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Aggravated Battery

Key Takeaways:

  • To prove aggravated battery, prosecutors will usually need to prove that you intended to make contact with the victim, that the victim did not consent, and that the victim suffered some kind of harm. 
  • Consent of the victim and self-defense are defenses to aggravated battery. 
  • Aggravated battery is almost always a felony, which can mean serious penalties for a conviction.

The charge of aggravated battery is a serious offense that can come with severe consequences if you are convicted. While the exact elements of and punishments for aggravated battery vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, it is almost universally considered a felony.

It’s important to know how you’re being charged and what your charges mean in order to build your defense against an aggravated battery indictment or accusation. This article answers some questions you might have. The best way to defend yourself is to hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to guide you through the process.

What Is Battery?

Many states have “simple” battery or “aggravated” battery charges. These categories of battery mean different penalties and requirements for conviction.

  • Simple battery: Simple battery is usually defined as any unwanted contact, whether it’s harmful or just offensive, from one person to another. This is why it’s often joined with assault as assault and battery. It often only results in minor injuries or even no physical injuries at all. The prosecution does not have to prove you had the intent to harm the person in a simple battery case. They only have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt you had the intent to make the contact that led to the harm. Simple battery may be a misdemeanor, with much lighter penalties than an aggravated battery conviction.
  • Aggravated battery: This is a much more serious charge. Like a simple battery, the prosecution must prove that you intended to make contact with the victim, that the victim did not consent, and that the victim suffered some kind of harm. In addition, they will usually need to prove that you intended to cause harm. An even more serious degree of aggravated battery will require great bodily harm. Permanent disfigurement, serious bodily injury, permanent disability, or possible risk of death are some of the ways an injury is considered great bodily harm. Sometimes, if you use a dangerous weapon or a deadly weapon like a gun or a knife in the battery, it will automatically count as aggravated, even without grave bodily harm. If the circumstances are severe enough, you could face an attempted murder charge or a sentencing enhancement.

What Are the Penalties for Aggravated Battery?

If convicted of aggravated assault or battery, the harshness of your penalty will depend on a number of factors, including where you were when you allegedly committed the act. Every state’s classifications of the degrees of aggravated battery will vary.

In most states, a first-time conviction for aggravated battery as a second-degree felony can bring a prison sentence of five to 15 years. This may be lower or higher in some circumstances.

Serious cases of aggravated battery may be charged as a first-degree offense that could potentially lead to life in prison. Charges are usually elevated if you’ve been convicted of aggravated battery or another violent offense in the past, if this battery was part of a sexual battery, committed in the course of domestic violence, or if the victim was particularly vulnerable, like a child or an elderly person.

Aggravated battery charges can include hefty fines. Victims could also bring you to civil court to make you pay for their medical bills and other costs associated with their injuries.

Are There Defenses to Aggravated Battery?

Yes. These are possible defenses that might be available to you to prove your innocence in an aggravated battery case:

  • Self-defense, defense of others, defense of property: One of the most common defenses is self-defense. If you reasonably believed that you were in immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death, that someone else was in imminent danger, or you were acting in defense of property, you may be able to argue that your force was justified.
  • Consent: If the alleged victim consented to the actions that resulted in the injury, it can be a valid defense. However, this defense can be complex and may not apply in all situations.
  • Mistaken identity: If you can demonstrate that you were not the person who committed the crime, you can use a mistaken identity defense.
  • Lack of intent: If you did not intend to cause harm or were not aware your actions could lead to harm, the defense of lack of intent might be applicable.

It’s important to remember that the availability and success of these defenses can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Consulting with a legal professional is essential to determine the best defense strategy in an aggravated battery case.

How Should I Defend Myself?

Your defense for aggravated battery should begin as soon as you are arrested or learn you are under investigation. Any missteps early on in the investigation, such as saying or doing the wrong thing, could decrease your chances of acquittal and increase your penalties.

It’s likely in your best interest to find a criminal defense attorney with experience in criminal law and aggravated battery charges. A defense lawyer will know the process and could help you avoid lengthy a prison sentence.

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