Have you been Charged with Aggravated Battery in Georgia?
Battery and various other crimes against a person require a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer to help sort through the intricate details of your case. Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Aggravated Battery Attorneys are experts in this field and are committed to helping you fight the charge. Remember, a charge is not the same as a conviction so call us today to schedule a free consultation. Don't wait to act; it could have detrimental consequences for you and your loved ones.
Battery is often confused with the crime of assault. However, many people do not know that there are three types of battery: simple battery, battery, and aggravated battery.
Georgia Law on Aggravated Battery
O.C.G.A. §16-5-24, A person commits the offense of aggravated battery when he or she maliciously causes bodily harm to another by depriving him or her of a member of his or her body, by rendering a member of his or her body useless, or by seriously disfiguring his or her body or a member thereof.
Some examples of aggravated battery include:
- Striking a person with a weapon or dangerous object,
- Shooting someone with a gun,
- A battery that resulted in the victim suffering temporary disfigurement,
- A battery that resulted in the victim suffering permanent disfigurement or other serious physical injury, or;
- Battery against particular people groups that are protected such as police officers, healthcare providers, social services workers, or the elderly and developmentally disabled.
The crime of aggravated battery does not require that a victim's disfigurement be permanent. However, the injury must be more severe than a mere visible or superficial wound.
A suspect was found guilty of aggravated battery in violation of O.C.G.A. §16-5-24 in Levin v. State. 334 Ga. App. 71, (2015). In this case, the suspect, Levin, was banging on the door of his ex-wife's house, the victim. She called the police but while she was on the phone Levin had broken into the house and punched through the bedroom door so he could unlock it and get to the victim. Levin made the daughter leave the house after he entered the room. Once she left, Levin held a gun to victim's head, made threats, slapped her, choked her, and dragged her around with his arm around her throat. He also pistol-whipped her, kicked her in the stomach, slammed her into the refrigerator, and rammed his fingers and the gun into her eye. Levin held his ex-wife hostage for 12 hours. During the trial, Levin attempted to argue that there was insufficient evidence to support an aggravated battery conviction because the bruises to the victim's face did not rise to the level of severe disfigurement. However, the Court disagreed. Police officers at the hospital observed victim's injuries and noticed her bruises and swollen face as well as injuries to her hands and feet. The Court found there her visible injuries were sufficient to support a conviction for aggravated battery.
Another case in which a suspect was convicted of aggravated battery is Young v. State. 332 Ga. App. 361, (2015). The suspect, Young, was in a fingerprinting room of Henry County jail. A correctional officer entered the room to retrieve the set of gloves from Young, and when she leaned over, Young raised his cuffed hands and struck the officer's head with his fists. The office fell against a door and lost consciousness. Young tried to argue at trial that there was insufficient evidence to authorize a conviction for aggravated battery. The Court found that Young did maliciously cause harm to the correctional officer as she suffered nerve damage and some memory lapses from the blow to her head. Also, the Court gave Young an increased sentence because he committed the crime against a correctional officer who was engaged in her official duties. Therefore, Young was found guilty of aggravated battery under O.C.G.A. §16-5-24 and received an increased sentence.
What has to be Proven
To be convicted of aggravated battery, the State must demonstrate that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. With regards to aggravated battery, there must be a showing that the suspect intended to make physical contact. If the battery was based on physical injury, then the State must present evidence of the injury and the severity of the injury. Whether or not a disfigurement is severe is almost always a question for the jury to resolve. On the other hand, if the battery was committed with a deadly weapon, then the State must include evidence about the weapon.
Penalty for Aggravated Battery in Georgia
If found guilty of aggravated battery, the penalty will be confinement for no less than one year and no more than twenty years. Aggravated battery can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. To determine the punishment, judges could consider evidence about the circumstances when the crime occurred, the extent of the injuries received, whether there was a relationship between the victim and suspect, and if the suspect had a criminal record.
The penalty for committing aggravated battery that results in temporary disfigurement may be deemed a misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in confinement.
Committing aggravated battery by use of a deadly weapon is generally deemed a felony.
