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Aggravated Battery | Felony Battery

Aggravated Battery v. Felony Battery

Aggravated Battery vs Felony Battery

Aggravated Battery vs Felony Battery

Aggravated battery is always a felony, but felony battery is not always an aggravated battery.  Simple battery can be charged as felony battery under certain circumstances.

Battery Basics

According to Baizer Kolar P.C., criminal battery can be either a misdemeanor or a felony.  So why would somebody get charged with misdemeanor battery as opposed to felony battery and vice versa?  You will need to know some definitions and some statutes in order to make the determination.  Those are all provided blow. However, this is how you will conduct the analysis: 1) is the battery simple or aggravated; 2) aggravated battery is always a felony; 3) if it is a simple battery, does the individual qualify for the felony enhancement due to his/her prior criminal record?; 4) if it is a simple battery, is the victim entitled to special protection by statute?

Battery Definition

Florida law separates the crime of battery into two categories.  Simple battery is typically charged as a misdemeanor, but can be charged as a felony under certain circumstances.  Aggravated battery is always charged as a felony.

Simple Battery Definition

Florida Statute 784.03 defines simple battery.  The offense of battery occurs when a person:

1. Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or
2. Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.

Aggravated Battery Definition

Florida Statute 784.045 defines aggravated battery.  A person commits aggravated battery who, in committing battery:

1. Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or
2. Uses a deadly weapon.
Florida has also added a third way to commit an aggravated battery.
3. A person commits aggravated battery if the person who was the victim of the battery was pregnant at the time of the offense and the offender knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant.

Felony Battery

Aggravated battery is always a felony.  Aggravated battery is sometimes called “aggravated bat” or “agg bat” for short.  Simple battery, as defined in Florida Statute 784.03, is typically charged as a misdemeanor, but can be charged as a felony.  Simple battery can be charged as a felony if the defendant has a prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery or felony battery.

Simple battery can also be charged as a felony if the victim is in a certain class of individuals or the battery is particularly reprehensible.  An example of a classification enhancement would be battery on a law enforcement officer a/k/a battery leo.  An example of particularly reprehensible behavior would be throwing bodily fluids at a jail employee.  Please note that enhancement, covered in Florida Statute 784.078, covers all employees and not just the guards.

Domestic Battery | Domestic Violence Cases

Domestic battery does not qualify for an automatic felony enhancement.  Domestic battery is treated the same as any other battery although domestic cases are typically segregated into designated domestic violence courts for prosecution.  All this means is that the potential consequences for a domestic battery are the same as if it were any other person.  In reality, domestic battery, as well as all other domestic violence cases, are prosecuted much more harshly than other battery cases.

Felony Battery | Classifications

Simple battery can be charged as felony battery under certain circumstances.  All of the circumstances are set forth in Florida Statutes Chapter 784 so I will not include a direct link to each statute, but rather the entire chapter.

Florida Statute 784.03 – a prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery or felony battery enhances a simple battery charge from a misdemeanor to a felony.  It is important to note that a withheld adjudication counts as a prior conviction under this statute;

Florida Statute 784.07 – battery of law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical care providers, public transit employees or agents, or other specified officers;

Florida Statute 784.074 – battery on sexually violent predators detention or commitment facility staff;

Florida Statute 784.075 – battery on detention or commitment facility staff or a juvenile probation officer;

Florida Statute 784.076 – battery on health services personnel;

Florida Statute 784.078 – battery of facility employee by throwing, tossing, or expelling certain fluids or materials;

Florida Statute 784.08 – battery on persons 65 years of age or older;

Florida Statute 784.081 – battery on specified officials or employees(sports officials and education officials);

Florida Statute 784.082 – battery by a person who is being detained in a prison, jail, or other detention facility upon visitor or other detainee;

Florida Statute 784.083 – battery on code inspectors;

Florida Statute 784.084 – battery of child by throwing, tossing, projecting, or expelling certain fluids or materials.

