UNDERSTANDING BATTERY IN INDIANA
In this article, we will examine Indiana’s battery laws to better understand the laws and to understand the potential penalties one might face if charged with battery in Indiana. We have already discussed the laws regarding Domestic Battery in Indiana in a prior article, so those laws will not be reviewed here.
In this article we are going to answer the following questions:
- What is considered battery in Indiana?
- What is misdemeanor battery in Indiana?
- Is battery considered a felony in Indiana?
- What are the potential penalties for a battery conviction in Indiana?
- Do you lose your gun rights following a battery conviction in Indiana?
- Is it possible to restore gun rights after a felony battery conviction?
- What are some potential defenses to battery charges in Indiana?
While this article aims to provide informative and educational insights, it should not be considered a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney. If you or a loved one is facing battery charges in Indiana, consult an experienced Indiana Battery Attorney.
What is Considered Battery in Indiana?
Terms like assault, assault and battery, simple assault, and felonious battery are often used to describe crimes involving physical violence against individuals. However, each state has its unique terminology and classification for such offenses. In Indiana, this crime is referred to as “battery,” and it is defined by Indiana Code (I.C) 35-42-2-1 (c) as follows:
A person who knowingly or intentionally:
(1) touches another person in a rude, insolent, or angry manner; or
(2) in a rude, insolent, or angry manner places any bodily fluid or waste on another person.
To better understand the scope of battery in Indiana, let’s break down the key elements of this definition:
- Knowingly or intentionally: The accused must be aware of their actions and have the intent to commit the act. Accidental or unintentional physical contact may not qualify as battery.
- Touches another person: Battery involves physical contact with another person. This contact can range from a slight touch to a forceful hit. It is important to note that causing injury is not a requirement for a battery charge in Indiana, but battery resulting in injury enhances the level of the charges as we will see below.
- Rude, insolent, or angry manner: The manner in which the contact occurs is crucial to determining if the act qualifies as battery. Actions driven by hostility, disrespect, or aggression can be considered rude, insolent, or angry. Context is also important. For example, throwing someone to the ground would normally be battery. But what if you’re playing football? What is ultimately rude, insolent, or angry is up to a Judge or Jury to decide. However, it is very subjective and intent can be inferred based on conduct, e.g., yelling, swearing, or other physical manifestations.
- Places any bodily fluid or waste on another person: Battery can also involve the placement of bodily fluids or waste on another person, such as spitting on someone or throwing waste at them, provided that it is done in a rude, insolent, or angry manner.
What is Misdemeanor Battery in Indiana?
The least severe classification of Battery in Indiana is a Class B Misdemeanor. Class B Misdemeanor Battery will generally not involve any bodily injury to the victim. For example, if you push someone out of the way to cut in line at the grocery store, you can potentially be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor Battery, even if they were not injured.
However, a Battery charge can be elevated to a Class A Misdemeanor Battery if it:
(1) results in bodily injury to any other person; or
(2) is committed against a member of a foster family home by a person who is not a resident of the foster family home if the person who committed the offense is a relative of a person who lived in the foster family home at the time of the offense.
Returning to the grocery store example, if that person you pushed fell and claimed injury, you could be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, even without any visible injuries. This is because bodily injury is defined by law as any “impairment of physical condition, including physical pain.” I.C. 35-31.5-2-29. Therefore, even if the injury only resulted in pain or discomfort, you can still be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor Battery.
Is Battery Considered a Felony in Indiana?
A Battery charge can be classified as a felony in Indiana, but as we will see in further detail below, it depends on a few things:
- The amount/extent of injury inflicted on the victim;
- The use of a deadly weapon; and
- The identity of the victim.
LEVEL 6 FELONY BATTERY
A battery charge can be elevated from a Misdemeanor to a Level 6 Felony if:
(1) The offense results in moderate bodily injury to any other person.
(2) The offense is committed against a public safety official while the official is engaged in the official’s official duty.
(3) The offense is committed against a person less than fourteen (14) years of age and is committed by a person at least eighteen (18) years of age.
(4) The offense is committed against a person of any age who has a mental or physical disability and is committed by a person having the care of the person with the mental or physical disability, whether the care is assumed voluntarily or because of a legal obligation.
(5) The offense is committed against an endangered adult
(6) The offense:
(A) is committed against a member of a foster family home by a person who is not a resident of the foster family home if the person who committed the offense is a relative of a person who lived in the foster family home at the time of the offense; and
(B) results in bodily injury to the member of the foster family.
It is important to note here that a Battery can be enhanced to a Level 6 Felony based on the category or class of the victim, without the need for any bodily injury. So, again returning to the example of grocery store, if you push a child who is 13 years or younger to get ahead in line, and you are 18 years of age or older, you could be charged with a Level 6 Felony, even without actually causing the child any injury.
