In Indiana, you can be charged with the crime of battery if you intentionally or knowingly touch or put bodily fluid or waste on someone in a rude, angry, or insulting way. The crime is a misdemeanor if the victim wasn't hurt or suffered only minor injuries. (Ind. Code § 35-42-2-1(c), (d) (2019).)
Several factors can turn the crime of battery into a felony, including when it causes more severe injuries or involves certain types of victims or weapons. The punishment for the different types of felonies in Indiana increase from Level 6 (the least serious) to Level 1 (the most serious).
Indiana imposes harsher penalties for felony battery as the resulting injuries get worse. Penalties are also stiffer when the defendant meant to cause serious harm.
Battery is a Level 6 felony if the victim suffered a moderate injury (which can include substantial pain), or if the defendant knew (or was reckless in not knowing) that the bodily fluid or waste placed on the victim was infected with hepatitis, tuberculosis, or HIV (Ind. Code §§ 35-31.5-2-204.5, 35-42-2-1(e)(1), (f) (2019).)
Simple battery is a Level 5 felony if it results in serious bodily injury, which Indiana law defines as:
However, you can be found guilty of aggravated battery in Indiana, a Level 3 felony, if you intentionally or knowingly injure someone in a way that causes substantial risk of death, serious permanent disfigurement, lasting impairment, or the loss of the fetus.
The difference between these two types of battery depends on the intention to injure someone, rather than the nature of the injury. Before you can be found guilty of aggravated battery, the prosecution must prove that you actually meant to inflict serious injury, not merely that you intentionally acted in a way that ultimately resulted in serious injury. For example, it would likely be considered aggravated battery if you purposefully shot someone in the face, but it might only be a Level 5 felony if you punched someone who blacked out as a result of the blow. (Ind. Code §§ 35-31.5-2-292, 35-42-2-1(g)(1), 35-42-2-1.5 (2019).)
It's also a Level 5 felony if you use a deadly weapon to commit battery, regardless of any resulting injuries. Under Indiana law, deadly weapons include:
(Ind. Code §§ 35-41-2-86, 35-42-2-1 (2019).)
Battery is also a felony in Indiana when the defendant has previously been convicted of battery against the same victim, or when the crime results in injury to certain types of victims, including:
The punishment for battery against some of these protected victims becomes more severe with more serious injuries. (Ind. Code Ann. § § 12-10-3-2, 35-31.5-2-128, 35-42-2-1 (2019).)
Indiana treats domestic violence, in the form of battery against a family or household member, as a felony under certain circumstances, including when:
In Indiana, family or household members include people who have dated or been in a sexual relationship, spouses, relatives, coparents, and the minor children of any of these people. (Ind. Code §§ 35-31.5-2-128, 35-42-2-1.3 (2019).)
Look Out for Legal Changes
States can change their laws at any time, so it's always a good idea to check the current statute. You can use this search tool to find the Indiana codes discussed in this article.
Being charged with a felony battery crime can result in serious consequences, including a prison sentence, fine, and criminal record. With the assistance of a criminal defense attorney, however, you may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed, be acquitted, or receive 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.