Florida Court Discusses Establishing Intent in Battery Cases

In Florida, many battery crimes include an element of intent. As such, the state must prove that a person possessed a certain state of mind in order to establish their guilt for a specific crime. Recently, a Florida court discussed what evidence the state must produce to demonstrate intent with regard to battery by strangulation in a case in which the defendant argued there was insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction. If you are charged with battery or any other violent crime, it is advisable to meet with a St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant and the victim, the defendant’s girlfriend at the time, were involved in an argument. The disagreement became physical, and the defendant picked up the victim by her neck, impairing her ability to breathe. The following day the victim called the police and reported the incident.

It is reported that the defendant was charged with battery by strangulation. He moved for acquittal, but the jury convicted him as charged. He appealed, arguing that the state failed to demonstrate he possessed an intent to impede the victim’s breathing as required to establish guilt. The appellate court disagreed and affirmed his conviction.

Establishing Intent in Battery Cases

Under Florida law, a court should not grant a motion for judgment of acquittal unless it determines that no view of the evidence that is favorable to the opposing party that the jury could legally take could be upheld under the law. In the subject case, the appellate court found that the state presented adequate evidence to allow the matter to survive the defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal and submit the case to the jury.

First, the court noted that the defendant argued that the state did not offer sufficient evidence to show that he intentionally impeded the normal circulation of blood or breathing of the victim but explained that this is typically a question for the jury. In other words, direct evidence of intent is uncommon, as intent is often established via inference. Thus, a trial court should rarely, if ever, grant a motion for judgment of acquittal on the issue of intent.

Moreover, the applicable statute merely required proof that a defendant impeded his victim’s breath in order to obtain a conviction for battery by strangulation; it did not require proof that the victim’s breathing was cut off entirely. In the subject case, the evidence offered by the state met this burden of proof. Based on the foregoing, the appellate court found that the trial court rightfully denied the defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal.

Confer with an Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

Convictions for battery and other violent crimes can cause lifelong harm to people’s rights and reputations. If you are charged with a violent crime, it is smart to meet with an attorney to evaluate your options for seeking a favorable outcome. The experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys of Hanlon Law can assess the evidence against you and formulate compelling arguments on your behalf to provide you with a good chance of achieving successful results. You can reach us at 727-897-5413 or via the form online to set up a meeting.

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