ASSAULT OR BATTERY OF A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, FIREFIGHTER, EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE PROVIDER, PUBLIC TRANSIT EMPLOYEE OR AGENT, OR OTHER SPECIFIED OFFICER IN FLORIDA
Certain classes of people get extra protection under the law by virtue of their status. This includes people over 65, law enforcement officers, firefighters, pregnant women, etc. As a result, the law provides enhanced penalties if a qualified crime is committed against these folk. Collectively, I refer to these offenses as “status crimes.” This would include crimes like Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer (Firefighter, Paramedic, etc.). In general, any of these will reclassify the crime as a higher level offense. For example, a first degree misdemeanor becomes a third degree felony.
Assault or Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer, etc. is charged whenever the alleged victim of the crime of Assault, Aggravated Assault, Battery or Aggravated Battery is a law enforcement officer, or other listed person, who is engaged in the lawful performance of their duties. Being charged with Assault or Battery where the alleged victim is a Law Enforcement Officer or one of the other listed people is a very serious charge. Whether facing charges in Broward, Miami-Dade, or West Palm Beach County, one should take the charges of Assault or Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer very seriously. Our Criminal Defense Attorneys have experience dealing with these charges and are ready to assist you or a love one. Call us to discuss your case.
DEFINITION OF ASSAULT OR BATTERY OF A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER IN FLORIDA
Assault or Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer, as defined by Florida Statute § 784.07, involves the criminal act defined as Assault or Battery with the additional condition that the victim is a law enforcement or other official public officer engaged in the lawful performance of their duties.
The State’s attorney first must prove beyond a reasonable doubt all elements of the relevant crime:
In addition to proving the elements of the relevant crime, the State’s attorney also must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following three (3) of elements:
(1) The victim was a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical care provider, public transit employee or agent, or other official public officer of the State of Florida.
(2) The defendant knew the victim was a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical care provider, public transit employee or agent, or other official public officer of the State of Florida.
(3) The victim was engaged in the lawful performance of their official duties at the time the crime occurred.
PENALTIES FOR ASSAULT OR BATTERY OF A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER IN FLORIDA
Whenever a person is charged with knowingly committing an Assault or Battery, or Aggravated Assault or Aggravated Battery, upon an officer of the state engaged in the lawful performance of their duties, the offense is reclassified to the next higher degree:
Assault of a Law Enforcement Officer is a misdemeanor of the first degree punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer is a felony of the third degree punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Conviction for a Battery while possessing, not using, but possessing a “firearm” or “destructive device” is punishable by no less than a minimum term of imprisonment of 3 years. If they possess a semiautomatic firearm or a machine gun, then it is punishable by no less than a minimum term of imprisonment of eight (8) years according to statute. However, I would note that an eight (8) year sentence would seemingly exceed the maximum sentence.
Aggravated Assault of a Law Enforcement Officer is a felony of the second degree punishable by a minimum of three (3) years and up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Aggravated Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer is a felony of the first degree punishable by a minimum of five (5) years in prison and up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Note: Any defendant previously convicted of any combination of two or more felonies in Florida who is subsequently convicted of another felony is subject to enhanced penalties or a mandatory minimum prison term as provided in § 775.084.
DEFENSES TO ASSAULT OR BATTERY OF A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER IN FLORIDA
The same defenses which are available when defending an Assault, Battery, Aggravated Assault, or Aggravated Battery remain available to one accused of attacking a law enforcement officer. For example:
In addition, one can defend against the elements added under Florida Statute § 784.07. The status of an individual as a law enforcement officer or firefighter may seem like a no-brainer. However, there have been cases where the status of the alleged was in question due to failure of the victim to maintain licensure requirements. It may well turn out they are no longer legally a law enforcement officer or status individual.
Knowledge of the individual’s status is also a potential inroad to a defense. In one case, I argued that a client who awoke after a DUI accident was unaware it was paramedics holding him down. Other cases may involve plain clothes officers who did not adequately identify themselves.
Another common angle of attack is whether they were engaged in a lawful duty. Referring back to that case wherein a client woke up in the care of paramedics. When paramedics tried to restrain him, though he showed no injuries, I argued he had a right to refuse care and they had no right to restrain him. They were not engaged in a legal duty, I would argue. Other cases result from the police investigating one crime for which they never arrest or charge, but a conflict arises in the course of their investigation. Depending on timing, it could be argued that the investigation has ended and they have no continuing lawful right to detain the accused. Of course, these are just limited examples. Engaging the help of an experienced attorney can help to find the holes in the State’s case.
If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime of Assault or Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer, we can help. We will gladly meet with you in our office in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, or West Palm Beach. We serve clients all over Florida, with a focus in South Florida, including Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County. Call us now for your free consultation.