However, there are certain situations in which the aggravated battery crime will receive an amplified punishment. This includes:
- If the battery is committed in a public transit vehicle or station. O.C.G.A. §16-5-23.1(g)
- If the crime is committed against a female, who is pregnant. O.C.G.A. §16-5-23.1(h)
- If the battery is committed against a teacher or other school personnel engaged in their duties on school property. O.C.G.A. §16-5-23.1(i)
- If the battery is against a person, who is 65 years old or older. O.C.G.A. §16-5-23.1(j)
- If the person who committed the battery is an employee, agent, or volunteer at a long-term car facility and the victim is a person who is admitted to or receiving services from such facility or person. An example of a long-term care facility is an assisted living community or personal care home. O.C.G.A. §16-5-23.1(k)
- If the battery was against a sports official during an amateur contest or while the official is on or exiting the property. O.C.G.A. §16-5-23(l)
Another penalty that may be ordered by the Court is restitution to the victim. Restitution is where the defendant reimburses the victim for any expenses that resulted from the crime committed against them. It could include the cost of medical treatment or counseling. Anyone in Georgia that is convicted of assault or battery may be subject to this consequence.
There is a possibility that the court would impose probation instead of jail time for part of the sentence or instead of a jail sentence. This is left to the judge's discretion and is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If put on probation, the defendant would be required to meet regularly with a probation officer. There may also be conditions they would have to satisfy such as submitting to drug tests, performing community service, attending counseling, etc.
Aggravated Battery Defenses in Georgia
The injury was not severe: It will be left up to the jury to decide whether or not the injury was serious. However, even if the damage is not permanent, it can still be considered severe.
Lack of Intent to cause great bodily harm or disfigurement: While intent is not an element listed in the statute, the Court will look at whether a suspect maliciously caused bodily harm to another. If it was accidental without malice, then the suspect could have a defense.
The instrument used should not be considered a deadly weapon within the meaning of the statute: If a weapon could not be considered a deadly weapon under the statute, then you may have a defense for aggravated battery. However, even if you were acquitted of an aggravated battery charge, you could still face charges for another crime such as simple battery or assault.
Self Defense: This is a common defense used in assault and battery cases. However, there are some things that you must show to establish that self-defense was necessary. You must show that (1) there was a threat of unlawful force or harm against you; (2) there was a reasonable basis for your fear of injury to yourself;(3) you did not provoke the threat; and (4) there was no reasonable chance for you to escape or retreat. One of our highly skilled Battery Lawyers can assist you with establishing this defense.
Defense of Others: This argument is similar to regular self-defense with the only difference being that you must honestly believe that another person is in danger of being harmed. The victim must reasonably believe that they are in danger of being harmed to satisfy this defense.
Defense of Property: If you used reasonable force when defending your property, such as your home, then you may have an argument that the battery was justified. An example is if someone stole your purse or bag, then you could have the right to use reasonable force to recover that property. There is not a bright line rule on when an owner is allowed to use reasonable force. Instead, the Court rules on a case by case basis. Your Georgia Battery Attorney will assist you in arguing that the force used was necessary, and therefore, the charges should be dropped.
Consent: If you had consent to touch a person or commit an act, then it generally cannot be considered battery. However, if the touching exceeded the intended amount, then there still can be grounds for battery.
Innocence: An alibi or witness testimony that you could not have committed the crime is always valuable. It can also be useful if there is a case of mistaken identity.
While these are just some of the defenses your Attorney could use to help your case, every case is unique, and your Lawyer will evaluate your case to see which defenses will be the best option for your case. Your Attorney could negotiate on your behalf and try to work out a plea deal with fewer grave consequences or try to get the charges dismissed altogether.
What are not Defenses
The victim did not receive a severe injury: There is no requirement that a victim suffers great bodily harm in a battery case; minor pain is sufficient to show physical injury. Meja v. State, 232 Ga. App. 548, (1998).
But it was my parents: Sometimes people are under the misconception that you cannot be charged with a crime against your parents. However, this is not true. If you intentionally harmed your parents, stepparents, or foster parents, then you would most likely be charged with battery.
Having knowledgeable representation is of up the utmost importance when facing a criminal charge. Your Georgia Aggravated Battery Attorney will investigate all the details surrounding your case and evaluate your options. They will be available all the time to you – even nights and weekends – because your case is important. Lawson and Berry and their team of Aggravated Battery Attorneys will work with you to fight your charge and avoid a conviction. Call today and schedule a free consultation.