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Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer

Battery on a law enforcement officer (also known as BAT LEO) is an extremely common felony charge that police officers often use to demonstrate their authority and/or gain control over a situation.  Florida vigorously prosecutes people alleged to have acted violently towards law enforcement officers.  Many people arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer feel that they have done nothing wrong and have difficulty understanding why they were arrested, let alone charged with a criminal offense.  In fact, the person arrested is usually the one who suffers physical injury at the hands of the officers.

Elements

To prove the crime of Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer, the State must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused intentionally touched or struck the alleged victim against his or her will or caused bodily harm to the alleged victim.
  2. The alleged victim was a law enforcement officer.
  3. The accused knew the alleged victim was a law enforcement officer.
  4. The alleged victim was engaged in the lawful performance of his or her duties when the battery was committed.

Law Enforcement Officers include not only police officers but also correctional officers, probation officers, employees or agents of the Department of Corrections, federal law enforcement officers, officers with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, law enforcement staff of the Department of Law Enforcement, or law enforcement staff of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Defenses

There are many ways to defend a charge of battery on law enforcement.  These include showing that there was no knowledge that the alleged victim was law enforcement (undercover detectives), or that the contact was simply the result of a struggle and was accidental.  Additionally, a conviction for Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer requires proof that the officer was “engaged in the performance of a lawful duty when the battery occurred,” not just “on the job.”

This requirement means that even if a uniformed law enforcement officer is working off duty for a bar, convenience store, as mall security, or for any private employer, they are merely “on the job” for the private employer and are not afforded enhanced protection under the statute if they should be struck while working for the private employer.

However, if while working for a private employer, they become engaged in “activities of an official police nature,” such as breaking up a fight, escorting a trespasser of the premises, or arresting someone, a person who then batters the officer is subject to being convicted of Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer.

Penalties

Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer is a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in Florida State Prison.

Florida has several types of battery crimes:

  1. Misdemeanor Battery,
  2. Domestic Battery by Strangulation,
  3. Domestic Violence Battery,
  4. Aggravated battery,
  5. Felony Battery

If you are charged with Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer in Broward County, an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney is essential.  For a free consultation to see how Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney David J. Sobel can defend you, contact David Sobel at 954-383-3000. You will be able to speak directly with David Sobel 24/7.

David Sobel is a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorney representing clients throughout Broward County, Miami-Dade County, and Palm Beach County and all other counties in the State of Florida.