The charge is similar to resisting an officer with violence. However, battery on a law enforcement officer requires an intentional touching or striking against a cop, whereas resisting an officer with violence requires an offer to do violence or actual violence while the officer is engaged in a lawful duty.
Batt LEO is simply a battery with the added element that the alleged victim is a police officer.
The law requires that the accused knows that the alleged victim is a police officer. It is not enough for the accused to strike somebody and later learn that the alleged victim was a police officer. The accused must know at the time of the battery that the alleged victim is a police officer.
The batt LEO statute also applies to assistant state attorneys and firefighters.
What's difficult about defending clients charged with batt LEO is the fact that when a police officer is a victim, he or she usually becomes overly indignant. Whereas a first-time offender should receive Pretrial Intervention, the State Attorney's Office has taken a hardline stance giving police officer victims almost a complete say as to what happens to somebody charged with battery on a law enforcement officer.
In other words, the State Attorney will only make a plea offer based on the recommendation of the police officer victim. If the police officer victim thinks you should be convicted of a felony and serve jail or prison time, the prosecutor will seek such a sentence. Even if you have never been arrested before.
Due to this, many batt LEO cases end up in trial.
It is my experience that physical altercations with police are never one-sided. If you touch a cop, chances are that he or she will beat the holy hell out of you. So if the allegation is that you slapped a cop on the shoulder, is it a proportional response to slam you to the ground and break your nose? I'm not kidding. I have had clients come into my office with bruises and broken bones. And these clients were charged with committing violence against a police officer.
Photos are very important. If you have been beaten by police, take lots of pictures as soon as you can. Nobody likes abusive cops. If a jury sees a blown-up photo of you looking like you've just gone 12 rounds with Manny Pacquiao, they are far more likely to take pity on you, not the hulking cop who suffered a scratch at your hands (allegedly).
Nevertheless, batt LEO is a serious felony that requires strong defense. I am a Miami-Dade County criminal defense attorney who represents clients in the Miami-Dade and Broward areas.
Contact me today for a free and confidential assessment of your case.