Felony battery in the American justice system is the illegal touching of another person that results in a physical injury. Since a felony is the most severe classification of crimes, felony-level battery often involves extreme physical force that may result in some type of permanent injury. This type of touching with the intent to cause grave physical harm may also be known as aggravated battery. In many areas, this crime may be punishable by a minimum of one year in a prison or penitentiary, depending on the severity of the crime.
For a crime to qualify as felony battery, the act must typically have been committed with the intent to do serious harm or restrain, such as in the case of rape or murder. The touching must usually be done in a painful, harmful, offensive or violent manner without the consent of the victim. When the act is done with a dangerous weapon, such as a gun or a knife, the crime may be considered felony battery. When an individual who has previously been convicted of battery commits the crime again, or if significant physical harm is inflicted upon a child or elderly person, felony battery charges may result.
Battery is sometimes confused with assault. Assault involves the threat of physical harm, but unless an individual actually touches another with the intent to do harm, the act may not constitute battery. Assault is sometimes combined with battery, especially in cases of assault with the intent to kill. A battery is frequently preceded by an assault, giving rise to the common phrase, "assault and battery."
Punishment regarding violent crimes such as felony battery is commonly quite strict. Even if it is a first offense, there may be jail time or a significant probation period enforced. Simple battery, which is a lesser offense, is usually classified as a misdemeanor. It commonly becomes felony battery with the addition of a weapon. The use of the weapon may have been real or only threatened. Most sexual crimes include elements of battery, since they typically involve acts that are performed without the consent of the victim.
A convicted felon commonly receives somewhat harsher penalties than someone found guilty of a misdemeanor and may have some of his freedoms taken away. Individuals who are repeat offenders might receive more severe treatment. In some areas, those receiving felony convictions for battery may not be allowed to vote, hold public office or serve on jury panels.