How To Stop Prosecutors From Using Leverage To Enhance Battery Penalties In Florida

What happens if someone is arrested for a felony battery on a law enforcement officer after being accused of a simple misdemeanor battery? Despite the fact that one charge is a felony punishable under Florida law for up to five years, sometimes it’s just the simple battery that could ruin one’s life. Incident to an instant investigation of a very recent simple battery an officer claims that he was struck by the Defendant.

Ali Batters the Beatles

Ali Batters the Beatles

So how could anything be worse than the underlying felony of battery on a law enforcement officer in cases in Clearwater, Florida? Well, if the defendant was accused by the original victim of inappropriately touching her crotch area as she walked along a sidewalk – which is bad enough. But the victim claims the defendant after leaving her alone for a minute or two then continued following her until touching her a second time in the crotch area thru her clothes. In this case if the facts are believed by prosecutors to be provable at trial they could file two criminal counts for each of the inappropriate touchings. In fact the crimes prosecutors would look at based on the totality of the victim’s allegations include aggravated stalking, false imprisonment, sexual assault as well as lewd and lascivious conduct. Any of which would be much more difficult to successfully defend than the allegation of any simple battery on which the defendant was arrested. In fact the allegations alone could ruin the defendant’s life no matter how the case would be resolved.

When there is any allegation of a crime of a sexual nature, prosecutors may elect to increase their leverage in the case by filing additional felony counts. There’s little to stop them from merely limiting themselves to the charges officer’s initially filed when making the arrest. In fact there’s ample opportunity, motive and incentives for prosecutors to leverage the initial simple battery charge by filing additional charges. Here the charges they would likely consider include but are not limited to stalking, false imprisonment, sexual assault and lewd and lascivious conduct.

Although facts may be found and summoned to dispute the victim’s testimony, the later battery on a law enforcement charge from the officer’s case makes disproving the earlier simple battery much more difficult. This is true because successful prosecutors will file the case on one charging document, known in Florida as an information, so that at trial the entire story from both events could be tied together as one narrative for the jury.

If alcohol consumption was a contributing factor, it’s important to note that alcohol is not an effective defense to a criminal Battery charge. And even if the defendant would have been a candidate to have the charges dismissed based on pretrial intervention, the sexual nature of the original simple battery arrest would force the State Attorney’s Office to decline the PTI application. In fact even achieving a withholding of adjudication would be unlikely.

Clearly, the best course of action would be to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation of the sexual assault as well as the battery on a law enforcement officer to determine if the witnesses are reliable, persuasive and honest. The investigation would include finding other witnesses or video evidence that undermines the simple battery charge as well as any of the felony charges the state of Florida could use as leverage to force a change of plea to guilty.

SUMO WRESTLING OR AGGRAVATED BATTERY: FINDING CRIMINAL ACTS BY USING FLORIDA JURY INSTRUCTIONS

Is it Sumo Wrestling or Aggravated Battery? How can you be certain of what constitutes a crime in Florida? 
The Florida Criminal Statutes may seem difficult to understand for those who aren’t Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyers as they often are even for those of us who are. The statutes are written in ways which may seem purposefully obscure and convoluted, not just so you won’t understand them, but with the hopeful intent that a well written law will narrow the breadth of a statute to capture only the acts which the Florida legislature actually intended to outlaw or at least make you hire an attorney or two.

when is wrestling a battery? check the florida jury instructions in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Largo and Clearwater Florida to be sure.
Sumo Wrestling or Battery?

The key to knowing the law is to find what is known as the elements of a criminal offense. The elements of a crime are a set of specific facts which must be proven for every Florida criminal violation of law. Many Florida trial lawyers find that the Florida Criminal Jury Instructions which have been approved by The Florida Supreme Court are a reliable way to find the actual elements of a crime which the prosecution must prove to convict. Jury Instructions are the actual instructions which a criminal trial judge gives to a jury before it deliberates on guilt or innocence in every criminal case. Because these instructions are given to citizen jurors, the language is as straight forward as possible with the goal of being easy to understand. Here’s an example of the Aggravated Battery instruction:

8.4 AGGRAVATED BATTERY 784.045, Fla. Stat.
To prove the crime of Aggravated Battery, the State must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt.  The first element is a definition of battery.
1. (Defendant)
  [intentionally touched or struck (victim) against [his] [her] will].
[intentionally caused bodily harm to (victim)].
Give 2a or 2b as applicable.
2. (Defendant) in committing the battery
a. intentionally or knowingly caused
[great bodily harm to (victim)]. 
[permanent disability to (victim)].
[permanent disfigurement to (victim)].
b. used a deadly weapon.
Definition.  Give if 2b alleged.
A weapon is a “deadly weapon” if it is used or threatened to be used in a way likely to produce death or great bodily harm.

The statute might be difficult to understand but the jury instructions are simple. The State of Florida to prove an Aggravated Battery must first prove that the Defendant touched or struck someone against the victim’s will, a simple battery. Then further must show that the Defendant intentionally caused either great bodily harm, disability or disfigurement. If a deadly weapon was allegedly used then the Jury would be given the definition of deadly weapon. Effectively using the Florida Criminal Jury Instructions isn’t just for Clearwater Criminal Attorneys, it’s also for all the Sumo wrestlers wanting to know what constitutes crime in the State of Florida.