Last month the Jacksonville Beach Municipal Golf Course turned into a battle field as two golf parties laid into each other. A group of young men were celebrating a bachelor party with a day at the links. Meanwhile a group of elderly men and women were playing behind them, trying to have a serious game. Allegedly the youngsters had been drinking and according to a 61 year-old man now charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in Jacksonville, they were messing around, playing very slowly, and driving golf carts on the greens, which upset him. By the time the bachelor party got to the 18th green, the man had had enough. He began shouting at the group and hitting balls toward them and after one was returned in his direction, hopped in a cart and headed for the group. Allegedly he drove the cart full speed into the bachelor group, ran over one person and pinned another between two carts. Then he allegedly grabbed a club and broke it over the head of the man he ran over, and then grab another club. At this point the others in the elderly party all were brandishing golf clubs. The young men then grabbed for the clubs and pinned down the old man, tumbling together into a sand trap right before police arrived on the scene.
In Florida, battery occurs when a person actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other, or when a person intentionally causes bodily harm to another person. Simple battery is a first degree misdemeanor in Duval County. However, when a person uses a deadly weapon in commission of the battery, or causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement, the offense becomes aggravated battery. Aggravated battery is a second degree felony in Florida. In the case of the brawling golfers, a golf cart and golf clubs most definitely fall into the category of deadly weapons. The old man sent one person to the hospital with head and leg injuries, which could also constitute great bodily harm, depending on how the prosecution frames the charges.
From a Jacksonville criminal defense standpoint, several mitigating factors may come into play. Were the party goers intoxicated, and does this affect their judgment, recollection, and credibility? The man was a veteran of the golf course and may have a prior rapport with the course staff to testify to his sportsmanship and history with the course. Also, while the older man hit his ball down the course towards the bachelor party, this is normal in golf play. You play forward towards the green. The bachelor party hitting his ball back, however, is not part of the game and can be seen as a sign of aggression. While there are other witnesses to testify to the events, and the man certainly escalated the situation, he may not be completely at fault. In the end, it's probably a better idea to simply notify the course ranger when a party is acting inappropriately on the golf course. However, if the situation does turn violent, always remember that when you pick something up to use as an instrumentality of violence, for example a golf club, chances are you're holding a deadly weapon, at least as far as police are concerned. Now if convicted of battery in Jacksonville, the sentence goes from possible probation to serious jail time.
If you or a loved one is ever charged with any type of battery, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County Battery Crimes Lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.