Battery is one of the few charges that gets worse the more convictions you have. Much like Driving Under the Influence, if you continue to accumulate battery convictions on your record, the State Attorney’s Office has the ability to charge you with a felony in situations that would otherwise be considered a misdemeanor. An arrest for battery can create a web of legal issues you must face that could include,
- being stripped of your rights to carry a firearm,
- having to be placed on court ordered pretrial services until your case is resolved,
- facing jail time, and/or
- having the court order you to avoid any contact with the alleged victim.
There are two common misnomers that I often hear about battery. The first is that there must be a visible injury to the victim to be convicted of battery. While a visible injury such as a bruise, scrape, or red mark is certainly evidence that will help the State secure a conviction against you, it is not required for the State to prove injury. Second, the victim cannot “drop charges” against the accused. Only the State can drop charges against the accused. There are certain situations where a victim will want the State to drop charges, but the State will refuse and proceed with trial against the accused and require the victim to be present and testify as to what they told the police on the night of the incident.How Do You Defend a Charge of Battery?
As with any criminal case, it is important to remember that you, as the Defendant, are innocent until proven guilty. This means that it is up to the State to show that you committed a crime – it never falls on you as the Defense to prove your innocence. To prove the crime of Battery, the State must prove the following two elements beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt:
- The Defendant intentionally touched or struck the alleged victim against his or her will, and:
- The Defendant intentionally caused bodily harm to the victim.
While crime scene television shows make us believe that the State must produce some DNA or forensic evidence to prove a crime, often times Battery cases are proven by using the testimony of the victim only. Because the State typically relies on eye-witness evidence, the credibility of the witnesses becomes a key component in your defense. As the defense, we can present evidence of bias to a jury that would show why the alleged victim or eye witnesses’ may not be telling the whole truth. Or, we could present evidence such as the alleged victim’s or eye witnesses’ level of impairment from drugs or alcohol that may have resulted in their inability to correctly perceive or remember the events from the alleged battery.
Having an experienced defense attorney is your best chance to have a favorable outcome when faced with a Battery charge. If convicted, a first time offender for battery could be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail, 12 months of probation, and a fine of $1,000. If you have been convicted of a battery in the past, any subsequent battery charges become third degree felonies, punishable by up to 5 years in jail, 5 years of probation, and a fine of $5,000.