Simple Battery Florida Statute

June 6, 2019

In Florida, the crime of Simple Battery is considered a first-degree misdemeanor, with penalties up to $1,000 in fines and a jail or probation sentence up to 12-months. Individuals facing misdemeanor battery charges have an excellent chance of defending themselves against the harsh consequences of a conviction by working with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

The Crime Of Simple Battery In Florida

Section 784.03 of the Florida Statutes defines the term battery as:

  • Actual and intentional touching or striking of another person against the targeted person’s will (non-consensual)
  • The intentional causing of bodily harm to another

Simple battery encapsulates cases where individuals do not use weapons, do not cause serious bodily harm, and cases where individuals do not engage in acts of domestic violence.

Requirements For Intent

In order for someone to be charged with simple battery, intent must be present. According to C.B. v. State, 810 So. 2d 1072 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002), an offender must commit either a specific voluntary act that causes harm to another or something substantially certain to result from the act.

Neither accidental touching or touching that is incidental to other conduct, which is not aimed at making contact with another person, constitutes battery under Florida law (Beard v. State, 842 So. 2d 174, 176-77 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003)). In Florida, the jury is charged with determining if intent exists by examining the evidence and circumstances of the touching or striking (Fey v. State, 125 So. 3d 828, 831 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013) (citing S.D. v. State, 882 So. 2d 447, 448 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004)).

Cases Involving Mutual Combat And Consent

When it comes to prosecuting a simple battery charge, it is required that the touching occurred without the consent of the alleged victim or against their will. The issue of whether simple battery is applicable is frequent in cases where two individuals are engaged in a fight. In acts of mutual combat, it is considered consensual. Mutual combat is a widely recognized defense against battery as both individuals are assenting to a physical altercation. It can, therefore, be assumed that both individuals consented to the touching as it is an understood consequence of engaging in a physical altercation.

According to Eiland v. State, 112 So. 2d 415 (Fla. 2d DCA 1959); A.L. v. State, 790 So.2d 1149 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001), both parties must, therefore, be at fault for the fight, and the defendant cannot be the primary aggressor or initiator of the fight.

Again, in determining whether consent was present, the jury will examine the circumstances surrounding the incident and take testimony from the alleged victim regarding consent. In some cases, Florida applies “Williams Rule” to evidence, which demonstrates the defendant’s prior violent behaviors toward the victim is relevant enough to prove that he or she intended to commit the crime of battery or that the victim did not consent.

Victims Are Not Required To Sustain Injuries For A Conviction

A person does not have to sustain injuries in order for a charge for simple battery to stick. The intentional touching against the victim by the offender is enough to prove that the crime was committed. So long as the evidence demonstrates that the offender touched the victim against his or her will, the existence or extent of injuries becomes irrelevant.

It is also important to note that direct contact is not required for a person to be charged with simple battery. Offenders can make indirect contact, by throwing objects or projecting objects at the victim. Indirect contact can constitute battery so long as it was conducted intentionally by the accused and was against the direct will of the victim (Mohansingh v. State, 824 So. 2d 1053, 1054-55 (Fla. 5th DCA 2002) ).

Indirect Contact By Throwing Objects At Victims

Under section 784.03 of the Florida Statutes, individuals do not need to actually touch the victim in order for battery to occur. Even acts of touching something intimately connected with the victim’s body can substantiate a criminal act.

Battery can occur by way of making direct non-consensual touching of the body as well as touching objects with the victim’s body. Some of the most common examples we see in Florida include striking another person with a wallet, cellular phone, handbags, clothing, or other objects which are held by or attached to another person. Even grabbing a handbag that is being held by the victim is enough to constitute battery in Florida.

Penalties For Battery In Florida

Individuals arrested for misdemeanor battery face an array of charges if convicted. Simple battery is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida, which can impose penalties up to one year in jail, 12 months of probation, and fines. In Florida, prosecutors often seek jail sentences or probation even for first-time battery offenders.

There are various factors that determine whether jail is sought for an offender. These factors include prior criminal records, the status and preference of the victim, the existence and severity of injuries, the strength of the prosecution’s case, the need to seek restitution, and whether the accused is adequately represented by an attorney.

Defenses To Simple Battery

There are various applicable defenses those accused of simple battery can use to argue their cases. Some of the most commonly used arguments include:

  • The act was self-defense
  • The act was done to protect another person or property
  • There was consent
  • There was mutual combat
  • There was a use of force under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law
  • The touching was accidental
  • The touching was incidental to another act not aimed at making contact
  • There were other factors or motivations that demonstrate a lack of intent
  • There is a lack of evidence or conflicting evidence

A Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You

If you or a loved one are being charged for simple battery in Florida, it is imperative to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. With over 150-years of combined experience, attorneys at Musca Law are knowledgeable and experienced in helping individuals have their simple battery charges dismissed or reduced. Contact our law firm at (888) 484-5057 to speak with a reputable attorney today.