In Florida, Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer occurs where a person intentionally and knowingly touches or strikes an officer without consent while the officer is engaged in the lawful performance of his or her duties.

Required Proof

Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer requires proof of four factual elements:

  1. The defendant intentionally touched, struck, struck, or harmed the listed victim;
  2. The listed victim was a law enforcement officer;
  3. The defendant knew the victim was a law enforcement officer;
  4. The officer was engaged in the lawful performance of his or her duties.

Meaning of ‘Law Enforcement Officer’

Under Section 784.07, the term ‘Law enforcement officer’ can include any of the following:

  • Ordinary police;
  • Correctional officers;
  • Law enforcement explorers;
  • Traffic enforcement officers;
  • Parking enforcement officers;
  • Part-time police and correctional officers;
  • Auxillary law enforcement;
  • Auxillary correctional officers;
  • Probation officers;
  • Employees of the Department of Corrections who supervise or provide services to inmates;
  • Federal law enforcement officers;
  • Officers of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Other Protected Officials

The special protections extended to police officers under Section 784.07 are applied to numerous other categories of public officials and public servants. Some of the most common categories include:

  • Firefighters;
  • Emergency Medical Care Providers;
  • Public Transit Employees (i.e. bus drivers, train operators, revenue collectors, maintenance personnel, and supervisors connected with transit authorities);
  • Community College Security personnel.


Battery on a Police Officer is classified as a third degree felony, with penalties of up to 5 years in prison or 5 years of probation and a $5,000 fine.

Where a defendant’s conduct constitutes Aggravated Battery, the offense is upgraded to a first degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Any person convicted of aggravated battery on a police officer is subject to a minimum mandatory prison sentence of 5 years.  See Section 784.07(2)(d), Florida Statutes.


There are numerous defenses available to contest a charge of Battery on a Police Officer, including:


As discussed below, self-defense is applicable to the charge of Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer so long as the incident does not involve an arrest scenario.  For additional information, visit our web page on Self-Defense in Florida.

Officer Not engaged in Lawful Duty

To support a conviction for battery on a law enforcement officer, the State must prove that, at the time of offense, the officer was lawfully executing a legal duty. Thus, if an officer conducts an unlawful detention or frisk, a conviction for battery on a law enforcement officer cannot be sustained.

However, this defense applies only in situations where the officer is not conducting an arrest.  Meeks v. State, 369 So. 2d 109, 110 (Fla. 1st DCA 1979). Under Section 776.051(1) “a person is not justified in the use of force to resist an arrest by a law enforcement officer who is known, or reasonably appears, to be a law enforcement officer.”

Thus, even if the arrest is illegal, the use of force by a defendant is not justified, unless such force is used to repel excessive force used by the officer.

Private Sector Employment

Battery on a law enforcement officer can occur where the officer is employed in an off-duty capacity by a private sector employer.  The issue is whether the accused knew her or she was an officer and whether the officer was acting pursuant to a lawful duty. J.A.S.R. v. State, 967 So.2d 1050 (Fla. 5th DCA 2007).

Thus, if an officer is intervening to stop a fight between two combatants, this constitutes lawful execution of a duty and the offense can be committed. S.D. v. State, 11 So. 3d 401 (Fla. 3d DCA 2009).

By contrast, an officer is not engaged in such duty (and the offense cannot be committed) where he or she is merely escorting an unruly customer (who had not committed any crime), from an amusement park. J.A.S.R. v. State, 11 So. 3d at 1051.

Incidental Touching

Unintended actions or bodily movements not calculated to make contact with the officer do not meet the basic elements of Battery on a Police Officer.  Common scenarios where this issue may arise include:

  • Where the defendant’s movements are intended to prevent harm from being slammed to the ground or placed against a patrol car;
  • Where the movements are intended to repel an attack by a third party;
  • Where the defendant makes incidental movements of the body not intended to make contact with any person.

Reflexive actions

Involuntary actions taken as a reflexive response to pain inflicted by an arrest do not satisfy the intent required for commission of an offense.

Excessive Force

Although an arrest, whether lawful or unlawful, may never be resisted with violence, any excessive force used by the officer may be forcefully defended against in accordance with conventional principles of self-defense. Jackson v. State, 463 So. 2d 372, 374 (Fla. 5th DCA 1985).  This is true even in lawful arrest scenarios.  Id.

Lack of Knowledge

The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the alleged victim was a law enforcement officer.  Street v. State, 383 So. 2d 900 (Fla. 1980).

Contact an Attorney

If you have been arrested for Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer in Jacksonville or the surrounding counties of Northeast Florida, contact Hussein & Webber, PL for a free consultation.