Simple battery is the least form of battery in terms of severity under the law, but still carries dire consequences if you’re found guilty of committing the offense. If you’re facing a simple battery charge, it is imperative to know what it entails, the charges, penalties, and possible defense. That is the purpose of this article, keep reading to know more.
What is simple battery?
Simple battery happens when someone unlawfully touches someone else using force or violence. The act of touching, doesn’t have to cause harm or injury to be deemed simple battery. However, the forceful or violent touch must be deliberate, willful and not accidental in order to qualify.
Penalties for simple battery depends on specific state laws and can include time in county jail, fines and arms restrictions. Also the federal Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 restricts access to transportation, shipping or handling of arms by people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence which can include simple battery in a domestic violence situation.
Simple battery in California
In California, simple battery is defined under the California Penal Code 242 statute and categorizes the offense as misdemeanor battery. The penalty for a misdemeanor Ca battery charge include:
- Jail time of up to six months
- Fines of up to $2,000
- Restrictions on owning firearms & ammunition for a period of 10 years.
Simple battery in Georgia
In Georgia, the O.C.G.A. §16-5-23 is the statute that defines what constitutes simple battery. The statute states that, a person commits the offense of simple battery when they either:
- intentionally makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with the person of another
- intentionally causes physical harm to another.
OCGA Simple battery is prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense unless the victim is among the stated protected class of persons, which makes the offense an aggravated misdemeanor offense. The protected class of persons include:
- persons who are 65 years or older (Elder abuse),
- a pregnant female,
- a police officer, correctional officer or detention officer while on official duty,
- an employee of a public school in Georgia while such employee is engaged in official duties or on school property,
- a sports officiating officer at the collegiate, elementary or secondary school, or recreational level during or after a match while still on or exiting the property.
Battery family violence Georgia
Simple battery of high and aggravated nature also occurs when the offense is committed between past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons excluding siblings living or formerly living in the same household.
OCGA Simple battery penalty in Georgia
For a misdemeanor offense, the penalties involve up to 1 year in jail and fines of up to $1000. Aggravated misdemeanor offense carries a sentence of up to 1 year in jail and up to $5000 in fines.
Simple battery Florida
In Florida, simple battery is also known as a misdemeanor battery under the Florida statute Section 784.03, which states that a person commits the offense of misdemeanor battery when he or she:
- “Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other” or
- “Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person“.
Aggravating factors can escalate simple battery into a Felony offense of the third degree. These factors include:
- Having a prior battery, aggravated battery, or felony battery conviction (Whether by trial, plea or no contest plea),
- committing a battery in furtherance of a riot or an aggravated riot,
- Victim is a law enforcement officer on duty,
- victim is an emergency officer on duty, and
- victim is a firefighter.
Penalties for simple battery Florida
Simple battery in Florida is a first degree misdemeanor offense which attracts up to 1 year in jail, fines of up to $1000 and restitution where required.
Depending on the facts of the individual cases, a person may be able to avoid jail time and instead placed on probation for a period not exceeding 1 year.
First time offender simple battery
Having a prior record is always an aggravating factor which can bring you harsher sentences for subsequent offenses. For a first time offender of simple battery, a judge may prefer to issue a non-custodial sentence such as probation and community service in place of a jail time if found guilty.
Your attorney can also try to reach a deal with the prosecutor who may be willing given the fact that you’re a first time offender, in order to avoid going to trial.
Simple Battery defense
If you’re facing a simple battery charge, there are defenses considered viable under the law which, if found to be the case, can get your case dismissed or get you an acquittal. These defense points include:
1. Accidental touch
If you can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the touch was accidental rather than intentional and willful, a simple battery charge will not stick because the intent requirement by the law will be lacking.
Self-defense is a viable defense for a charge of simple battery, but the circumstance need to satisfy certain requirements under the law. You must show that:
- there was a threat of unlawful violence or harm against you,
- you honestly believed you were in danger of being harmed,
- you did not provoke the violence,
- you had no opportunity to avoid the situation by either retreating or escaping.
3. No contact
Since simple battery requires that there be an actual touch, if you can prove that no touch occurred, a simple battery charge will not stick. However, you be convicted for other charges such as assault.
If you believe you’re being accused wrongly of simple battery, you would need an alibi whose testimony would prove that you could not have committed the offense.
5. Consensual battery
If you can prove that victim consented to the act, then it can be a viable defense. However, the force shouldn’t have exceeded the limit agreed upon.
6. Defense of property
Another valid defense for a simple battery charge, is if the offense was committed in defense of your property against theft, vandalism or any act that infringes on your right and interest in the property.
An example is striking a thief while pursuing him or her to retrieve your stolen item. The force however, must be reasonable.
There are other defense strategies that your attorney can apply based on the specifics of your case. Speak with your attorney to decide the best defense for your case.
Simple battery is punishable under the law, and depending on your state, the applicable penalty may differ. Generally, it is a misdemeanor offense which can be escalated into a felony offense if the stated aggravating factors exist.