Ft. Lauderdale criminal attorney, Michael Dye, has extensive experience handling aggravated battery, felony battery and domestic battery cases through trial. For more information concerning aggravated battery and other battery charges, please contact us at:

The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 1 East Broward Boulevard #700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954)990-0525

Drug Court | Broward County Drug Court Treatment Program

Broward County Drug Court

Drug Court Works

The Broward County Drug Court Treatment Program is a pretrial intervention program designed to break the cycle of drug addiction which is crippling the criminal justice system.  Broward County’s Drug Court program is the second oldest in the State of Florida and the third oldest in the nation.  Broward County’s drug court diversion program is divided into felony drug court and misdemeanor drug court.  The Broward County Circuit Court handles felony drug court while the County Court handles misdemeanor drug court.

Drug Court is an Alternative to Punishment

Florida Statute 921.002(1)(b) states that the primary purpose of criminal sentencing is to punish the offender and that rehabilitation is secondary to the goal of punishment.   While completing drug court is not easy, a defendant who completes either felony or misdemeanor drug court will typically be eligible to have his or her criminal record expunged.  Drug court puts rehabilitation first.  Accordingly, the concept of drug court appears to be at odds with Florida Statute 921.002(1)(b).  Nevertheless,  Broward County Drug Court has been in existence for 25 years.   There is no current legislative effort to put an end to drug court and, to the best of my knowledge, there never has been any effort to put an end to drug court.  The reason why there is no legislative push to end drug court is because it works.  Broward County’s Drug Court Treatment Program would have been eliminated long ago if had a high recidivism rate or allowed criminal behavior to continue unchecked.  As such, the legislature appears to have turned a blind eye to drug courts across the State of Florida.

Am I Eligible for Drug Court

Different Circuits have different rules.  In order to be eligible for Broward County’s Drug Court Treatment Program, you must be over 18, have no prior felony convictions and be charged with a second or third degree felony related to a purchase, attempted purchase or possession of a personal quantity of a scheduled controlled substance listed in Florida Statute 893.033.  Drug court is designed to assist individuals with drug problems not drug dealers.  Accordingly, any allegation of an intent to sell or deliver to another individual is typically disqualifying.

How do I get Drug Court

Individuals are screened for the drug court program beginning at the time of arrest.  A case is typically assigned to drug court by the intake attorney at the Office of the State Attorney.  If, for some reason, you qualify, but are not placed in drug court, your attorney can file a motion to transfer your case to drug court

Advantages of Drug Court

A conviction for possession of any type of illegal drug can have devastating consequences on an individuals future.  In the Broward County Drug Court Treatment Program, a defendant only waives his or her right to a speedy trial.  A defendant may be eligible to seal or expunge his or her criminal record upon successful completion of drug court.

DUI Manslaughter Defense

DUI Manslaughter Defense

Analysis of Postmortem Specimens

Strict Liability vs Causation

Florida had a strict liability DUI manslaughter statute until 1986.  All the state needed to prove was that the defendant was driving while impaired, was involved in a car accident and somebody died as a result of the car accident. It did not matter if the defendant was at fault for the accident. The legislature amended the DUI manslaughter statute in 1986 to include the element of causation.

Constitutional Issue with Strict Liability

The problem with the strict liability DUI manslaughter statute, in my opinion, was that the criminal culpability for a misdemeanor DUI and the criminal culpability for a DUI manslaughter was equal. A good argument could be made that the strictly at liability DUI manslaughter statute violated the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution as a cruel and unusual punishment. The current DUI manslaughter statute requires the state to prove the following: 1) driving under the influence; 2) an accident resulting in death and 3) and that the defendant was somehow at fault for the accident. The causation element must be proved independent of impairment.

Not My Fault Defense

Defending DUI manslaughter cases is difficult under any circumstances. It is human nature to look for somebody to blame when somebody dies before their time.  It is also human nature to not speak ill of the dead.  However, a legally viable defense to DUI manslaughter is that the decedent was at fault for the accident even though the defendant was driving drunk. The defendant would be guilty of DUI, but not DUI manslaughter in that scenario. The “not my fault defense” is a particularly difficult proposition to sell to a jury. In essence, you are saying to the jury “Yes, my client was driving drunk. Yes, my client was involved in a fatal car accident. However, the car accident was the dead guy’s fault.”