Furthermore, moderate bodily injury is defined by law as “any impairment of physical condition that includes substantial pain.” I.C. 35-31.5-2-204.5. While the Supreme Court has yet to fully address what constitutes moderate bodily injury, simply applying logic and the meaning of the language, you can argue that it falls somewhere between more than bodily injury and less than serious bodily injury (as discussed below).
You can also be charged with a Level 6 Felony Battery if you knew or recklessly failed to know that the bodily fluid or waste placed on another person was infected with hepatitis, tuberculosis, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
LEVEL 5 FELONY BATTERY
The next Felony for Battery in Indiana is a Level 5 Felony. A Battery charge can be enhanced to a Level 5 Felony if one or more of the following apply:
(1) The offense results in serious bodily injury to another person.
(2) The offense is committed with a deadly weapon.
(3) The offense results in bodily injury to a pregnant woman if the person knew of the pregnancy.
(4) The person has a previous conviction for a battery offense included in this chapter against the same victim.
(5) The offense results in bodily injury to one (1) or more of the following:
(A) A public safety official while the official is engaged in the official’s official duties.
(B) A person less than fourteen (14) years of age if the offense is committed by a person at least eighteen (18) years of age.
(C) A person who has a mental or physical disability if the offense is committed by an individual having care of the person with the disability, regardless of whether the care is assumed voluntarily or because of a legal obligation.
(D) An endangered adult.
The term “serious bodily injury” is defined by Indiana Law in I.C. 35-31.5-2-292 as bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes:
(1) serious permanent disfigurement;
(3) extreme pain;
(4) permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ; or
(5) loss of a fetus.”
One example of serious bodily injury as it relates to Battery in Indiana, is the bar fight. If you start a fight (so no self-defense) and hit a person who become unconscious because of your punch(es) you could potentially be charged with a Level 5 Felony Battery charge.
As far as what constitutes a deadly weapon, the Indiana Court of Appeals applied a two-part test to determine if an object is a deadly weapon. First, whether the weapon had the actual ability to inflict serious injury in the situation. Second, whether a person had the apparent ability to seriously injure another person through the use of the object. (see Frey v. State, 580 N.E.2d 362 (Ind. Ct. App. 1991)).
LEVEL 4 FELONY BATTERY
You can be charged with a Level 4 Felony Battery in Indiana if results in serious bodily injury to an endangered adult.
LEVEL 3 FELONY BATTERY
You can be charged with a Level 3 Felony Battery in Indiana if it results in serious bodily injury to a person less than fourteen (14) years of age if the offense is committed by a person at least eighteen (18) years of age.
LEVEL 2 FELONY BATTERY
Finally, you can be charged with a Level 2 Felony if it results in the death of the one (1) or more of the following:
(1) A person less than fourteen (14) years of age if the offense is committed by a person at least eighteen (18) years of age.
(2) An endangered adult.
AGGRAVATED BATTERY IN INDIANA
Aggravated Battery is the final category of battery charges in Indiana that we will discuss in this article. Under I.C. 35-42-2-1.5, Aggravated Battery is defined as when:
A person who knowingly or intentionally inflicts injury on a person that creates a substantial risk of death or causes:
(1) serious permanent disfigurement;
(2) protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ; or
(3) the loss of a fetus;
commits aggravated battery, a Level 3 felony. However, the offense is a Level 1 felony if it results in the death of a child less than fourteen (14) years of age and is committed by a person at least eighteen (18) years of age.
So going back to the bar fight example, assume that instead of hitting an individual with your fists, you pick up a pool stick and hit that person in the face, breaking a tooth. Is that enough to be charged with Aggravated Battery due to loss of a bodily member or organ?
The Indiana Court of Appeals held that it was enough. In Smith v. State, 881 N.E.2d 1040 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008), the Indiana Court of Appeals held that in interpreting Indiana law and other cases “a tooth is a bodily member or organ for purposes of Indiana Code section 35-42-2-1.5.”
What are the potential penalties for a battery conviction in Indiana?
Below are the possible sentence ranges for a Battery conviction in Indiana:
|Level/Class||Sentences (Min. – Max.)||Advisory Sentence||Potential Fine|
|Level 1 Felony||20 – 40 Years||30 Years||$0 – $10,000|
|Level 2 Felony||10 – 30 Years||17.5 Years|
|Level 3 Felony||3 – 16 Years||9 Years||$0 – $10,000|
|Level 4 Felony||2 – 12 Years||6 Years||$0 – $10,000|
|Level 5 Felony||1 – 6 Years||3 years||$0 – $10,000|
|Level 6 Felony||6 Months – 2.5 Years||1 year||$0 – $10,000|
|Class A Misdemeanor||0 Days – 1 Year||$0 – $5,000|
|Class B Misdemeanor||0 Days – 180 Days||$0 – $5,000|
Do you lose your Gun Rights following a Battery conviction in Indiana?
