Florida law permits the charge of aggravated battery in the following situations:
1) A battery committed against another with the intent of causing great bodily harm (serious injury), permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.
2) A battery committed against another with the use of a deadly weapon.
3) A battery committed against a pregnant woman.
For numbers 1 and 3, the charge of aggravated battery will be a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. For number 2, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon; this can be charged as a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
As explained in earlier posts, the charge of battery, by itself, is just a misdemeanor. When the injury caused to the alleged victim is great (this is a question of fact for the jury), the alleged victim is pregnant and the accused knows or should have known this fact, or the accused is alleged to have used a deadly weapon (this too is a question of fact for the jury), then the accused will be charged with aggravated battery.
Since aggravated battery is a violent felony, it is typically handled by higher-level, more experienced prosecutors.
As a former Miami-Dade prosecutor, I handled aggravated battery cases. I know firsthand how difficult, or how easy, these case can be to prove, depending on the facts. As a Miami-Dade County criminal defense attorney who handles aggravated battery cases in both Miami-Dade and Broward County, I can tell you that there are excellent defenses to these charges.
First and foremost, aggravated battery must be proven. You may have a situation where someone is guilty of the misdemeanor battery, but it does not rise to the level of aggravated battery. If retained early on in the process, I always like to examine the evidence to see if the felony charge can be reduced to a misdemeanor prior to filing. While the client would still be charged with a crime, I would much rather have a client charged with a simple misdemeanor in County Court than a serious felony in Circuit Court.
As well, self-defense applies to aggravated battery charges. If provoked to the point that you feel it is essential to use non-lethal or even potentially lethal force to save your self from harm or imminent death, Florida's Stand Your Ground law offers a complete defense.
I should also note, that if charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, and the "deadly weapon" alleged is a firearm, and the firearm is discharged (fired), 10-20-Life applies and the accused will face the 20-year mandatory minimum sentence.
Furthermore, many aggravated battery charges are built on the backs of witness testimony. If there is an injured person but no clear explanation as to how that person became injured, there cannot be a charge of aggravated battery. One of the essentials of any criminal prosecution is for the State of Florida to prove that (1) a crime was committed; and (2) the accused person committed the crime. If the only witness is the alleged victim, there may be inherent conflicts in the evidence simply because one person says one thing, and another (should the accused wish to testify) says another.
Since aggravated battery is a serious felony, don't be surprised if the State Attorney's Office - especially in Broward County - proceeds in the prosecution when their is no alleged victim on board. As stated before on this blog: DON'T EVER ASSUME THAT JUST BECAUSE THE ALLEGED VICTIM IS NOT ON BOARD THAT THE STATE WILL DROP THE CHARGES! That is a horrible defense strategy and one that often backfires. The present state of the law, especially with regard to domestic violence crimes, permits the State to prosecute an accused person even without the testimony of the alleged victim. So please, don't ever think that you are in the clear just because the alleged victim is not on board.
Even if the alleged victim is somebody that you know personally, and you are confident that they would never come to court to testify against you, think again. The State of Florida will use its awesome subpoena power to literally force your friend or loved one to come into court. The prosecutors will harass, threaten, even send detectives to their homes to bring them into court. If the alleged victim refuses, the prosecutor will ask the judge to hold that alleged victim in contempt of court. Many times, this scares the alleged victim into testifying. It is important to always be prepared to defend against charges, regardless of who may or may not be testifying.
Aggravated battery is a serious charge. Don't rest your laurels on witnesses failing to appear. Hire a qualified aggravated battery attorney who understands the State of Florida's strategy as much as his or her own.
I have prosecuted and defended many aggravated battery cases. I would like to discuss your case with you in a free, confidential phone or in-person consultation. Please call me, a Miami and Broward criminal defense attorney, today.