Theory vs. Reality

Nobody ever gets screwed by the law in a bar exam essay question.  However, this is not a law school exam question. Defense attorneys need to stop thinking about legal theory and focus on where the rubber meets the road.  Technically, the defense bears no burden of proof, but if this is your defense, you are going to need to show some solid evidence.  The jury is looking to blame somebody and there is a good chance that it is going to be the defendant.  Personally, I wouldn’t want to use this defense if it did not have a strong factual basis.  The risk of alienating the judge and jury by blaming the victim without any serious basis is too great.

Where to Find the Evidence

The autopsy report from the County Medical Examiner’s Office is a valuable source of information for the defense. Please note that the Medical Examiner’s Office may be called something different in another state.  Biological specimens, such as blood and urine, are preserved during the course of an autopsy. Toxicology testing is performed on the specimens. The results of the toxicology tests may show that the was under the influence of some sort of drug or alcohol at the time of the accident without tricks like their homemade Whizzinator.

It should be relatively easy to establish whether the decedent was under the influence of a drug at the time of the accident. The postmortem blood sample will identify the drugs in his or her system at the time of death. Postmortem quantitative analysis of controlled substances in a decedent’s blood is another topic for another time. The biggest problem that defense attorneys run into when trying to evaluate the culpability of the decedent is the quantitative analysis of ethyl alcohol in the decedent’s blood.

No matter what methods are used, using the BAC at the time of autopsy in order to determine the decedent’s impairment at the time of the accident is an educated guess at best and gross speculation at worst.  The reason for the uncertainty is because alcohol can be produced or destroyed in between the time of death in the time of the autopsy. Autolysis is defined as the self digestion or destruction of an organism’s own cells through the action of its own enzymes. This begins to occur within hours of an individual’s death and his present throughout the vast majority of the vascular system within hours. The result is an environment which supports the endogenous production of alcohol. Multiple environmental factors contribute in determining if endogenous alcohol is produced or the extent of the endogenous production. The two most significant are typically time and temperature.

Postmortem BAC Testing is Never Ideal

We obviously want the BAC to be as accurate as possible. In an ideal world we would like to have a blood sample taken from the decedent as soon as possible after the accident and a second blood sample taken 45 minutes to an hour after the first blood sample with both being prior to death. If that is the case, we would probably not need to use the postmortem sample.

If possible, the first thing that the defense attorney should do is check the decedents medical records in order to determine if a BAC screen was ordered by a doctor at the hospital. You may have to request a subpoena duces tecum if the medical evidence from the hospital is not provided in discovery.  Sometimes individuals die on the scene or on their way to the hospital so this is not always available. If there is no antemortem sample, the defense attorney has to be able to assess the reliability of the autopsy sample.

Additional Reading

Postmortem analysis of biological specimens for ethyl alcohol is very complicated.  Try as I might, I cannot say it any better than it is said on this website: BAC Analysis in Postmortem Specimens. Another good website for forensic science in general is The Truth About Forensic Science

Remember that it is the State’s burden to prove that the defendant was at fault for the accident. If you can put on strong evidence that the decedent was impaired it is up to the State to rebut that.  There are simply too many variables for the toxicologist to credibly testify as to a definitive state of impairment at the time of the accident. I always tell anyone involved in a car accident whether it involves a criminal charge or not,
first and by far the smartest move is to contact a few Car accident lawyers near you.

For more information, please contact us at:

The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 1 East Broward Boulevard #700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954)990-0525 or
The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 2 S Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33131 (305)459-3286

Broward DUI Conviction Rate 56%

 

Florida DUI Conviction Statistics

Data Shows that DUI Cases can be Beat

Can I Beat this DUI Charge?

That is a very typical question for dui defense attorneys. Most potential clients feel that it is impossible to win a DUI case. professionals from DUI attorney in denver and from https://tjryanlaw.com/ say otherwise. Your chances of winning your DUI case depend exclusively on the facts and circumstances surrounding your arrest. However, some counties seem to be a bit for defense friendly than others. The way I typically approach the situation is to tell the potential client my honest opinion based on the information that has been provided by the client. Keep in mind that sometimes the information provided by a client is not the most accurate. It is simply human nature to try to present your case in a fashion that makes you look the best. I’ve never cited to conviction statistics in a client meeting because I did not know the exact figures. I probably still won’t after today because it can set unrealistic expectations.

