Battery vs. Domestic Battery in Indiana
In general, the difference between battery and domestic battery in Indiana is simply the victim of the crime. For an offense to be considered domestic battery, the victim must be a family or household member, while for a regular battery offense, the victim can be anyone that is not a family or household member. However, there is a bit more nuance to the Indiana battery laws contained Indiana Code 35-42-2. So, for the purposes of further clarifying the differences between these offenses, this post will examine laws regarding battery, aggravated battery, sexual battery, and domestic battery in Indiana.
If you have been charged with any type of battery, including domestic battery, do not hesitate to contact the criminal defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our Indiana domestic battery attorneys have extensive experience defending those accused of domestic violence and can help you create an effective and aggressive defense aimed at reducing, dismissing or acquitting the charges made against you. To speak with an attorney about your case today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Laws on Battery in Indiana
The criminal offense of battery in Indiana occurs when a person knowingly or intentionally touches another person in a rude, insolent or angry manner. It may also occur when a person, in the same manner, places any sort of bodily fluid or waste on another person. At its lowest level, this offense is considered to be a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by 0-180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Indiana Code 35-42-2-1, however, lists a handful of more serious forms of battery, which could result in much harsher penalties. These additional forms of battery include, but are not limited to:
- Class A misdemeanor battery – If an alleged victim sustained a bodily injury, an improper touch is a Class A misdemeanor. In addition, if the battery charge resulting from an improper touch involved a special victim, like a police or correctional officer, but did not result in injury, it would be considered a Class A misdemeanor.
- Battery causing moderate injury or risk of infection – If an alleged victim sustained a moderate injury or if the defendant knew (or should’ve known) that the bodily fluid placed on the victim contained HIV, hepatitis, or tuberculosis, they would be charged with a Level 6 felony
- Battery causing serious injury – If an alleged victim sustained a serious injury, an offender may be charged with a Level 5 felony
- Battery with a deadly weapon – If a defendant uses a deadly weapon, like a firearm, stun gun, or taser, to commit battery, it is a Level 5 felony, regardless of the severity of the victim’s injuries
As defined in Indiana Code 35-42-2-1.5, aggravated battery is an offense that occurs when a person knowingly or intentionally inflicts injury on a person that creates a substantial risk of death or causes serious permanent disfigurement; protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ; or the loss of a fetus. This offense is considered a Level 3 felony, which, per the Indiana Sentencing Guidelines, could result in a sentence of up to 16 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
Per Indiana Code 35-42-4-8, sexual battery occurs when a person who, with the intent to arouse or satisfy their own sexual desires (or the sexual desires of another person) touches another person who is compelled to submit to the touching by force or the imminent threat of force. Sexual battery may also occur when, rather than being compelled to submit, the victim is so mentally disabled or deficient that consent to the touching cannot be given. In addition, sexual battery may occur when a person simply touches another person’s genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or a female breast when that person is unaware that the touching is occurring.
Sexual battery in Indiana is considered a Level 6 felony, and a conviction could result in the offender being sentenced to up to 2.5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. In addition, a convicted individual will need to register as a sex offender in Indiana for a period of up to ten years following the end of their sentence.
Under some circumstances, a sexual battery conviction can be elevated to a Level 4 felony. Per Indiana Code 35-42-4-8(b), this may occur if the act was committed or facilitated by:
- the use or threat of the use of deadly force
- while armed with a deadly weapon
- furnishing the victim, without their knowledge, with a drug or controlled substance
- while knowing that the victim had been given a drug or controlled substance without their knowledge
In the state of Indiana, a Level 4 felony carries incredibly harsh penalties, including up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Furthermore, under the Indiana sex offender laws in Indiana Code 11-8-8-19, those convicted of Level 4 felony will be required to register as a sex or violent offender for the duration of their life.
Laws on Domestic Battery in Indiana
Many individuals use the phrases “domestic violence” and “domestic battery” interchangeably. However, there is an important distinction to be made between the two offense types. Generally, the phrase domestic violence relates to a broad array of offenses against a family member, intimate partner, or spouse, such as stalking, invasion of privacy, or criminal confinement. In contrast, the laws on domestic battery in Indiana refer directly to the criminal offense of battery, as described in the section above.
