In Florida, the crime of battery is very broad and can include a lot of different actions. Basically, a battery is defined as any unauthorized touching. So, a slight push or any marginal contact can be considered a battery if the victim did not authorize the contact. A battery charge, in and of itself, may not be terribly serious if the contact is minimal, but it can become much more serious, even with minimal contact, if other factors are present. For instance, if the victim is a relative, the mother of one’s child or living in the same residence, it can be a domestic battery. Domestic battery charges usually come with greater penalties, and they remain on a person’s criminal record forever if the defendant enters a guilty or no contest plea. If the victim is pregnant, that slight contact becomes a felony charge. In that circumstance, even if the victim is only a few weeks pregnant and even though the defendant barely touched the victim who was uninjured, the defendant could be facing a serious felony charge of aggravated battery on a pregnant woman.
In Florida, a defendant can get convicted of two battery charges for the same incident. In a recent case near Jacksonville, Florida, the defendant was charged with beating the victim with a pole. The victim suffered a variety of injuries including broken bones. She was also pregnant at the time of the incident. At the trial, the defendant was convicted of aggravated battery and aggravated battery of a pregnant woman. Each of those charges comes with a potential 15 year maximum prison sentence.
The criminal defense lawyer argued that it violated double jeopardy for the defendant to be sentenced for two aggravated battery charges when he committed a single act of battery. The key questions was whether the injuries resulted from a single act or a series of acts. Because the victim had injuries all over her body, there was evidence to suggest that the defendant committed separate and distinct acts of violence against her which would allow separate aggravated battery charges.
Beyond that, in Florida, a defendant can be convicted of two separate but similar charges if the crimes have different elements. Aggravated battery and aggravated battery on a pregnant woman obviously have different elements as the latter charge has the added element that the victim is pregnant. Additionally, an aggravated battery charge requires that the victim suffered a serious injury. Aggravated battery on a pregnant woman can be any simple battery where the defendant knew the victim was pregnant. Therefore, any time a person commits an aggravated battery on a woman he/she knows is pregnant, that person can be charged with two separate aggravated battery charges.