What do the statistics say?

The statistics actually paint a pretty rosey picture for a DUI defendant in Broward County, Florida. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles keeps records on how many DUI citations were issued in a county and keeps records on how those DUI citations were resolved in court. Much to my surprise, there were significant statistical differences in counties throughout the state. So while your odds might be pretty good in Fort Lauderdale, they might not be as good in Ocala. Visit the FLHSMV Uniform Traffic Citation Report to see the reports for the entire State of Florida.

Please keep the following in mind while reviewing the statistics:

  • There will be a certain number of DUI charges that are unresolved at the end of each year due to continuances and the date of the offense;
  • The data below is from year 2013 in order to allow additional time for cases to be resolved and reflected in the annual data;
  • The data is limited to three counties. Broward County, Miami-Dade County and Marion County;
  • The term “guilty” does not mean guilty of DUI;
  • “Guilty” as used below means a finding of guilt as to DUI, another traffic criminal matter charged with the DUI or a reduced charge from the DUI;
  • For example, if an individual is charged with DUI and he or she takes a plea to reckless driving, that still counts as a guilty.  This inflates the amount of individuals who are found “guilty” without disclosing how often the state reduces the charge.

Broward County DUI Arrest Data 2013
TOTAL ARRESTS:  3974
TOTAL PENDING DISPOSITION: 581
TOTAL DISPOSSED: 3393
TOTAL GUILTY: 1885 (56%)
TOTAL NOT GUILTY: 48 (1%)
ADJUDICATION WITHHELD BY JUDGE: 131 (4%)
TOTAL DISMISS OR NOLLE PROS: 1328 (39%)

Palm Beach County DUI Arrest Data 2013
TOTAL ARRESTS: 3034
TOTAL PENDING DISPOSITION: 969
TOTAL DISPOSSED: 2065
TOTAL GUILTY: 1343 (65%)
TOTAL NOT GUILTY: 31 (2)
ADJUDICATION WITHHELD BY JUDGE: 5 (<1%) TOTAL DISMISS OR NOLLE PROS: 684 (33%)

Marion County DUI Arrest Data 2013
TOTAL ARRESTS: 915
TOTAL PENDING DISPOSITION: 31
TOTAL DISPOSSED: 884
TOTAL GUILTY: 737 (83%)
TOTAL NOT GUILTY: 10 (1%)
ADJUDICATION WITHHELD BY JUDGE: 6 (1%)
TOTAL DISMISS OR NOLLE PROS: 131 (15%)

Statistical Interpretation

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has this information readily available for the years 2011 through 2014. Over the course of those four years, the annual arrest total by county varies, but not significantly. However, the percentages remain very close to the same in all categories.

Why?

Why does Marion County, Florida have an 83% conviction rate? Why does Broward County, Florida show a conviction rate of 56%? There are several plausible explanations for the variations between counties. Are conviction rates higher in smaller, more conservative, rural areas due to the composition of the jury pool? Are larger counties precluded from devoting substantial resources towards DUI enforcement due to other prosecutorial priorities? The statistics don’t tell us why.

All that we know, based on statistical data alone, is that Broward County has a 56% conviction rate and that includes all of the convictions for lesser offenses such as reckless driving.

The relationship you have with your lawyer is sacrosanct. When you retain a lawyer, whether for a divorce or another issue, Chicago divorce lawyer is ethically charged with holding what you say to him/her as confidential. That means your attorney cannot talk about your case in public or to third parties without your consent.

There are exceptions to this, but I’ll save that for another article.

Going through a divorce is a stressful time. It’s stressful for both you as the person getting divorced and for the attorney who is representing you. There’s a saying within legal circles that “criminal law deals with bad people at their best and family law deals with good people at their worst.” From my experience, I can’t argue with that.

Marion County has an 83% conviction rate. The statistics above clearly show that DUI’s can be beat and criminal defense attorneys are winning DUI cases on a regular basis. Hiring a criminal attorney with substantial DUI experience can have an enormous impact in the outcome of your case. Make no mistake about it, the odds are still stacked against you, but a good DUI attorney, you can level the playing field.

