Battery in Florida: What is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor Charge?
In July of this year, a tourist's beach trip was cut short when he was attacked by a Florida man wielding a shovel. The shovel actually belonged to the tourist, who had been digging a hole on the beach, but 53-year-old Christopher Carosella from Tampa subsequently picked up the shovel and attacked the tourist as the tourist was walking back to his hotel. The attack resulted in non-life threatening bruising and abrasions but Carosella was charged with aggravated battery.
In the state of Florida, aggravated battery occurs when a person intentionally touches another person and:
● Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability
or disfigurement or
● Uses a deadly weapon.
You can also be convicted of aggravated battery if you knew or should have known that the injured party is pregnant. Aggravated battery is considered a second degree felony with punishment as severe as up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
What is a Deadly Weapon Under Florida's Aggravated Battery Laws?
A charge of aggravated battery versus simple battery can mean the difference between a felony conviction or a misdemeanor conviction. Penalties for a misdemeanor are much less severe than those for a felony. Rather than 15 years imprisonment and thousands of dollars in fines, punishment for a second degree misdemeanor is only a maximum of 60 days in jail and up to $500 in fines.
One of the crucial issues you may face if charged with aggravated battery is whether or not you used a deadly weapon. Obviously, guns and knives are inherently deadly weapons, but what about a shovel as with the incident discussed above?
A shovel isn't a deadly weapon unless it is used in a way that is likely to cause severe bodily injury. In the case above, it could be argued that Mr. Carosella used the shovel in such a way that it constituted a deadly weapon. Then again, if the man's injuries were not severe, it's possible the shovel shouldn't be treated as a deadly weapon. Only an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you develop the appropriate legal defense for your situation.
If you are charged with aggravated battery, there are certain defenses available to you. Perhaps the most obvious is that of self-defense. Under Florida law, a person can use force if the person reasonably believes their force is justified in defending themselves or another against another's unlawful force. In most cases, you cannot use deadly force in self-defense but there is an exception. If you reasonably believe your life or another's life is under imminent threat, you may use deadly force so long as you are not also engaged in criminal activity and you have a right to be where you are.
Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Ready to Help You
If you or someone you know has been charged with aggravated or simple battery in Florida, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. An effective defense can save you thousands in fines and reduce or eliminate the amount of prison time you may be facing. Musca Law is a team of criminal defense attorneys with over 100 years of combined experience defending charges of all nature, including weapons charges. Please call us any time of the day for a free consultation.