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By Jeff Terrill
Fort Wayne Reader
The question isn’t whether you have ever been battered. Instead, the question is how many times throughout your life have you been the victim of a battery. Violence is everywhere. When you are watching the news, playing a video game or reading a book, you will likely be exposed to multiple violent references. When you think of the crime of battery, don’t you envision fists, cuts, bleeding and bruises? This article is in no way intended to minimize the adverse impact of violence upon its victims. The focus, however, is to show just how common it is to be the victim of a battery.
Under Indiana law, a battery is defined as a knowing or intentional touching of another person in a “rude, insolent or angry manner.” So, if someone purposely touches you rudely or angrily, then you have been battered. Have you ever been pushed or tripped or had your hair pulled? Ever get drilled by a water balloon? Maybe it’s been a while, but you can probably remember a few occasions when you didn’t appreciate the way a friend, acquaintance or stranger “touched” you in a manner you might describe as impolite. You don’t have to be punched to be battered. And, you don’t have to be in need of medical attention to be the victim of such a crime.
In Indiana, a person who commits a battery can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Now, if that same person with knowledge touches another person in a rude or angry manner that results in bodily injury, then the offense is elevated to a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000.
So what does “bodily injury” mean? Well, it is defined in our criminal code as “any impairment of physical condition, including physical pain.” So it appears the definition of “bodily injury” could include many types of contact. Pursuant to my own definition and pain threshold, I would describe a pulled nose hair as the source of excruciating pain. Accordingly, I suggest that anything equal to or less than that meets the criteria of bodily injury. Now, try to recall. Has someone ever touched, kicked, grabbed or thrown something at you that caused you to feel pain? Yes? Well, if so you could have been the victim of a Class A misdemeanor violent offense.
Kids are a productive source of batteries. Siblings can also be prolific inflictors of batteries. If you grew up with brothers or sisters, you likely were the recipient of multiple counts of battery that spanned several years. Sports like football, basketball and soccer foster an atmosphere likely to increase the chances that a participant will be pushed or bumped or shoved. Just because the referee doesn’t call a foul (and even if a foul is called) doesn’t mean you weren’t also the victim of a battery. I don’t recall any arrests occurring during games I played in, but I suppose there could have been.
For good reasons, the law also aggravates batteries that occur against police officers, firefighters and jail employees. For example, a person who touches a police officer in a rude manner but that results in no pain commits a Class A misdemeanor (as opposed to a Class B misdemeanor for a victim who is not a police officer). The offense is enhanced to a Class D felony if that rude touching results in injury or pain. The same is true if the victim has a mental or physical disability or if the victim is an employee of a school corporation (and is engaged in his or her official duties). In Indiana, a Class D felony is punishable up to three years in prison and carries a maximum fine of $10,000. Accordingly, an eighteen year old high school senior who pushes a teacher could end up being convicted of a Class D felony battery and sentenced to finish his education in prison. I’m guessing that some teachers, bus drivers and assistant principals aren’t aware that they might have been the victim of a felony battery.
In some circumstances, a battery can also be charged as a Class C felony punishable up to eight years in prison with a fine up to $10,000. A person who batters another person resulting in serious bodily injury could go to prison for eight years. “Extreme pain” can be enough to support a finding of serious bodily injury. An adult who batters a child and causes serious bodily injury could be guilty of a Class B felony which is punishable up to twenty years in prison.
In case you are now busy assessing the damage inflicted upon you over the years, maybe you should also try to figure out just how many times you were the one committing the “battery.” Push, pull or grab someone? Remember dunking your brother’s head under the water at the pool? Ever connect with a snowball to your friend’s head? Under the law, you committed battery.
Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at his firm’s website at www.fortwaynedefense.com.
This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have.