As LSU football fans already know, on August 19 there was a fight outside of a Baton Rouge, Louisiana bar which resulted in four people going to the hospital for treatment. LSU football players were allegedly involved and two players have been charged with second degree battery. Some LSU fans may be wondering what exactly “second degree” battery means and how the charges differ from “simple” battery.
There is a big difference between simple and second degree battery. Simple battery is a misdemeanor and second degree battery is a felony, and the severity of punishment for second degree is much greater than for simple battery.
Simple battery is when there is non-consensual physical contact but no serious injuries – no broken bones, no blood is spilled, no medical bills or hospitalization. Examples of simple battery would be when a woman slaps a man at a bar or two guys are arguing at a pool table and one guy shoves the other. A conviction for simple battery carries a penalty of at most six months in parish jail, a $500 fine and some probation. If it’s a first offense, you will probably not spend any time in jail and will receive either supervised or unsupervised probation, depending on the skill of your criminal defense attorney. There may also be a fine of under $500 or probationary conditions such as not having contact with the victim and anger management classes.
Drop Charge Affidavit
Cases involving simple battery are usually resolved quickly. Sometimes the victim will request that the district attorney drop the charges – which is called a Drop Charge Affidavit. The district attorney may or may not honor the request, but it never hurts the defendant if the victim is willing to send a letter asking for the charges to be dropped.
Second Degree Battery
Second degree battery is simple battery with serious injuries, such as a broken bone, a serious cut or other injury that requires medical attention. For the bar fight example, if after the initial shove (simple battery), the aggressor then swings his fist into the victim’s face and breaks his nose, causing the victim to go to the hospital and pay $3,200 in medical bills, the charge will become second degree battery. The penalties for second degree battery are more serious and the chances of having a charge dropped with a drop charge affidavit are minimal. Second-degree battery carries a sentence of up to five years in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.
As for the incident involving the LSU players, my guess is that there initially was shoving that escalated into a fight. Because four people went to the hospital, including one person with three cracked vertebrae, the charge increased from simple battery to second degree battery. It will be interesting to see how the investigation plays out since there are many witnesses, conflicting accounts of what occurred, and the suggestion that the victim started the fight. Remember that self defense is always a possible defense against battery charges.