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What Makes a Domestic Battery a Felony?

Domestic battery arrests are usually for a misdemeanor. However, there are situations that can land someone in jail for a felony for committing domestic battery. Felony charges are far more serious than the misdemeanors, and can affect your life forever. Knowing what make a domestic battery a felony can help you better understand, and avoid, these charges in the future. If you, or someone you know has been arrested for domestic battery in Volusia County, please contact Thompson Law, P.A. to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Matt Thompson at his Daytona Beach or DeLand office locations by calling (386) 463-4529, toll free at (877) 934-4529, or text him at (386) 337-2219.

What is Domestic Battery?

To get arrested for the crime of domestic battery, the police must find evidence to show that you unlawfully touched someone with the intent to cause harm. That’s right, the word is “touched,” not “hit”, “punched”, or “shoved.” A simple touching can land you in jail.

The victim must be someone you are in a dating relationship with, or someone you live with. This is what makes a regular battery a “domestic battery.” But what makes this battery a felony?

Great Bodily Harm

If the police find evidence that the victim suffered “great bodily harm,” “permanent disability,” or “permanent disfigurement,” then the crime becomes a third degree felony that is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison. The main difference is that the victim’s injuries are severe. Like I said earlier, a “touching” constitutes a battery, but to commit a “felony battery”, the injury must be severe. More than likely, the injury must be visible. Permanent disfigurement can be scaring and broken bones, and sometimes less. Permanent disability has a wide interpretation and there does not necessarily need to be a doctor to testify as to this fact.


Domestic battery by strangulation is another way a simple battery can be raised to a felony. The statute requires that the police establish proof that you impeded or prevented the normal flow of blood or air to your victim. The proof of this is less visible than “great bodily harm.” The victim can simply say that you placed your hands around their neck region, and if even for a millisecond impeded their ability to breathe, and you will likely be arrested for a felony battery. In my experience, I see this crime charged more often than “great bodily harm” because it’s easier to commit. There is no requirement that there be bruising on the victim’s neck, or broken blood vessels in their eyes. Simply stating that it happened will give the police enough probable cause to arrest you for this felony.

Committing the Battery While the Victim is Pregnant

To commit this crime again, only requires a touching. If the victim is pregnant at the time the battery is committed, then it is a felony. The statute does not require the suspect to even know whether the victim is pregnant, though it certainly helps the State prove the case if the suspect knew. In other words, the victim does not need to be “showing” and it doesn’t matter how far along the victim is in the pregnancy. The statute does not require there to be visible injury to the victim. A simple touching of a pregnant woman, coupled with the intent to cause harm, is enough to get you arrested for a felony.

Felony Battery Based on Your Prior Record

Beware of your prior record. If you have been arrested for battery before, this can become especially important. You may be facing a felony and not even know it. If you commit a simple domestic battery, the State can charge you with a felony based on your prior record. The statute says that if you were arrested for battery and were convicted previously, the second time can be a third degree felony. “Convicted” means that you entered a plea, or went to trial, and it includes if the first time, adjudication was withheld.

If you are arrested for battery, navigating the legal system can be daunting and dangerous. Misdemeanors can become felonies you may be facing substantial jail time. Before you do anything, contact attorney Matt Thompson to schedule a free consultation to discuss your charge for domestic battery by calling (386) 463-4529, toll free at (877) 934-4529, or text him at (386) 337-2219.

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