A battery or aggravated battery on certain officials, such as police officers, firefighters, probation officers, and others are serious offenses and carried enhanced penalties, including possible mandatory minimum prison sentences. A battery on a police officer is defined as the unlawful touching of a police officer. An aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer is the unlawful touching of a law enforcement officer during which you either cause great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement or you used a deadly weapon.
The charge will be increased from a misdemeanor to a 3rd degree felony. • 5 years in prison/probation
The charge will be increased from a 2nd degree felony to a 1st degree felony • 30 years in prison/probation
Minimum mandatory prison sentence of 5 years if the victim is a law enforcement officer. The minimum mandatory does not apply if the victim was another protected special victim or official, such as a firefighter.
If you are facing a mandatory minimum prison sentence, the court is not allowed to withhold the adjudication of guilt or defer or suspend the imposition of the sentence. This means you would be taken into custody the day of your sentence. You would also not be eligible for statutory gain-time or other form of discretionary early release until you have served the mandatory minimum time in prison.
Several defenses in addition to the usual defenses to battery and aggravated battery are available.
Under Florida Statute 784.07 several victims would qualify for the special protections. They include:
Emergency medical care providers, such as ambulance drivers and paramedics • Firefighters
Law Enforcement Explorers
Law Enforcement Officers (this includes police officers, deputies, Florida Highway Patrol Officers, corrections officers and probation officers)
Public Transit Employee (such as bus drivers, train operators)
Railroad Special Officer (that includes any person employed by railroad).
Battery cases sometimes happen in a split second and that means that it is possible you may have been acting before you realized that the other person was a law enforcement officer. You wouldn’t know that someone works for the police if the are wearing plain clothes until that person actually identifies him or herself with a badge.
In order for the state to enhance the battery charges against you because of the status of the victim, the victim would have to be engaged in the lawful execution of their duty. For example in the case of a police officer, this means the officer was trying to arrest you or was in the process of lawfully searching your car or property. That means that if for some reason the officer did not have the legal right to search your property and was therefore fore mistaken about his authority, the charges against you could be dismissed or you could be found not guilty at trial.
If someone attacks you first, you usually have a right to defend yourself. That is called self defense. In the case of a battery against a police officer or law enforcement officer this is more complicated. If the officer is lawfully arresting you, you would not be allowed to defend yourself. However, if the officer was using excessive force, then you would still be able to defend against the use of the excessive force. Furthermore, if the officer is in the process of arresting you and is touching you in a way that is causing reflexive, involuntary movements on your part, you would also not be guilty.
Prosecutors usually take battery and aggravated battery cases very serious especially when they involve a police officer. This means that you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side, who is able to explore and find any and all weaknesses in the state’s case and who can effective defend you against the charges. Kerstin Wade has over 10 years of experience and is well-versed in the law. Contact us today at 813-401-0130 to discuss your case with Kerstin.