In Indiana, a person commits the crime of felony battery by touching someone in a rude or disrespectful way and inflicting serious injury or using a deadly weapon. Domestic battery is also a felony when the defendant has prior convictions for similar conduct or commits the offense in front of a child.
Batteries that cause injury to certain protected victims may be punished as a felony or a misdemeanor, as explained below. A battery that causes mere bodily injury (not "serious" physical injury), or that causes no injury, is a misdemeanor. For more information on these crimes, see Indiana Battery Laws.
Under Indiana’s laws, the crime of aggravated battery is committed by intentionally inflicting injury that creates a substantial risk of death or causes serious and permanent disfigurement, lasting impairment of any part of the body, or loss of a fetus.
(Ind. Code Ann. § 35-42-2-1.5.)
The crime of aggravated battery is punished severely because the defendant intentionally inflicts injury. Intentionally shooting someone in the face would likely be considered aggravated battery.
Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury
In Indiana, the crime of battery causing serious bodily injury is committed by intentionally or knowingly touching another person in a rude, insolent, or angry manner that results in serious bodily injury to the victim. Serious bodily injury creates a substantial risk of death or causes serious and permanent disfigurement, unconsciousness, extreme pain, loss of a fetus, or permanent or lasting impairment of any part of the body.
(Ind. Code Ann. § 35-41-1-25, 35-42-2-1.)
For this type of battery, the defendant does not necessarily intend to inflict serious damage (as with aggravated battery), but rather intentionally engages in conduct that results in serious injury. For example, punching someone so hard that the blow resulted in unconsciousness or extreme pain would likely be considered battery causing serious bodily injury.
Battery Committed by a Deadly Weapon
Battery committed by means of a deadly weapon is also felony battery. Under Indiana’s laws, a deadly weapon is any:
- firearm (whether loaded or unloaded)
- taser or stun gun, or
- other weapon (including a biological weapon), animal, or material capable of causing serious bodily injury in the way it is used or intended to be used.
The law exempts tasers, stun guns, gas, and other devices used by law enforcement officers in the course of the officers’ official duties.
Objects such as knives or attack dogs might be considered deadly weapons if used in such a way that serious injury could result.
(Ind. Code Ann. § 35-41-1-8, 35-42-2-1.)
Battery Causing Bodily Injury Against Protected Victims
Indiana’s laws also punish more severely any battery that causes bodily injury (any injury, including pain) when the victim is:
- a police officer, community policing volunteer, correctional officer or employee, firefighter, health care provider, school employee, or employee of the department of child services, and is engaged in official or job duties
- a child under the age of 14 years and the defendant is 18 years or older
- a family or household member (spouses, people who have dated, people related by blood, marriage and adoption, people who have children together, guardians, wards, custodians, and foster children), and the defendant is over the age of 18 and committed the offense in the presence of a child 16 years old or younger, knowing that the child was present and might be able to observe the offense
- mentally or physically disabled and the defendant is a person who takes care of the victim
- a pregnant woman and the defendant knows of the pregnancy, or
- an endangered adult.
Endangered adults are unable to care for themselves or manage their property because of mental illness, mental retardation, addiction, dementia, or other physical or mental incapacity.
Indiana law also punishes more severely battery causing bodily injury when the defendant has previously been convicted of battery against the same victim.
(Ind. Code Ann. §§ 12-10-3-2, 35-41-1-10.6, 35-42-2-1.)
Felony Battery by Body Waste
In Indiana, battery by body waste (placing blood, human waste, or another bodily fluid such as semen or saliva) on a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, firefighter, first responder, probation officer, or court or child services employee is a felony if the bodily fluid or waste is infected with hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, AIDS, or tuberculosis. The defendant must have known of the infection or was reckless in failing to know of the infection.
(Ind. Code Ann. § 35-42-2-6.)
Felony Domestic Battery
Under Indiana’s laws, the crime of domestic battery is committed by causing bodily injury against certain relatives or romantic partners, including current and former spouses, people who live together or have lived together as spouses, and people who have children together.
Domestic battery is a felony if the defendant:
- has prior convictions for domestic battery (in Indiana or another state), or
- committed the offense in the presence of a child 16 years old or younger, knowing that the child was present and might be able to observe the offense.
(Ind. Code Ann. § 35-42-2-1.3.)
For more information on domestic violence, see Domestic Violence in Indiana.
Class A Felony. Batteries by an adult (someone 18 years or older) against a person under 14 years old that cause death are punished by 20 to 50 years’ imprisonment and fine of up to $10,000.
Class B Felony. The following batteries are punishable by between six and 20 years in prison and fine of up to $10,000:
- aggravated battery
- battery by an adult (someone 18 years or older) against a person under 14 years old that cause serious bodily injury, and
- battery against an endangered adult that results in death.
Class C Felony. The following batteries are punishable by two to eight years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000:
- battery that causes serious bodily injury
- battery committed with a deadly weapon
- battery against an endangered adult that results in serious bodily injury, and
- battery against a pregnant woman that causes bodily injury.
Felony battery by bodily waste is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and anywhere from six months in jail to 50 years in prison, depending on the disease, and whether the battery results in transmission of the disease.
Felony domestic battery is a Class D felony, punishable by between six months in jail and three years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
Battery causing bodily injury to a protected victim is a Class D felony, but the judge may reduce the conviction to a Class A misdemeanor (punishable by up to one year in a jail and a fine of up to $5,000), so long as the defendant has not had a prior felony conviction reduced in the past three years. The judge must state, on the record, the reason for reducing the felony conviction to a misdemeanor.
(Ind. Code Ann. §§ 35-42-2-1, 35-42-2-1.5, 35-42-2-6, 35-50-2-1.3, 35-50-2-4, 35-50-2-5, 35-50-2-6, 35-50-2-7.)
Getting Legal Advice and Representation
Being charged with a felony battery crime can result in serious consequences, including a prison sentence, a fine, and a criminal record. Or, most likely with the assistance of a criminal defense attorney, you may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed, or obtain a not guilty verdict or a lighter sentence than the maximum allowed by law. An Indiana criminal defense attorney will be able to tell you how your case is likely to fare in court, help you navigate the criminal justice system, and make the strongest arguments on your behalf.