By: Larry Kohn, Award-Winning Georgia Criminal Lawyer and Legal Book Author
When a person is arrested for a battery charge in GA, police usually don’t inform the arrestee by a police officer whether he or she is facing felony vs misdemeanor charges. Once bond is posted, and the person is released from jail, he or she often searches the Internet for criminal defense lawyers near me and calls to ask: “Is simple battery a felony or misdemeanor in Georgia?”
Their second question is “What does simple battery mean?” There is no single simple battery definition Each state outlines its criminal law legal provisions for making all criminal offenses either felony or misdemeanor crimes. Some states have infractions for traffic offenses and minor transgressions like littering, but the State of Georgia only has felonies and misdemeanors in its criminal code.
Is Simple Battery a Misdemeanor in Georgia?
But, (in all states) misdemeanor battery entails uninvited and unauthorized CONTACT by actions of the perpetrator that include:
- The unjustified or unlawful touching or striking a victim, which was started or initiated by perpetrator; plus
- The actor must be aware that his or her actions will cause the offensive touching. This second component of the misdemeanor crime of battery (the “intent” aspect) is part of our laws so that contact with the body of another that was unforeseen or merely incidental does not constitute a crime. This is consistent with the Model Penal Code utilized across the United States for enacting criminal codes.
OGCA Simple Battery Statute [O.C.G.A. 16-5-23]
Now our criminal attorneys near me address the question, “What is a simple battery charge?” The wording of the law on simple battery GA statute starts with this broad, comprehensive list of ways the crime of simple battery Georgia occurs. Other subsections of the Georgia battery law call for more serious punishment (high and aggravated misdemeanor), for certain victims and circumstances. That aspect is covered after this discussion of the basic simple battery OCGA law:
(a) A person commits the offense of simple battery when he or she either:
(1) Intentionally makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with the person of another; or
(2) Intentionally causes physical harm to another.
Does Simple Battery GA Require a Fight or Altercation?
No, it does not. While simple battery charges generally conjure up thoughts of a scuffle, confrontation or altercation, simple battery Georgia laws also cover situations where a medical practitioner (or other healing arts professional) goes beyond the scope of performing a surgical or therapeutic procedure and unilaterally performs another non-consensual surgery or corrective measure.
By way of example, if a plastic surgery doctor agreed to perform a face lift for a female patient, and during that surgery went further and performed rhinoplasty (a nose job), the patient could take out a criminal arrest warrant for battery.
Even if the reduction of her nose size was done for free, and may be pleasing or desirable to some people, the patient may have liked her nose as it was. Another possible reason for not authorizing the rhinoplasty might be that she did not want her friends to see the dramatic change in her facial appearance and then know for certain that she has undergone facial surgery. The nose surgery was not authorized.
How Many Georgia Battery Crimes Does Our State Have?
Many clients ask, “When is simple battery a misdemeanor?” Unlike most states, three different statutes cover Georgia battery crimes. Most other states have just two classifications of battery crimes: aggravated (felony) and battery (misdemeanor). In Georgia, we have added simple battery, which is always a misdemeanor, but can be “high and aggravated.” Battery in Georgia can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances and who the victim may be.
So, in Georgia though, the Peach State has created three different crimes involving battery in the Official Code of Georgia (OCGA battery):
Simple battery (OCGA Simple battery, Section 16-5-23)
Battery (O.C.G.A. battery, Section 16-5-23.1)
Aggravated battery (OCGA aggravated battery, Section 16-5-24)
The crime of battery under OCGA battery statute 16-5-23.1 added this language, to help police officers distinguish the more serious offense of battery:
“causes substantial physical harm or visible bodily harm to another.”
So, the way battery occurs is like a simple battery charge in Georgia, except that the contact has been more violent and leaves visible wounds. when an individual engages in a reckless or intentional act that a reasonable person would know was unwanted contact. So long as the conduct was volitional by the perpetrator, battery can occur regardless of whether he or she had a specific intent to cause offensive contact.
Aggravated battery also happens similarly to the others but looks at the IMPACT to the victim to make these offenses a felony.
public school employee
Difference Between Assault and Battery
The main difference between a battery charge and an assault charge is the actual presence of contact being intentionally made with another person that was meant to harm, and the threat of harm that is usually made in an aggressive manner by words or conduct (e.g., swinging a clenched fist close to a person’s face, but not striking the other person).
Assault laws in Georgia apply to the criminal offenses of “assault” and “battery.” These two distinct criminal offenses (assault and battery) can be either misdemeanor or felony, depending on the degree (level) of violence and the harm (or the fear generated by the threat of harm or apprehension that harm is about to occur (e.g., pointing a loaded pistol at someone) from a victim’s perspective, not the perspective of the perpetrator.
In general terms, a battery is a criminal offense involving the unlawful or nonconsensual touching of another, usually preceded by physical acting upon a threat by touching or striking another. The crime of assault is the act of creating apprehension of such impending contact, but not actually making contact.
Defense of Property
What Does Simple Battery Mean?
While most simple battery offenses are misdemeanor offenses, that is not to say that they cannot have serious repercussions. Even misdemeanor offenses remain on a person’s record.
Several circumstances exist under Georgia laws under which Simple Battery may be treated as High and Aggravated Misdemeanor. This means that the potential penalties are higher than they would be for a regular misdemeanor.
Unlike the related charges of Battery and Aggravated Battery, typically simple battery does not result in a visible or actual physical injury. It may include behavior like grabbing an arm, using an open palm and slapping, or possibly pushing another. Such acts need not result in visible bodily injury but need to have been made by the perpetrator intentionally.
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