The Crime of Battery

Batteries Aren’t Just Found in Your Junk Drawer

The Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorney’s at Banks & Brower have handled numerous cases involving the charge of battery. Many of us have been in a physical altercation of some type, if we admit it. Whether as a child, on the playground in middle school, with our sibling, our best friend, and, maybe, as an adult after a couple of drinks. Most people perceive a battery as a simple punch with a closed fist — like you see in every Kung Fu movie. However, the law recognizes battery on all different levels, and those will be discussed here.

The simplest battery is a Class B-Misdemeanor. IC 35-42-2-1 states, “a person who knowingly or intentionally touches another person in a rude, insolent, or angry manner, commits battery.” In layman’s terms, it means any touching done with malice or anger. Surprisingly, many people would be shocked to know they could be charged with battery for poking a finger in someone’s chest, by throwing a ball at them on purpose, or from a simple trip or push. The State of Indiana has actually, according to case law, charged a grown woman with battery for tossing an empty wine glass at another woman she was in a verbal argument with (though she was found not guilty!).

The most commonly charged battery is a Class A-Misdemeanor. The State typically brings this charge when there is an “injury to another person.” An injury can be pain, swelling, a laceration, a scratch, a bruise, or a contusion. Usually, if there is a visible injury, the State charges the A-Misdemeanor level of battery. However, a Class B – run of the mill – Misdemeanor Battery can become an A-Misdemeanor depending on the victim. For example, a simple battery (a battery without injury) can be raised to an A-Misdemeanor if committed against a law enforcement officer, an employee of a penal facility, firefighter, or community policing volunteer.

Yet, if that battery causes injury to a police officer, a person less than 14 when the perpetrator was 18 or older, a person with a mental or physical disability, a person previously a victim to the perpetrator, an endangered adult, an employee of a school corporation, a correctional officer, a health care provider (medic, nurse, etc.), firefighter, community policing volunteer, a family member/household member if the perpetrator was 18 and was committed in the presence of a child less than 16 — the battery becomes a Level 6 Felony, with a sentence potential of 6 months minimum to 2 1/2 months maximum.

Additionally, if bodily injury occurs during the battery, it can be charged as a Class B Misdemeanor under  IC 35-42-2-1(c). “Bodily injury” means any impairment of physical condition, including physical pain. IC 35-31.5-2-29. Bodily injury can include anything from bruises, lacerations, or physical pain.

If a battery is committed with a deadly weapon (and you’d be surprised to know almost anything can be determined to be “deadly”) and serious bodily injury is caused, it can be charged as a Level 4 Felony. It becomes a Level 3 Felony if it is committed against someone under 14 years of age by a person 18 years or older. It is also a Level 5 Felony if serious bodily injury is inflicted upon a pregnant woman. Finally, a battery can be charged as a Level 2 Felony if someone under the age of 14 dies as a result.

The Indiana legislature has also created a special class of crime for domestic related batteries under IC 35-42-2-1.3. That statute says, in part, that if someone knowingly or intentionally touches their current or former spouse or against someone they share a child with, and there is bodily injury, the battery can be charged as a Class A-Misdemeanor. However, that battery can become raised to a Level 5 Felony, if the perpetrator committed a previous battery against their spouse. In determining whether someone is considered a “spouse” either past or present, the court considers the following factors: (1) the duration of the relationship, (2) the frequency of contact, (3) the financial interdependence, (4) whether the couple is raising children together, and (5) whether the couple engages in domestic tasks necessary to maintain a household, etc.

Under IC 35-42-2-1.5, the legislature also created a category for Aggravated Battery. That statute says that if a person inflicts injury on a person that “creates a substantial risk of death or causes (1) serious permanent disfigurement, (2) protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ, or (3) the loss of a fetus” commits a Level 3 Felony.

Another example of battery can come about through no physical contact from person to person. How? Battery by Bodily Waste under IC 35-42-2-1(b)(2). That statute states that if a person, in a rude, insolent, or angry manner “places blood or another body fluid or waste on a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical responder, corrections officer, or department of child services employee, identified as such and while engaged in the performance of official duties, or coerces another person to place blood or another body fluid or waste on the law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical responder, corrections officer, or department of child services employee, commits battery by body waste, a Class B Misdemeanor ” However, battery by bodily waste can become more serious if communicable diseases are involved. Depending on the disease and the knowledge of the individual who transmitted it, the level of battery can rise all the way to a Level 2 Felony.

As anyone can see, the simple battery of the past is no longer. And, given the ranges of penalty for a battery can range so greatly, it’s important that you hire an attorney who know how to fight the charges. So, if you find yourself facing a charge of battery on any level, give the experienced Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower a call. As former prosecutors we know how to fight for and defend your rights every step of the way. Give us a call at (317) 870-0019, today.