In Florida, there are numerous crimes that are similar but distinct. For example, battery can be charged as a misdemeanor or a crime of domestic violence. While the distinction may seem irrelevant to the average person, there are significantly different penalties imposed for each offense. As such, if a defendant is sentenced based on the incorrect battery charge, it may constitute grounds for a reversal. This was demonstrated recently in a Florida case in which the court determined that the defendant was entitled to resentencing after the instructions delivered to the jury at his trial failed to mention domestic violence. If you are accused of battery, it is advisable to contact a St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney to determine what defenses you may be able to assert.
Procedural History of the Case
Reportedly, the defendant was charged with multiple crimes, including domestic battery. The instructions given to the jury during his trial failed to mention domestic violence in any way, however. Instead, the instruction merely referred to the general battery statute. The jury nonetheless convicted the defendant of domestic violence battery. The sentencing court subsequently treated the battery charge as a crime of domestic violence and sentenced the defendant accordingly. The defendant appealed, arguing that his sentence was improper.
Sentencing for Florida Battery Crimes
The appellate court agreed with the defendant and ruled that he was entitled to resentencing. The appellate court explained that, under Florida law, battery may be considered a first-degree misdemeanor if it is the offender’s first conviction. In order for battery to be weighed under the domestic violence statute, it must include the death or physical injury of one household or family member by another household or family member.
Further, the court noted that domestic violence designations trigger mandatory sentences under Florida law. The appellate court pointed out that the jury only received a charge on misdemeanor battery and was not asked to make findings regarding the victim’s status as a family or household member of the defendant or their injury or bodily harm. Thus, it determined that the defendant was convicted of misdemeanor battery, not domestic battery, regardless of the fact that the jury was given the domestic battery charge.
The appellate court ruled, therefore, that the trial court should not have sentenced the defendant using the domestic battery designation. Based on the foregoing, it reversed the defendant’s sentence and remanded the matter for further proceedings in accordance with its ruling.
Discuss Your Charges with a Capable Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
Battery is considered a violent crime, and people convicted of battery offenses can face significant penalties. If you are charged with battery or any other criminal offense, it is wise to meet with an attorney to develop a strategy to protect your interests. The capable St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys of Hanlon Law are proficient at helping people charged with crimes mount compelling defenses, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf. You can reach us at 727-897-5413 or via the form online to set up a conference.