Battling Battery: A Legal Defense

What Constitutes Battery?

The most important part of defending yourself against any charge is knowing exactly what you’re defending yourself against. Battery is defined as “a physical act that results in harmful or offensive contact with another’s person without that person’s consent.“ This means you don’t have to actually hit the person to be charged with battery, the contact simply has to be determined to be offensive and unwanted.

How to Fight Battery Charges

The most important part of defending against a battery charge is knowing the type of battery you are being charged with. For legal purposes, the two type of battery include:

The difference is whether there was criminal intent when the battery occurred. If no criminal intent can be proven, it often becomes a question of civil damages versus criminal penalties.

Defending Against Battery Charges

The intent of the contact in question is the primary basis for a defense against battery charges. It’s not enough to proceed with battery charges if unwanted contact merely occurred on an innocent or accidental basis. There has to be clear intent that the defendant meant for contact to incur in order for battery to have taken place. If the contact was accidental or incidental in nature, then battery did not take place, as there was no intent to cause distress or injury.

Consent to the contact is another defense against allegations of battery. Consent requires meeting three criteria:

  • Serious bodily injury could not have been a possibility.
  • The risk of injury must have been easily foreseeable and accepted.
  • The individual must receive some benefit that would justify the conduct.

This allows the defendant to establish a consent defense on the basis that contact was reasonably expected and serious injury was not likely to occur, such as in sports or other contact-based activities.

Self-defense is another argument against battery. Every person has a legal right to defend themselves against unwanted physical contact, and as long as the force used to defend themselves was proportionate, they cannot be found liable for battery.

“Sudden passion” is the final defense against battery, though some states do not recognize this as a defense. Here, the goal is not to prove that the battery did not occur, but that circumstances caused the defendant emotional distress to the degree they were unable to make a sound decision. This may include catching a significant other in an affair, or other circumstances likely to cause significant mental and emotional distress.

What Can I Do If I Am Charged With Battery?

Battery can have serious legal ramifications and shouldn’t be faced alone. It can lead to fines, imprisonment, and restitution that can have a long-lasting impact on your future. Contact us at (610) 436-1410 if you are facing battery charges and need legal advice.

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