Simple battery is the unlawful application of force on another person which causes physical injury or an offensive touching. This type of battery is typically considered to be a misdemeanor. If convicted, an individual may receive up to a year in county jail and/or be required to pay a fine. Felony battery is a more serious criminal offense.

Felony battery is an unlawful use of force on another person. The force causes physical injury or an offensive touching. What makes this battery different from simple battery is the seriousness of the injury or whether another aggravating factor applies.

In a felony battery case, the application of force causes severe to permanent injuries rather than minor injuries. The injuries can often include:

  • Broken bones;
  • Severe cuts, lacerations, or stab wounds, often leading to scarring;
  • Unconsciousness or coma;
  • Paralysis;
  • Burns, including chemical burns; and/or
  • Various other serious injuries.

If the victim becomes deceased as a result of an attack, the charges will usually fall under the category of homicide crimes, though this may depend on the actual circumstances of the incident(s).

Are There Ways a Simple Battery Becomes a Felony?

As mentioned, a charge may increase from simple battery to felony battery if certain “aggravating factors” are present when the battery is committed. Aggravating factors can include:

  • Batteries involving a dangerous weapon, such as a knife or a gun;
  • Battery on a police officer, woman, or child;
  • Batteries involving a major discrepancy in size between the attacker and the victim; and
  • Instances where the attacker has had special training in combat or other uses of force.

Is Felony Assault the Same as Felony Battery?

No. Felony assault, or aggravated assault, is a criminal act done with the intent to create reasonable apprehension of fear an offensive contact or injury.

Unlike with felony battery, there does not need to be actual physical contact with the victim. In other words, the mere attempt to cause physical harm to the victim is enough to be charged with felony assault.

What are the Legal Consequences for Felony Battery Crimes?

As a felony crime, felony battery charges can result in serious legal and criminal consequences. These can include:

  • A sentence in prison (not county jail) of one year or more; and/or 
    • Depending on the severity of the battery
  • Criminal fines.

A person who has been convicted of a felony such as felony battery may also face other consequences with a criminal record. It is very difficult to get a felony expunged, and it can impact the rest of your life. From leasing a house/apartment, voting, owning a firearm, and finding a job.

Aside from the immediate consequences of imprisonment and/or a fine, a conviction of felony battery can change and forever alter your life.

Are there any Defenses to Felony Battery Charges?

A person facing felony battery charges may have some legal defenses available to them, depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident. Some of these may be complete defenses to the charges, while some may result in a partial reduction of the sentence or criminal consequences. Defenses may include:

  • Intoxication: In some cases, it may be a defense if the defendant was intoxicated at the time of the battery, especially in cases where the person no longer has control over their actions due to the intoxication. This is usually applied as a reduction in sentencing.
  • Self-Defense: It may be a defense to the battery charges if the person was acting in defense. In order to claim this defense, the person needs to have been attacked first, and they must only respond with the same amount of force used against them.
  • Duress: It may be a defense if person was under duress (i.e., someone was forcing or coercing them under the threat of harm). An example of this is where a person is held at gunpoint and forced to commit a battery upon another person.
  • Prevention of Crime: Some jurisdictions provide a defense for felony battery if it was done in an effort to prevent a crime from occurring.

Do I Need a Criminal Lawyer for a Felony Battery Case?

A felony battery charge is a serious criminal charge with potential felony consequences such as a long prison sentence. Contact a criminal lawyer near you regarding your felony battery charge immediately. They can explain any potential defenses that may be available to you and help you defend yourself against the charges in court.