Assaulting an Emergency Care Provider
Many people are familiar with the fact that a battery on a law enforcement officer is a serious crime separate from a simple misdemeanor battery. However, less known is the law that increases punishments for battery on certain people who are not law enforcement officers. The justification for statutes like these are often unclear. Legislators obviously want to ensure extra protections for law enforcement officers and firefighters; along with increasing penalties against violators of the laws. However, emergency personnel are often the ones who naturally find themselves in the most conflict. And instead of deterring crime, the enhanced penalties simply serve to further clog an already bogged down legal system.
Apart from battery on a law enforcement officer, our lawmakers have increased the penalties for battery on certain other classes of people. Battery, the unlawful touching or striking of another, is a simple misdemeanor offense. An enhanced battery is a third-degree felony that carries much more serious potential penalties for those convicted of the offense. If you have found yourself charged with an enhanced battery offense, you should not hesitate to contact an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer.Elements of Enhanced Battery
You may be surprised to hear the many classes of victims that are involved in this enhanced battery offense. Under Florida Statute 784.07, aside from police, there are five separate categories of potential victims. Each of those categories is further broken down into subcategories of victims that will enhance a simple battery into a felony offense.
First, it is a felony offense to commit a battery against an emergency medical care provider. This class of victims includes ambulance drivers, technicians, nurses, paramedics, doctors, and essentially any person involved in the medical care field while they are in the operation of their duties. This even applies to people who are simply volunteering at the hospital or other medical care provider. This portion of the statute also makes it an enhanced offense to commit a battery against anyone who works for the hospital’s security department.
The statute also enhances a misdemeanor battery to a felony if a battery is committed against a firefighter, a law enforcement explorer or a railroad special officer. A law enforcement explorer is typically a person under the supervision of a law enforcement officer who participates in police activities in preparation to become a fully sworn officer. A railroad special officer is simply a law enforcement officer authorized to provide police services on railroads. The felony battery law further applies to public transit employees such as bus operators, train conductors, and any other person employed by a public transit agency.
Finally, the enhanced statute also applies to private security guards. If the state is able to prove that a batter was committed, and the security guard was properly licensed and in uniform, you could still be convicted of the third-degree felony enhanced battery charge. If you have been arrested or charged for battery against one of the above mentioned classes of people, you may very well be shocked to learn that you can be facing felony criminal penalties. If this happens to you, you should consult with a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.Defenses to Enhanced Battery
One of the primary defenses to these types of charges is challenging the “knowledge” element of the charge. In order for the state to prove you guilty of battery against a LEO, a firefighter, physician, or security officer, they must prove that at the time of the battery, you knew or should have known that the person was acting in their official capacity. While it might be obvious that someone is a cop, it is likely less clear when someone is a security guard or hospital employee.Speak to Our Lawyers Today
The attorneys at Hanlon Law are here to discuss all of your criminal defense needs. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being charged with a crime, contact us right away at 727.289.0222.