Under O.C.G.A § 16-5-24, a person commits an Aggravated Battery when he or she “maliciously causes bodily harm to another by depriving him/her of a member of his/her body, by rendering a member of his/her body useless, or by seriously disfiguring his/her body or a member thereof.”
The law does not require that the injury sustained by permanent, and therefore temporary serious disfigurement may be sufficient to constitute an Aggravated Battery. In the Interest of H.S., 199 Ga. App. 481, 405 S.E.2d 323 (1991).
Some of the injuries that Georgia appellate courts have found sufficient to sustain an Aggravated Battery conviction include (but certainly are not limited to):
- Blurred Vision [Taylor v. State, 178 Ga.App. 817, 344 S.E.2d 748 (1986).]
- Lost Tooth or Part of Tooth [Rivers v. State, 255 Ga.App. 422, 565 S.E.2d 596 (2002).]
- Temporary Broken Nose [Baker v. State, 246 Ga. 317, 271 S.E.2d 360 (1980).]
- Broken Finger [Ganas v. State, 245 Ga. App. 645, 537 S.E.2d 758 (2000).]
- Severe Bruising [Baker v. State, 246 Ga. 317, 271 S.E.2d 360 (1980).]
- Memory Lapses [Scott v. State, 243 Ga.App. 383, 532 S.E.2d 141 (2000).]
- Permanent Nerve Damage [Scott v. State, 243 Ga.App. 383, 532 S.E.2d 141 (2000).]
Aggravated Battery is the most serious of the battery-related charges. Unlike Simple Battery and Battery, it is always a felony offense. As such, it always carries a minimum sentence of one year, although actual sentences usually run much higher depending on the accused person’s criminal history, the seriousness of the injury, and any other aggravating factors.
Penalties for Aggravated Battery Convictions
|Offense||Classification||Penalty for Conviction|
|Aggravated Battery||Felony||At least 1 year of but not more than 20 years of imprisonment|
|Aggravated Battery Upon Public Safety Officer Who Is Engaged in Official Duties (or Who Is Targeted Because He/She is a Police Officer)||Felony||At least 10 years but not more than 20 years of imprisonment. For individuals aged 17 or older, at least 3 years of such time must be served in prison and may not be probated (unless the State and the Defense have agreed otherwise). A fine of at least $2,000 is also required.|
|Aggravated Battery Upon Person 65 Years of Age or Older||Felony||At least 5 but not more than 20 years of imprisonment.|
|Aggravated Battery in a Public Transit Vehicle or Station||Felony||At least 5 but not more than 20 years of imprisonment.|
|Aggravated Battery Upon A Student, Teacher, or Other School Personnel within a School Safety Zone||Felony||At least 5 but not more than 20 years of imprisonment.|
|Aggravated Battery Between Family Members||Felony||At least 3 but not more than 20 years of imprisonment.|
One possible defense in an Aggravated Battery case is that the actual injury sustained by the victim is not sufficiently severe to satisfy O.C.G.A. § 16-5-24.
The question of whether the victim’s injury is sufficiently serious to warrant an Aggravated Battery conviction is left for the jury to decide. Even if the jury declines to convict on an Aggravated Battery charge, an accused person may still be convicted of the lesser offense of Battery. According to the Georgia Court of Appeals, while O.C.G.A. § 16-5-24 does not specifically define what constitutes a seriously disfiguring” injury, it must require an injury more severe than the visible wounds used to illustrate the visible bodily harm” required to support a battery conviction. Williams v. State, 248 Ga.App. 316, 546 S.E.2d (2001). Because the question of the seriousness of the injury is left to the jury to decide, the Georgia Court of Appeals has also held that a judge’s failure to give accurate instructions to the jury regarding the injuries required for a battery versus those required for an aggravated battery may constitute reversible error. Carroll v. State, 293 Ga.App. 721, 667 S.E.2d 708 (2008).
A conviction for Aggravated Battery requires the jury to find that an accused person acted “maliciously” and “without justification, excuse or mitigation.” Silvers v. State, 245 Ga.App. 486, 538 S.E.2d 135 (2000). Thus, there are defenses pertaining to the accused person’s state of mind at the time of the offense. Several of these are affirmative defenses, which means that the defendant essentially admits that he or she committed the act but asserts that there was a reason for his or her actions. One such affirmative defense is self defense.
If you have been charged with Aggravated Battery, you are facing the possibility of serious prison time.
It is important that the defenses discussed on this page are just a few of the possible defenses for an Aggravated Battery charge. All defenses are largely dependent on the facts in an individual case, and no two cases are identical. For this reason, it is essential to speak with an experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney who knows the law surrounding Aggravated Battery Cases, can competently evaluate the available defenses, and who can advise you of the possible penalties in your jurisdiction.
I understand that being charged with a felony is a terrifying experience, and I will walk you through it with experience and compassion. Call me today.