Simple Battery In Florida: A Misdemeanor Charge

Florida criminal law prohibits someone from intentionally touching someone against their will, or from intentionally causing them bodily harm. The crime is called a “simple battery.” It’s a 1st-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail or probation and a $1,000 fine.  


This blog post explains what conduct constitutes a simple battery misdemeanor and what defenses exist to the charge. Avoiding convictions in Florida is the only way to keep from having a permanent, public criminal record. If you or your family member is charged with simple battery, an experienced criminal defense attorney near you in Hillsborough County or Pinellas County can often defeat the prosecution by raising powerful defenses based on the circumstances of your case. 


The Florida Misdemeanor Battery Statute § 784.03 


The criminal statute itself defines the crime of misdemeanor “battery” as either: 


  1. Actually, and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or 
  2. Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person. 


The battery will be charged as a 3rd-degree felony if the person accused has previously been convicted of: 


  • battery, 
  • aggravated battery, 
  • felony battery 
  • battery in furtherance of a riot. 


Felony battery carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison, probation, and a $5,000 fine. 


Keep Reading> Assault & Battery Charges in Florida  


Intentional Unconsented to Touching of Another 


The crime of battery requires that the unconsented touching of the other person be intentional. If your contact with the other person is not intentional, then no crime is committed. To convict a defendant charged with battery, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally touched the “victim” without the victim’s consent. 


But is any intentional touching of a person without their consent a criminal battery? No.


To be punishable as a battery, the unconsented touching must be offensive. For example, if someone falls to the pavement in front of you, and you reach out to help them up without asking for their consent, you haven’t broken the law. Even if they wave off your help, indicating that they can get up without your help, a helpful hand will not be charged as a criminal battery. 


However, any offensive touching of another person without their consent can constitute a battery, even if only slight physical contact occurs. For example, if two people are engaged in an emotional argument and one of them taps the other’s chest with a pointed index finger repeatedly, that unconsented touching could be offensive enough to be a battery. It would be unusual for any prosecutor to charge someone under those circumstances, but the facts could technically support the charge. 


No Injury Is Required to Constitute a Battery 


In the example we just used, in which a person gently jabbed their finger into the chest of another person during an argument, there was no injury at all. But the person being jabbed didn’t like it, and the jabber knew the person didn’t like it. That’s all that’s legally necessary.  


Remember, it is the alleged batter’s intention that is determinative. A different example is a scenario in which someone walks up from behind a stranger to ask for directions. When they get near enough, they tap the person on the shoulder a couple of times as they say, “Excuse me. Can you tell me where Main St. Is?” 


In both examples, someone taps the other person with a pointed finger without the person’s consent. But the difference is obvious; their intentions were different. One person intended to use their finger jabs to assert themselves offensively during an unfriendly exchange. The person looking for directions was merely performing a similar action to get the person’s attention so they could ask for help.  


Even though the person approached for directions may have objected to being tapped on the shoulder by a stranger and been offended by the uninvited contact, still no crime was committed because the stranger had no offensive intent. 


Can You Commit Simple Battery Without Touching the Other Person? Yes. 


Simple battery can be committed by someone who intentionally touches something connected to the “victim” but doesn’t actually have contact with the person’s body. The Florida Supreme Court held in 2001 that “there  need not be an actual touching of the victim’s person in order for a battery to occur, but only a touching of something intimately connected with the victim’s body.”


The case involved a defendant who intentionally used the truck he was driving to collide with the car the victim was driving. Though the defendant didn’t actually touch the victim’s body, the battery was completed. Other examples include situations in which someone slaps a phone out of someone’s hand, or forcefully grabs a purse being held by another person.  


You can also commit a battery by throwing an object at someone’s body, or by spitting on them. Your body need not contact the victim’s body if you intentionally caused an object to strike the person. 


Legal Defenses to Simple Battery Charges 


Anyone who is facing a charge of simple battery in Florida should immediately contact the most experienced criminal defense lawyer in your area. In the Tampa – St. Petersburg area, Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law, are among the small group of Board-Certified Criminal Defense Lawyers in the state.  

Our commitment to your defense means we use all of our resources and our complete focus to ensure that you receive the benefit of every legal right to which you are entitled. We work diligently to prevent any of our clients from negative outcomes and we take pride in our long history of effective and successful defenses in cases just like yours. 


  • Self Defense 
  • Defense of Others 
  • Defense of Property 
  • Consent (as in Mutual Combat) 
  • Stand Your Ground Law (F.S. § 776.013) 
  • Accidental Touching 
  • Lack of Intent 
  • Insufficient, Inconsistent, Unreliable, Incredible, Inadmissible Evidence 


The legal principle of “mutual combat” can mean that the “alleged victim” did actually consent to the defendant’s “touching” (punching) because they both willingly entered into mutual combat. With both parties mutually consenting to engage in combat, a battery charge will not stand. The defendant cannot rely on the defense of “mutual combat” if they were the initial aggressor.  



Tampa’s Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers for Simple or Felony Battery Charge 


Battery charges can have long-lasting impacts on your life. Call our attorneys at Stechschulte Nell to defend your case. We are on your side. Call 813-280-1244.  


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