BATTERY (Battery on a LEO, Aggravated Battery, Battery on a Pregnant Person, etc.)
Battery charges range anywhere from simple misdemeanors to serious punishable by life felony charges. There are four factors that determine how serious a battery charge is going to be:
1) the extent of injury to a victim (i.e. serious bodily injury),
2) type of victim (i.e. domestic relationship, pregnant, over age 65, law enforcement officer),
3) weapon used, if any (i.e. deadly weapon, firearm), and
4) defendant's prior record (prior battery convictions enhance battery charges).
The basic definition of a simple battery is found in the Florida Statutes 784.03. Battery; felony battery
(1)(a) The offense of battery occurs when a person:
- Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or
- Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (2), a person who commits battery commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(2) 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, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. For purposes of this subsection, “conviction” means a determination of guilt that is the result of a plea or a trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld or a plea of nolo contendere is entered.
As you can see above, you can commit a battery in two different ways, either by intentionally touching a person against their will or intentionally causing bodily harm to another person. But that stuff is obvious, the more difficult legal issues arise from the numerous ways a prosecutor can enhance a battery. For example, battering a woman is a misdemeanor of the first degree (punishable by up to 1 year in jail), but if the woman is pregnant, that same act becomes a felony (what if you don't know the woman is pregnant?). That felony battery carries a maximum of 5 years in prison. Battering a man may be a misdemeanor as well, but if that man is over the age of 65, it's now a felony charge for the exact same conduct (what if you didn't know the person was over the age of 65?).
What Happens If the Alleged Victim Doesn't Cooperate?
This is a loaded question, isn't it? If I had a dollar for every time I was asked this question....
Sure, we have a criminal justice system to handle disputes, but sometimes, We The People like to work things out on our own. Some prosecutors accept this fact, others ignore the wishes of "the people". The bottom line is, don't expect the charges to be dropped just because the victim is uncooperateive. If you're a victim of a battery, don't expect the case to be dropped just because you've called the prosecutor and told them so. Calling the prosecutor is one of the least effective means of making your wishes known. The decision to either file criminal charges, or drop them, is controlled by the State, not the victim. As a matter of fact, one Florida prosecutor was sued because a victim didn't want charges to be dropped (check out my article "Prosecutor Sued Over Nolle Pros" for more information).
Of course, it certainly makes for a better case when an alleged victim doesn't cooperate. But, its not the end of the story. The prosecutor can force victims to cooperate (there are problems with this, like, just because you force a victim to show up in court doesn't mean they'll remember what happened, many domestic cases are drunken events forgotten the next day).
Uncooperative victims should make their intentions known to the court by filing a sworn document known as a Declination of Prosecution or a Drop Charge Affidavit. Not any affidavit will do, so an attorney should be retained by the victim to make sure the wording is correct. Telling the court that you want your husband back home and that this was all a big misunderstanding isn't going to cut it.
And beware, a declination of prosecution may qualify as a "recantation" of some original statement to police. Recanted testimony can be trouble for an alleged victim, as it may expose the witness to criminal liability (perjury, filing a false police report, for example). But, recanted testimony also spells trouble for prosecutors, because, once a witness recants it can be difficult for the prosecutor to admit the prior incriminating statement of the alleged victim. This issue gets rather technical, so for more information on how recanted testimony causes problems for the State check out my article entitled "Conviction Reversed After Prosecutor Admits Recanted Statement." The issues surrounding uncooperative witnesses are most frequently found in domestic violence battery cases, so click over to that page on my site to explore this topic in greater detail.
There are too many issues to list here regarding the many different ways our government can enhance a simple battery charge into something far more serious. So, don't face this alone, call criminal attorney John Guidry today to discuss all your options. The consultation is free, you have nothing to lose, and lots of knowledge to gain!