In the state of Georgia, assault and battery are two different crimes, though they are often grouped together. Assault typically refers to a person’s threat of or attempted harm another person. Battery, on the other hand, refers to physical contact and the injury actually done to another person. As such, it’s easy to link the two crimes together. However, these two crimes are often committed separately.
According to Georgia Code 16-5-23.1, simple battery is committed when the perpetrator intentionally makes physical contact of a provoking or insulting nature to another or intentionally causes visible bodily harm or otherwise substantial physical harm to the victim. Visible injury includes cuts, bruises, black eyes, swollen lips and other obvious signs of violence.
However, not all injuries are visible. For instance, a strike that causes internal bleeding may be grounds for battery charges.
Some states include emotional or mental abuse as a form of battery. However, Georgia courts almost always uphold the “impact rule,” meaning the victim must have been physically harmed to bring battery charges against the assailant. But, there have been some exceptions to this rule.
Regardless, if a person is convicted of simple battery, the punishment is jail time of 10 days to 12 months, and/or a fine of no more than $1,000. In some cases, however, the consequences may be more severe. As such, it is crucial to have an experienced Georgia battery defense attorney from Hawkins Spizman Fortas by your side.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE SIMPLE MISDEMEANOR RULE
There are quite a few reasons why your battery charge in Atlanta may be escalated beyond a simple misdemeanor. These include:
- On the third conviction (and all subsequent convictions), battery is treated as a felony, punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison.
- If the battery is considered a domestic crime, the first conviction is a misdemeanor, but the second and subsequent convictions are felonies, punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison.
The charge of battery is considered a “misdemeanor of high and aggressive nature,” punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $5,000, if the crime is committed:
- On public transit or in a public transit station;
- Against a pregnant woman;
- Against a person 65 years or older;
- Against current or former spouse, a foster child or person living in the same household;
- Against a teacher or other school personnel while they are performing their duties;
- Against a resident of a long-term care facility by an employee, volunteer or agent;
- Against a sports official while officiating an amateur content or while on or exiting the property; or,
- Against a correction officer, detention officer, or police officer engaged in their official duties.
DEFENSES AGAINST SIMPLE BATTERY IN GEORGIA
There are several possible defenses to simple battery. After reviewing your case, we may argue that you did not have intent or there was no actual physical contact. The battery may have occurred during a situation where you were defending yourself, others or property.
You may have had permission to touch the other person, or you may be completely innocent of the situation as evidenced by the testimony of a witness who is able to provide you with an alibi.
As Georgia battery defense attorneys, we must also point out that there are things that will not work as a defense. For example, a defendant cannot use the fact that they did not realize injury was inflicted as a defense to their charges.
The battery cannot have occurred as the result of a joke, and it will not matter if the victims were one’s parents or other family members. However, reasonable corporal punishment by a parent to a child is not considered battery.
AGGRAVATED BATTERY IN GEORGIA
Aggravated battery is a more serious crime than simple battery. According to Georgia Code 16-5-4, this crime occurs when the assailant maliciously causes harm to another. “Malicious injury” is classified as depriving the victim of a part of their body; rendering a body part useless; or causing serious disfigurement.
Generally, aggravated battery is punishable by 1 to 20 years in prison. However, there are exceptions to this rule as well.
- against a peace officer or correctional officer while in their line of duty is punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison.
- against a person 65 years or older; on public transit; or upon a student or teacher within a school safety zone is punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison.
- that is classified as a domestic crime is punishable by 3 to 20 years in prison.
Some examples of what may be considered aggravated battery are shooting someone with a firearm and striking a person with some type of dangerous object, along with the things that would cause a charge of simple battery to be elevated.
Aggravated battery may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony and will be dependent on the circumstances, the action and the victim. The resultant injury or injuries will also be taken into consideration in the determination of the level of the crime.
Aside from prison time, a person convicted of aggravated battery may have to pay the victim restitution. A judge may use their discretion to assign the convicted party to probation for all or a portion of their sentence. This is, of course, handled on a case-by-case basis and should not be considered a potential outcome for every instance of aggravated battery.
CONTACT GEORGIA BATTERY DEFENSE ATTORNEYS TODAY
The courts of Georgia tend to be quite severe when handing down punishments for battery, especially if it is aggravated. As such, if allegations are brought against you, you need experienced Georgia battery defense attorneys who will represent you in court to have the charged reduced — or possibly dropped.
If you’ve been charged with battery in Atlanta or the surrounding area, simple or aggravated, call Hawkins Spizman Fortas today at 770-651-0166 for a free case evaluation. In battery cases, time is of the essence to gather evidence to strengthen your case — don’t delay. We will fight aggressively for your freedom. Call now.