The Georgia Code defines battery as an offense a person commits when they make physical contact with another to provoke or harm them. In Georgia, the crime of battery is a misdemeanor, but it can become a felony under certain circumstances. The penalties of battery will depend on who the victim was, the level of their injuries, and where the crime took place.
Battery as a misdemeanor
The court can convict a person of battery if they cause visible physical harm to another. The victim’s injuries don’t have to be serious for the court to convict someone of this crime. Even black eyes or bruises could set the grounds for a battery conviction. As battery is a misdemeanor in Georgia, anyone accused of battery could be punished with a sentence of 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, the misdemeanor can become a misdemeanor of high and aggravated nature if:
- The victim is over 65 years old or pregnant
- The victim is a police officer
- The victim is a family member or someone from the accused’s household
- The victim is a sports official
- The victim is an employee of a public school system
- The accused commits the offense in a public transit vehicle or station
- The accused works in a care facility and commits the offense against someone under their care
These circumstances can turn a misdemeanor into a misdemeanor of high and aggravated nature, which has more serious consequences and fines up to $5,000.
A person is guilty of aggravated battery when they inflict a serious injury to another person. The law considers an injury to be serious if it leaves the victim disfigured or without a body member. Aggravated battery is a felony, and the court punishes it with imprisonment from one to 20 years, plus fines. The number of years a person would have to spend in prison will depend against whom and where they committed the offense:
- Against an officer: 10-20 years in prison and a $2,000 fine
- Against someone over 65 years old or a school employee: 5-10 years in prison
- In a public transit vehicle or within a school safety zone: 5-10 years in prison
- Against a family member or someone from the same household: 3-20 years in prison
A person can also be convicted of a felony if they harm the same person for the third time.
Sometimes, simple battery results from a provocation of the victim, in which case the accused can use this as a defense in court. The court could consider the act as self-defense if the accused made physical contact with the victim because they had insulted them. Defense of property or defense of others could also justify the need for physical contact with another. If this is your case, you have the right to explain the situation to the court and avoid the harsh penalties that come with a battery conviction.