In Indiana, a person commits battery by “knowingly or intentionally touch[ing] another person in a rude, insolent, or angry manner” (Ind. Code § 35-42-2-1(a)). Basically, battery involves a conscious decision to touch another person improperly.
Battery can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. When charged as a felony, the prosecutor can choose among different levels, ranging from a Class D felony all the way up to a Class A felony (the most serious). The different levels of battery depend upon several factors, including the seriousness of a victim’s injury, whether the defendant used a deadly weapon, and (in some cases) whether Indiana law gives the victim special protection. This article deals solely with felony battery.
(Ind. Code § 35-42-2-1.)
To read about misdemeanor battery, see Misdemeanor Battery in Indiana.
Class D Felony Battery
The lowest level felony battery is Class D felony battery. The crime occurs when an improper touch causes “bodily injury” to a victim who falls within one of 14 categories of protected victims.
(Ind. Code § 35-42-2-1(a)(2).)
A “bodily injury” occurs when a victim suffered at least some physical – not mental – injury or pain. That is because Indiana law defines bodily injury as “any impairment of physical condition, including physical pain.” (Ind. Code § 35-41-1-4.)
The 14 categories where battery resulting in bodily injury is a Class D felony involve:
- law enforcement officers (which includes an alcoholic beverage enforcement officer) performing their “official duty,” or a person “summoned and directed by the officer”
- a person younger than 14 years old who is injured by a person who is at least 18 years old
- an injury by a caregiver of a person with a mental or physical disability
- committing battery against a victim following a prior conviction for battery against that same victim
- an endangered adult
- employees of the department of correction performing their official duties
- employees of a school corporation performing their official duties
- a correctional professional (which includes probation officers, parole officers, home detention officers, and community corrections workers) performing their official duties
- a health care provider performing their official duties
- employees of a penal facility or juvenile detention facility performing their official duty
- firefighters performing their official duty
- community policing volunteers either performing their duties or who are a victim of a battery simply because of being a community policing volunteer
- a battery committed by a family or household member who is at least 18 years old if the attacker knows that a child less than 16 years old is present and might be able to hear or see the attack, or
- employees of the department of child services performing their official duties.
(Ind. Code § 35-42-2-1(a)(2)(A) – (N).)
Class C Felony Battery
Battery is a Class C felony in three situations. The first is when a person, knowing that a woman is pregnant, causes her to suffer a physical injury. Second, battery is elevated to a Class C felony from Class D when a victim suffers not just a physical injury but a more extensive “serious bodily injury.” Third, battery will be a Class C felony if the battery is committed with a “deadly weapon,” regardless of the extent of injury. The second and third instances are explained more fully below.
(Ind. Code § 35-42-2-1(a)(3).)
Serious bodily injury
To rise to the level of a Class C felony, a battery must result in more than the minimal pain associated with a simple physical injury. Indiana law defines a serious physical injury as an injury that “creates a substantial risk of death or that causes . . . serious permanent disfigurement; . . . unconsciousness; . . . extreme pain; . . . permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ; or . . . loss of a fetus.” (Ind. Code § 35-41-1-25.) While the Class C felony battery law covers a “serious bodily injury” to anyone, Indiana has enacted a stand-alone provision making it also a Class C felony to cause “serious bodily injury” to “an endangered adult.” (Ind. Code § 35-42-2-1(a)(6).)
Prosecutors can charge a Class C felony when the suspect committed a battery by using a “deadly weapon,” even if no physical injury resulted. A deadly weapon includes a firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, and a knife. The term includes any object (or even an animal) that, while not usually a weapon, can nonetheless be used in a way that is readily able to cause serious injury.
(Ind. Code § 35-41-1-8(a).)
Class B Felony Battery
Battery can be charged as a Class B felony in two instances. The first is when a person who is at least 18 years old commits a battery that results in “serious bodily injury” to a victim who is younger than 14 years old. The second is when a battery results in the death of an endangered adult.
(Ind. Code § 35-42-2-1(a)(4), (7 ).)
Class A Felony Battery
Battery is a Class A felony only when a person who is at least 18 years old commits a battery that results in the death of a victim who is younger than 14 years old.
(Ind. Code § 35-42-2-1(a)(5))
Felony battery can range from a lower-level Class D felony all the way up to a Class A felony. The punishments imposed for a battery conviction depend on the level of the crime. Obviously, the more serious the crime, the more severe the penalty. Punishments include probation, terms of imprisonment, and fines.
In Indiana, a judge imposes what is called a “fixed term” of imprisonment. That allows the judge to select a specific length of imprisonment from a range. For example, if the range of imprisonment is from 6 months to 3 years, a judge can impose a 6 month term, a 3 year term, or anything in between. In addition, felony convictions have “advisory sentences” that represent the Indiana legislature’s suggestion for an appropriate sentence. Advisory sentences are always greater than the minimum term of the range, but less than the maximum term. A judge has the option of simply imposing the advisory sentence. A judge can also suspend a portion of a prison sentence, with the result that a defendant will be placed on probation for the remainder of the sentence. Finally, a judge has the power to impose a fine but does not have to.
Class D penalties
Conviction for battery as a Class D felony can result in a prison term of anywhere between 6 months to 3 years, with the advisory sentence being 1 and ½ years. In addition, the conviction can result in a fine up to $10,000.
A judge has the power to reduce a Class D felony conviction to a Class A misdemeanor and then impose a Class A misdemeanor sentence. A judge will not be able to reduce the D felony conviction if the defendant committed another felony within 3 years of committing the Class D felony and that earlier felony was reduced to a misdemeanor. Also, a D felony conviction for domestic battery cannot be reduced.
(Ind. Code § 35-50-2-7.)
Class C penalties
Battery as a Class C felony carries a range of imprisonment of between 2 to 8 years, with an advisory sentence of 4 years, as well as a fine up to $10,000.
(Ind. Code § 35-50-2-6.)
Class B penalties
A Class B battery conviction carries an imprisonment range of between 6 to 20 years, with an advisory sentence of 10 years, and a fine of up to $10,000.
(Ind. Code § 35-50-2-5.)
Class A penalties
Finally, battery as a Class A felony carries a term of imprisonment between 20 to 50 years, with the advisory sentence being 30 years. There is again a discretionary fine of up to $10,000.
(Ind. Code § 35-50-2-4.)
Consult With a Lawyer
Being charged with felony battery is a serious matter. You would be wise to consult with an attorney having knowledge of the battery laws and penalties applicable in your particular case. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney may be able to convince either a prosecutor or a jury that a defendant either did not intend to cause an injury, or did not cause a serious enough injury to merit a charge of felony battery. That could result in lesser punishment or even dismissal of a case.