What is aggravated battery?

Aggravated battery is a serious criminal offense of felony grade. A person may be charged with aggravated battery if he/she intentionally or knowingly caused serious bodily injury, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement while using a dangerous weapon. In some states, the aggravated battery sentence can reach up to 25 years, with a few states providing maximum punishments of 30 years.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jun 29, 2022

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Aggravated battery is a more serious form of battery, and is usually a felony, depending on the facts and circumstances in each particular case.

Keep reading to find out what is the difference between criminal battery and aggravated battery. If you need help from a criminal defense attorney, just enter your ZIP code below.

What is the definition of aggravated battery?

The aggravated battery meaning and definition vary by state, but the acts most often include the use of a deadly weapon, battery in which serious bodily injury occurs or where there is an intent by the perpetrator to cause serious bodily harm, battery involving a hate crime, or battery against a police officer or a vulnerable individual such as a child or an elderly person.

To be convicted of an aggravated battery charge, a judge or jury usually has to make a specific finding of one of the facts that would elevate a battery to an aggravated battery. Most states consider a firearm to be a per se deadly weapon. If you used something other than a gun, the prosecutor will have to show that the alleged weapon was at least capable of causing death or serious bodily injury because of the way that it was used. For example, most people have kitchen knives in their homes. A kitchen knife is not per se a deadly weapon because most people use it for a non-deadly purpose, like peeling potatoes. However, if you get mad at your roommate and lunge at him with a knife, your use of the knife may be considered a deadly weapon. Things that courts have considered to be deadly weapons include fists, cars, pool sticks, and BB guns. The laws of each state determine what is considered an aggravating situation.

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What are the intent requirements for aggravated battery?

The intent requirements for the aggravated battery will also vary by state. Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly are the most common intent requirements for aggravated battery. Intentional and knowing are fairly straightforward. Essentially, you knew you wanted to hurt someone and you did. Reckless is a bit trickier. It involves the disregard of a known risk. Because of frustrations with DWI laws, some prosecutors have been using the aggravated battery charge instead.

For example, you have had a few beers, but you are not legally intoxicated, or at least the state cannot prove that you are legally intoxicated because you refused the breath test. While driving, you hit another car with your vehicle when you swerved into oncoming traffic. The prosecutor may allege that you recklessly caused pain or injury to another individual with a deadly weapon, namely your car. Your reckless conduct is not that you were drunk, but rather that while under the influence of alcohol, you swerved and consciously disregarded the risks associated with your impaired driving ability. Reckless intent does not require you to actually intend to hurt the individual, only that you disregard the risks associated with your actions.

What are possible penalties and sentences for aggravated battery?

What is the bond for an aggravated battery?

Because it is typically a felony, or a second-degree felony, aggravated battery penalties can be severe. In some states, the sentence ranges reach up to 25 years, with a few states providing maximum punishments of 30 years. Other states provide penalties that start low, depending on the circumstances of the case, and can increase to many years. The circumstances that can affect the aggravated battery sentence imposed by the judge include whether a deadly weapon was used, on the severity of the injuries, and on how reprehensible the defendant’s behavior was. For example, a battery on a child or pregnant woman would be more likely to result in a long prison sentence, although a battery caused with clear intent to commit great bodily injury which resulted in a permanent disability might be enough to put a defendant in prison for many years.

What are possible defenses for aggravated battery?

A common defense to battery and aggravated battery is self-defense. To use this type of defense successfully, you will usually need to show that you did not use force that was disproportional to the threat. In other words, if you used a deadly weapon to defend yourself during unarmed mutual combat, your defense will be much less likely to result in an acquittal. Mutual combat is another defense which, although it is not usually formally recognized as a defense, may be used to show some level of responsibility on the part of the victim and may, at least, give the prosecutor and judge cause to impose a lower sentence. The penal codes vary by state. There are other defenses such as lack of intent. Again, if you are charged with aggravated battery, you should immediately contact a criminal defense lawyer in your state.

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What are examples of aggravated battery?

Check out the following examples of aggravated battery:

  • striking an individual with a weapon or dangerous object
  • shooting an individual with a gun
  • battery resulting in temporary disfigurement
  • battery resulting in permanent disfigurement or other serious physical injuries
  • battery against a protected class member, such as a police officer, healthcare provider, social services worker, or developmentally disabled or elderly person.

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