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 and without permission.
Battery can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Both misdemeanors and felonies have different levels, which depend upon several factors, including the seriousness of the victims’ injury and (in some cases) whether Indiana law gives the victim special protection. This article deals solely with misdemeanor battery.
To learn about felony battery charges in Indiana, see Felony Battery in Indiana.
The least serious battery offense is a Class B misdemeanor, which involves delivering a knowing or intentional but improper touch -- for example, purposely poking a victim in the eye.
(Ind. Code § 35-42-2-1(a).)
An improper touch will, however, be charged as a more serious Class A misdemeanor if the touch is directed towards a specific type of victim or results in “bodily injury” of any victim.
An improper touch can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor if a victim suffered at least some physical—but 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.)
A conscious improper touch of certain victims will be charged as a Class A Misdemeanor, even if no injury resulted. The people who receive special protection by Indiana law are:
(Ind. Code § 35-42-2-1(a)(1)(B) to (F).)
Punishments for misdemeanor battery include probation, time in the county jail, 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. A judge can also suspend a jail sentence, in whole or part, and place a defendant on probation. A combined term of jail and probation cannot be greater than one year.
(Ind. Code § § 35-50-3-1; 35-50-3-1-2.)
A Class A misdemeanor conviction carries a range of jail time up to one year. A judge could impose a one year term, or something less, including probation (or a combination of jail time and probation totaling no more than one year). The court has the option of imposing a fine up to $5,000.
(Ind. Code § 35-50-3-2.)
A person convicted of battery as a Class B misdemeanor could receive probation or be imprisoned for no longer than 180 days (or a combination of jail time and probation totaling no more than one year), and can also be fined up to $1,000.
(Ind. Code § 35-50-3-3.)
Facing a misdemeanor battery charge is a serious matter. You would be wise to speak to a lawyer with knowledge of the battery laws and penalties applicable in your particular case. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney could succeed in convincing either a prosecutor or a jury that a defendant either did not intend to touch a victim improperly or did not cause a serious enough injury to merit a battery charge. That could result in an acquittal, lesser punishment, or even dismissal of a case.