For more information, please contact us at:

The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 1 East Broward Boulevard #700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954)990-0525 or
The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 2 S Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33131 (305)459-3286

Florida Sentencing Guidelines

Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet

It’s like golf! Less Points = Better!

Am I Going to Prison?

Every criminal defense attorney gets asked this question. From DUI cases to murder cases, every defendant is concerned with their exposure to a prison sentence. In felony cases, if you are found guilty, the length of your prison sentence is typically determined by a simple mathematical calculation.  I will use algebra to explain thereby making this unnecessarily complicated and creating job security.  P = Total Sentence Points.  If P > or = 44 then your recommended prison sentence is calculated as follows, .75(P – 28) .

Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet

The form for the Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet is found in Florida Rule of Criminal  Procedure 3.992. The assistant state attorney handling the prosecution of a felony matter is required to complete a Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet. The Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet is also known as the sentencing scoresheet. The purpose of the criminal punishment code scoresheet is to provide the court with a “recommended” sentence.

How is it Scored?

Think of sentencing points like a golf score.  The less points you have, the better off you will be.  The sentencing scoresheet assigns a point value to all criminal offenses currently before the court. All felonies are divided into various “offense levels.” The various offense levels can be found in Florida Statute 921.0022. Section 1 is called the primary offense. The primary offense carries the most sentence points out of all charges on the scoresheet. I use a felony DUI in the example below. A fourth(4th) DUI conviction, and all subsequent DUI convictions, are 3rd degree felonies pursuant to Florida Law. Looking at section 1, you can see that a fifth(5th) DUI conviction is a third-degree felony, the statute is 316.193 and the offense level is six. A level VI primary offense earns 36 sentence points. However, a level VI additional offense is only 18 points.

Additional points are added for certain aggravating factors and prior convictions. The assistant state attorney will calculate the total amount of sentence points.  However, the defense attorney needs to check to make sure it is correct.  If the total amount of sentence points is less than 44, the lowest permissible sense is a non-state prison sanction. A non-state prison sanction can include some jail time, probation, community control or a combination of all of the above.

Calculating a Hypothetical Scoresheet

Primary and Additional Offenses: In the example that I use below, John Smith has been arrested for a fifth DUI and possession of cocaine. Both crimes are felonies. The fifth DUI is the primary offense because it is a level VI offense. The possession of cocaine is an additional offense because it is a level III offense. Accordingly, Mr. Smith is assessed 36 sentence points for the DUI and 2.4 sentence points for the possession of cocaine.

Victim Injury: Section 3 deals with victim injury. This area of the scoresheet is a bit more subjective and there is room for a criminal defense attorney to attempt to get less sentencing points, so you may end up looking for a personal injury attorney specialized in this cases. In this example, there was a victim injury and the injury was described as moderate. An additional 18 sentence points are added due to the degree of the injury of the victim.

Prior Criminal Record: Section 4 assigns points based on the defendant’s prior criminal record. In this section, you will find yourself going back to Florida statute 921.0022 in order to find the offense levels for any prior convictions. In the example below I simply put four prior DUIs for the sake of simplicity.

Legal Status: Section 5 assigns points for legal status violations. A legal status is when an individual can be classified as an escapee, and absconder or, amongst others, already incarcerated. Section 6 assigns points for violating terms of pretrial release or probation.

Community Sanction Violation: Section 6 is used quite often because of high recidivism levels. So if an individual is on probation when he or she gets convicted for a new charge,  it will enhance the length of the sentence for the new charge.

Sections 7, 8 and 9 are fairly self explanatory.  These sections are not used as often because they typically apply to much more serious criminal offenses.

If the total sentencing points is greater than 44, you subtract 44 from the total score and multiply times .75 which gives you the minimum amount of prison time. A judge is authorized to sentence a defendant to consecutive maximum terms of imprisonment.  The guidelines are merely suggestions. A Judge may be required to provide a written explanation concerning a deviation from the guidelines under certain circumstances In the example below, the maximum sentence would be 10 years. However, the recommended sentence would be 29.55 months.

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For more information, please contact us at:

The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 1 East Broward Boulevard #700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954)990-0525 or
The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 2 S Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33131 (305)459-3286

This is the full blog you need to know: http://bodifordlawgroupga.com/mcdonough-henry-county/