Have you been Charged with Battery in Georgia?
If you or a loved one have been charged with battery, you will need an experienced lawyer to help you navigate through the process. Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia 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. Waiting may have severe 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 crimes: simple battery, battery, and aggravated battery.
Georgia Law on Battery
O.C.G.A. §16-5-23.1: A person commits the offense of battery when he or she intentionally causes substantial harm or visible bodily harm to another.
Furthermore, the statute defines “visible bodily harm” as “bodily harm capable of being perceived by a person other than the victim and may include, but is not limited to, substantially blackened eyes, substantially swollen lips or other facial or body parts, or substantial bruises to body parts.”
In Johnson v. State. 260 Ga. App. 413, (2003), the defendant was found guilty of the offense of battery. In this case, Officer Edwards investigated a domestic disturbance call at the home of Johnson and victim, Sutton. Edwards observed that Sutton had scrapes and bruises on her neck consistent with being choked and she told him that Johnson had thrown her up against a wall. The Court found that there was sufficient evidence that Johnson committed a battery against Sutton by satisfying the criteria of intentionally causing visible bodily harm to another. Therefore, Johnson was convicted of battery.
What has to be Proven
To be convicted of battery, the State must demonstrate that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. With regards to battery, there must be a showing that the suspect intended to make physical contact.
Penalty for Battery in Georgia
The penalty if found guilty of battery is a misdemeanor. The consequences may include confinement of up to one year and a fine up to $1,000.
A second conviction for battery against the same victim will have a penalty of confinement for no less than ten days nor more than twelve months and/or a fine not to exceed $1,000.00.
If the battery is committed between past or present spouses, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living in a household, then the crime will be labeled family violence battery and shall be punished as a misdemeanor. A second or subsequent conviction of family violence battery against the same or different victim will be deemed a felony and shall be punished by confinement for no less than one year nor more than five years. O.C.G.A. §16-5-23.1 (f)
However, there are certain situations in which the battery conviction will be escalated to a misdemeanor of a high or aggravated nature. The penalty for battery of a high or aggravated nature is up to one year confinement and/or fines. 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 could be awarded by the Court is for the defendant to pay 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 could be subject to this consequence.
Also, 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 would also be conditions they would have to satisfy such as submitting to drug tests, performing community service, attending counseling, etc.
Defenses to Battery
There was no contact: Physical contact is required for the crime of battery. Therefore, if there was no contact, then a suspect cannot be convicted of battery. Even if not guilty of battery, a suspect could still be convicted of another crime such as 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 at risk of being injured 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.
Lack of Intent: Because intent is an element that is required to establish battery, a showing that you lacked the intent to commit the crime would be highly beneficial to your case.
It was not a substantial injury or visible: The statute requires that that the harm either be substantial or some type of visible bodily harm. If the damage does not satisfy either of those circumstances, then you cannot be convicted of 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 less serious 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; mere pain is sufficient to show physical injury. Meja v. State, 232 Ga. App. 548, (1998).
It was just a joke: Whether or not the threat was serious does not generally matter unless the threat was so unbelievable that the victim could not have honestly believed harm would come from it. If the victim was put in reasonable apprehension that a violent act could or was going to occur, then that is grounds for battery.
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 Battery Attorney will investigate all the details surrounding your case and evaluate your options. Lawson and Berry and their team of Battery Attorneys will work with you to fight your charge and avoid a conviction. Call today and schedule a free consultation.