Maybe. As we discussed in a previous article, a conviction for Domestic Battery (both Misdemeanor or Felony), in Indiana does acts a prohibitor to owning or possessing a firearm under both Federal and Indiana law.
However, a Misdemeanor Battery conviction which is not Domestic Battery, does NOT cause you to lose your firearm rights. But a Felony Battery conviction DOES cause you to lose your gun rights as discussed below.
One of the most common prohibitions we encounter to possessing a firearm under federal law is under 18 USCS § 922(g)(1), regarding a person who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. It is important to note that in Indiana, only felony convictions are punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year. Also, notice that the statute uses the word “punishable”, not “punished”, meaning that even though a person convicted of a felony in Indiana may not have been actually sentenced to a term of imprisonment exceeding one year, they still could have been. Therefore, under the federal gun laws, ANY Indiana felony conviction will prohibit you from possessing a firearm, regardless of the actual sentence received.
Also, under Indiana law, a person who has been convicted of committing a serious violent felony cannot possess a firearm. Violation of this statute is a Level 4 felony. The relevant list of battery convictions considered serious violent felonies are listed in Indiana Code 35-47-4-8, as follows:
(4) Battery (IC 35-42-2-1) as a:
(A) Class A felony, Class B felony, or Class C felony, for a crime committed before July 1, 2014; or
(B) Level 2 felony, Level 3 felony, Level 4 felony, or Level 5 felony, for a crime committed after June 30, 2014;
(6) Aggravated battery (IC 35-42-2-1.5).
So, under Indiana law only a Level 2-5 Felony Battery conviction (or Class A – C Felony for older convictions) cause you to lose your gun rights. However, since you need to pass both Federal and Indiana background checks to own a firearm, a Level 6 Felony Battery conviction will still act a prohibitor since any felony conviction acts as a Federal prohibitor to owning a firearm.
Is It Possible to Restore Gun Rights After a Battery Conviction?
Yes, it is possible to restore gun rights after a Battery conviction. If a person has a Misdemeanor or Felony Battery conviction in Indiana, they may be eligible to file a petition to expunge their felony conviction.
If you would like to know more about gun rights and how to restore them, please see our article on the Indiana Gun Laws for Felons and Others.
If you would like to know more about expungement of your domestic battery or other conviction, please contact us at Indiana Expungement Lawyer.
Exploring Potential Defenses to Battery Charges in Indiana?
There are several potential defenses to charges of Battery in Indiana. Some potential defenses include the following:
- Self-Defense: If you can demonstrate that you used force to protect yourself from an imminent threat of bodily harm or violence, self-defense may be a valid defense. It is important to show that the force used was reasonable and necessary given the circumstances.
- Defense of others: Similar to self-defense, this defense applies when you used force to protect another person from imminent bodily harm or violence. The force used must be reasonable and necessary under the circumstances.
- Lack of intent: Battery charges require proof that the defendant acted intentionally or knowingly. If you can demonstrate that your actions were accidental or lacked the required intent, you may have a valid defense.
- Consent: In some rare cases, consent may be a viable defense, especially in situations where the contact was part of a mutually agreed-upon activity (e.g., sports or roughhousing).
- Necessity: This defense may be applicable if you can prove that the battery was committed out of necessity to prevent a greater harm or danger. For example, if you pushed someone out of the way to avoid an imminent collision or danger, you might argue that your actions were necessary under the circumstances. But this could also be argued as lack of intent.
There are other defenses as well, which are dependent on the specific circumstances of each case. It is important to note that the success of any defense depends on the specific facts and evidence presented in your case. A skilled Indiana battery lawyer can help you evaluate your situation, develop a strong defense strategy, and represent your best interests in court.
CALL NOW AND SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTAITON WITH AN INDIANA BATTERY LAWYER TODAY!
While this article provides a brief overview of laws regarding Battery in Indiana, it is important to note that there are many nuances and complexities that cannot be fully expressed in any article. Therefore, this article should NOT be considered a substitute for seeking the guidance of a qualified Indiana Battery Lawyer. Every Battery case is unique and requires a tailored defense strategy based on the specific facts and circumstances involved. To get the best possible outcome in your case, it’s crucial to speak with an experienced Indiana Battery Lawyer who can analyze the details of your case and provide you with a personalized legal strategy.
Avnet Law understands the issues, the law, and can advise you on how to defend yourself against a Battery charge. Avent Law represents clients throughout Central Indiana, including Noblesville, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield, and Indianapolis.
Call 1-877-77-AVNET to Schedule a Free Consultation with an Indiana Battery Lawyer today or contact us below with any questions you may have about your rights.