Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer

Tampa Lawyer for Charges of Violent Crimes

It is important to retain a criminal defense attorney if you are arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer. Heightened penalties are imposed on civilians who use force on police or other law enforcement officers who are carrying out their official duties. At Hanlon Law, Tampa battery defense lawyer Will Hanlon can identify the strongest defenses available and negotiate for a plea deal or take your case to trial as appropriate.

Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer

To establish that you perpetrated battery on a law enforcement officer under Florida Statute section 784.07, the prosecutor must establish beyond a reasonable doubt each of the following elements:

  • You intentionally struck or touched a law enforcement officer;
  • The action was taken against their will or caused bodily harm;
  • You knew that the victim was a law enforcement officer; and
  • The law enforcement officer was involved with lawfully performing their duties when you committed battery.

The statute defines "law enforcement officer" to include police officers, correctional officers, parking enforcement officers, traffic enforcement officers, law enforcement explorers, part-time police or correctional officers, auxiliary correctional officers, auxiliary law enforcement officers, probation officers, federal law enforcement officers, employees of the Department of Corrections who supervise or give services to inmates, and officers of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The protection provided by section 784.07 extends to other public servants as well, including firefighters and emergency medical care providers.

A charge of battery on a law enforcement officer is a felony in the third degree. It can be punished by a maximum sentence of five years in prison, five years on probation, and a $5,000 fine. However, when a defendant's actions constitute aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, the offense can be charged as a felony in the first degree, and the mandatory minimum prison sentence is five years. A mandatory minimum sentence is one in which a judge has no discretion to depart downward. The maximum sentence for aggravated battery is 30 years.

If you are convicted of battery on a police officer, and during the battery, you possessed a firearm or destructive device, the mandatory minimum imprisonment term is three years. If you possessed a machine gun or semiautomatic firearm and its high capacity detachable box magazine, you will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of eight years.

Although it is concerning if you have been charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, there are possible defenses available. Common defenses to the charge include insufficient evidence, self-defense, incidental touching, and excessive force. For example, the prosecution is supposed to show that the officer was performing a legal duty as part of proving battery on a law enforcement officer. If the officer is conducting an unlawful detention and not arresting you, you may be able to defeat a charge of battery. However, under section 776.051(1), you cannot use force to resist an arrest by someone whom you know is or who reasonably looks like a law enforcement officer.

On the other hand, there are situations in which a police officer may use excessive force in violation of your constitutional rights. In those cases, you may have a defense that the officer was using excessive force and that you had to put up your hands or otherwise touch the officer to avoid injuries. Accidental actions that are not calculated to make contact with a law enforcement officer are considered incidental and will not count as battery. For example, if you make a movement to prevent being seriously injured when an officer slams you to the ground, this would be incidental. Additionally, since section 784.07 requires the prosecutor to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew that the victim was a law enforcement officer, it may be possible to raise doubt about whether you knew that the person was a law enforcement officer in situations in which the person was out of uniform.

Consult a Battery Defense Lawyer in the Tampa Area

Charges of battery on a law enforcement officer often are vigorously prosecuted. It is important to realize that a criminal record makes it more challenging to get a job, find housing, or obtain a professional license. The earlier that a knowledgeable battery or aggravated assault attorney becomes involved, the more likely it is that we will be successful in defending you. Our founder, Will Hanlon, is committed to protecting the rights of the accused in Tampa and the surrounding cities, and he has represented criminal defendants since 1994. Call Hanlon Law at 813-228-7095 or use our online form to discuss your situation with an attorney.