Louisiana's battery laws make it a crime to intentionally use force or violence against another person. Battery starts as a misdemeanor but quickly escalates to a felony offense when a defendant targets certain victims, commits repeat battery offenses, uses a dangerous weapon, or causes serious bodily injury to a victim. Read on to learn how Louisiana defines and punishes battery crimes.
A person commits battery by intentionally using force or violence against another person—for instance, punching someone or hitting them with an object. It's also battery to administer a poison or noxious liquid or substance to another, such as rat poison, oven cleaner, or chemical or corrosive agents.
Certain battery crimes—those involving health care workers, police officers, or corrections officers—also include violence in the form of throwing liquids, feces, urine, saliva, blood, or any form of human waste at a victim.
(La. Rev. Stat. §§ 14:33, 14:34.2, 14:34.5; 14:34.8 (2022).)
Below are Louisiana's definitions of simple, aggravated, and second-degree batteries.
Simple battery involves force or violence committed against another without a dangerous weapon.
Aggravated battery is a battery committed with a dangerous weapon. The law defines a "dangerous weapon" as any object, substance, gas, or liquid used to cause great bodily harm or death to another. A dangerous weapon can be a knife, brass knuckles, or an unloaded firearm. But it can also be an everyday object or substance that can cause great bodily harm by the manner in which it's used, such as a rock or pipe.
Second-degree battery refers to any battery committed where the defendant intends to inflict serious bodily injury. "Serious bodily injury" means bodily injury that involves unconsciousness, extreme physical pain or protracted and obvious disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty, or a substantial risk of death. Examples of serious bodily injuries include fracturing a bone or causing injuries that require surgery or intensive care or result in significant scarring.
(La. Rev. Stat. §§ 14:2, 14:34, 14:34.1, 14:35 (2022).)
Simple battery crimes start off as a misdemeanor but can quickly become a felony with potential prison time.
The penalties for simple battery are up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
The court can impose more jail time or even prison time if a battery is committed against certain protected victims. For protected workers, the defendant must have reason to know the person's occupation and that they are acting in their professional capacity.
These protected victims include:
In some cases, the law restricts judges from suspending a portion of the sentence, which means the defendant must serve that time behind bars. Many of the felony sentences range from one to five years of prison time. A person convicted of battery on a sports official will also have to complete community service hours and anger management courses.
Louisiana makes imposes misdemeanor and felony penalties for domestic battery committed upon a dating partner or family or household member.
A first or second offense carries misdemeanor penalties. But if the offense is committed against a pregnant woman or involves strangulation or burning of a victim, an offender must be imprisoned to hard labor for up to three years. Felony penalties also apply for third and subsequent offenses. A third offense is punishable by one to five years in prison but subsequent offenses can mean 10 to 30 years in prison. The defendant may also be prohibited from possessing firearms.
(La. Rev. Stat. §§ 14:34.2, 14:34.3, 14:34.4, 14:34.5, 14:34.5.1, 14:34.8, 14:34.9, 14:35, 14:35.1, 14:35.2, 14:35.3 (2022).)
Aggravated battery and second-degree battery are both felony offenses. Louisiana law doesn't designate an aggravated or second-degree offense level for domestic battery. However, similar felony penalties apply when domestic battery involves serious bodily injuries or a dangerous weapon—so it's included in this section.
A defendant convicted of second-degree battery by intentionally causing a victim serious bodily injury faces up to eight years in prison. The penalty for aggravated battery committed with a weapon is a 10-year felony, plus fines of up to $5,000. Both offenses impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 12 to 18 months if the defendant committed the crime against a person based on their status as an active military member or disabled veteran.
Aggravated second-degree battery is a battery committed with a dangerous weapon and with intent to inflict serious bodily injury. This offense carries up to 15 years of prison time and $10,000 in fines. A one-year mandatory minimum sentence applies if a defendant committed the crime based on the person's status as a disabled veteran or active military member.
Penalties imposed for domestic battery against a family member, household member, or dating partner carry stiff penalties ranging from 8 to 50 years of prison time.
(La. Rev. Stat. §§ 14:34, 14:34.1, 14:34.7, 14:35.3, 14:34.9 (2022).)
The sentencing options for battery crimes often depend on the circumstances of the offense and the defendant's criminal history of similar crimes. In most battery cases, a judge will also order the defendant to pay restitution to compensate the victim for any monetary losses, such as medical bills or property damages.
For many first-time offenders, a judge may suspend a sentence and place the offender on supervised or unsupervised probation for all or part of the sentence. The maximum period of probation for misdemeanor battery is two years. Other options for misdemeanor and some felony cases include deferred sentencing, home confinement, and community service in lieu of incarceration.
Judges may be more restricted in felony battery cases. For instance, Louisiana law places certain restrictions on allowing suspended sentences for felonies that are designated as "crimes of violence." A crime of violence is any offense that may be committed by the use of force and involves a substantial risk of physical force occurring. Aggravated second-degree battery is always considered a crime of violence for sentencing purposes. Other battery crimes may be designated as such.
Mandatory minimum sentences apply if a defendant commits a felony battery or misdemeanor simple battery or domestic abuse battery while possessing or by using or discharging a firearm. The mandatory minimum sentence for actually possessing a firearm during the offense is two years of prison time. Use of a firearm carries a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence, while discharge of a firearm results in a 10-year minimum. Unless prohibited, a judge may choose to waive the mandatory sentence if the judge finds it excessive.
Many of the sentencing provisions for battery crimes include mandatory minimum sentences. The law prohibits judges from waiving mandatory minimums for aggravated battery, domestic abuse battery, second-degree battery, and aggravated second-degree battery.
A person convicted of a second or subsequent felony could fall subject to Louisiana's habitual felony offender laws. Under these laws, a judge must impose minimum sentences that are not eligible for probation or parole. Some offenders will face enhanced penalties that can double or triple the maximum sentence or subject the offender to a life sentence, depending on the number and type of past felonies (such as those for crimes of violence or sex crimes).
(La. Rev. Stat. § 15:529.1; La. Code Crim. Proc. arts. 883.2, 890.1, 893, 893.3, 893.5, 894, 894.2 (2022).)
If you're facing charges for a battery crime, contact a local criminal defense attorney. A battery conviction is serious. A lawyer can help explain the consequences of a conviction and zealously defend you and protect your rights.