place of business. Consider an altercation outside of a bar: if someone grabs your car or acts in a noisy manner that may result in damage to the bar itself (i.e. falling through a window at a bar), it may be within your rights to neutralize this threat. Similarly, if you get into an altercation at home and the individual seeks to enter your yard or property, you may be justified in using force to deter the threat.
#4. Charge Not Applicable:
It is highly typical for law enforcement to charge you with a crime that is more serious than your actions warrant. As evidenced by the preceding case law, representation from an attorney who is well-versed in these statutes might mean the difference between time in jail and freedom.
#5. Inadequate Intention
The circumstances surrounding the victim’s touching or striking determine the intent to commit a battery. As a result, there are only a few instances where purposeful, non-consensual touching does not constitute a criminal battery. Examples of such lacking intent have been reported:
If a person attempts to assist a disabled or elderly person, even if the disabled or elderly person does not want assistance, and the assistance results in the person falling and injuring themselves, touching the disabled or elderly person to assist them is not considered criminal battery.
If a child (or adult) throws a tantrum and mistakenly hits a person, either by throwing an item or thrashing a body part around, the inadvertent contact will not be constituted criminal battery because there was no particular purpose to hitting the victim.
What is the California Law?
Simple battery and aggravated battery are both recognized under California law.
California law defines simple battery as “any purposeful and unlawful act of force or violence onto the person of another” under Penal Code 242 PC.
Even if the victim was not injured or in agony, the offense can be charged. All that is required is that the defendant made offensive physical contact with the victim.
In California, most cases of simple battery are charged as a misdemeanor. Penalties could include:
- incarceration in a county jail for up to six months, and/or
- a fine of up to $2,000
A person commits aggravated battery under California law if they touch or strike another person in a harmful or offensive manner, causing the individual to suffer a substantial injury, according to Penal Code 243d PC.
Any substantial deterioration of someone’s physical condition is regarded as “serious bodily harm.” The victim is not required to seek medical attention for the injuries.
Serious physical injuries may include the following:
- consciousness loss,
- fractured bones,
- prolonged loss or impairment of any physical component or organ’s function,
- wounds that necessitate significant suturing, and
- severe disfigurement
Under California law, aggravated battery is a wobbler offense. A wobbler is a serious infraction that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony by a prosecutor.
When a severe battery is charged as a misdemeanor, the following punishments are possible:
- Probation for misdemeanor (or summary) offenses,
- one year in county jail, and/or
- up to $1,000 in fines
The following are the potential penalties for felony aggravated battery:
- Felony probation (or formal probation),
- confinement in a county jail for up to four years, and/or
- up to $10,000 in fines