Per Indiana Code 35-42-2-1.3, domestic battery occurs when a person knowingly or intentionally touches a family or household member in a rude, insolent, or angry manner. It may also occur when a person places any bodily fluid or waste on a family or household member in a ruse, insolent, or angry manner. In general, this offense is considered to be a Class A misdemeanor in Indiana.
Can Domestic Battery Be a Felony in Indiana?
Yes, under a variety of circumstances, domestic battery can be a felony in Indiana. For instance, if a person has a prior, unrelated conviction for domestic battery or strangulation, they could be charged with a Level 6 felony. In addition, a person could be charged with Level 6 felony domestic battery in Indiana, if the offense was committed in the presence of a child less than 16 years old or was committed against a family or household member who is 14 years old or younger. Other circumstances that could lead to a Level 6 felony charge include:
- The offense resulted in moderate bodily injury to a family or household member
- The offense was committed against a family or household member of any age who has a mental or physical disability and is committed by a person having the care of the family or household member with the mental or physical disability, whether the care is assumed voluntarily or because of a legal obligation
- The offense was committed against a family or household member who is an endangered adult
- The offense was committed against a family or household member:
- who has been issued a protection order that protects the family or household member from the person and the protection order was in effect at the time the person committed the offense; OR
- while a no contact order issued by the court directing the person to refrain from having any direct or indirect contact with the family or household member was in effect at the time the person committed the offense
In Indiana, a person could also be charged with Level 5 felony domestic battery in Indiana if the offense resulted in serious bodily injury to a family or household member or if the offense was committed with a deadly weapon. A person may also be charged with a Level 5 felony for domestic battery under the following circumstances:
- The offense resulted in bodily injury to a pregnant family or household member if the person knew of the pregnancy
- The person has a previous conviction for a battery offense or strangulation against the same family or household member
- The offender was 18 years of age or older and the offense resulted in bodily injury to family or household member who is less than fourteen (14) years of age
- The offense resulted in bodily injury to a family or household member who has a mental or physical disability if the offense is committed by an individual having care of the family or household member with the disability, regardless of whether the care is assumed voluntarily or because of a legal obligation
- The offense resulted in bodily injury to a family or household member who is an endangered adult
In addition, one may be charged with domestic battery in Indiana as a Level 4 felony if the action resulted in serious bodily injury to family or household member who is an endangered adult or a Level 3 felony if the victim is less than 14 years old when the offender was 18 years old or older. Finally, a person may be charged with a Level 2 felony in Indiana for domestic battery if the offense results in the death of a family or household member under the age of 14 and was committed by a person who was 18 years old or older; or the victim was an endangered adult.
Collateral Consequences of Domestic Battery Convictions
It’s important to understand that a conviction for domestic battery in Indiana may result in additional consequences that extend beyond the criminal penalties associated with the felony level of the offense. Like any other individual with a criminal record, someone convicted of domestic battery may find it challenging to find employment, secure much-needed loans, or obtain professional licensure in Indiana. However, on top of that, Indiana Code 35-47-2-1.5, prohibits any person convicted of a “crime of domestic violence” from knowingly or intentionally carrying a handgun, unless that person’s rights have been restored under Indiana Code 35-47-4-7.
While having gun rights restored following a domestic battery conviction is no slam dunk, the Indiana expungement and firearms attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP understand the eligibility criteria and required procedures for doing so. Want to learn more about firearm possession and gun rights restoration? Download our Free Indiana Firearms eBook.
Charged with an Act of Battery or Domestic Battery in Indiana?
While the stakes are high, there is no need to resign yourself to maximum penalties under Indiana’s battery laws. Whether you’ve been charged with an act of battery or domestic battery in Indiana, the criminal defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP stand ready to defend you. Our managing partners, Bradley Keffer and Tom Hirschauer III, are both former deputy prosecutors who have successfully prosecuted AND defended cases of this nature. Given this, they have a strong understanding which defense strategies should be pursued in order to secure the best outcome in the case against you. To speak with a defense attorney today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.