Jacksonville professional football player, Dante Fowler, was arrested last week in St. Petersburg, Florida. According an article in the Florida Times Union, Fowler faces a charge of simple battery and criminal mischief. He and the alleged victim engaged in an argument about Fowler’s driving. Fowler then, according to a witness at the scene, began punching the alleged victim. While the physical altercation was going on, Fowler allegedly stomped on the other man’s glasses, causing around two hundred dollars in damage. When police arrived, Fowler was arrested and the man claimed that he did not have any injuries, despite being punched repeatedly.
Even though this arrest did not occur in Jacksonville, the laws are the same throughout the state of Florida. Simple battery occurs when you intentionally touch someone against their will or intentionally cause physical harm to someone. As long as the physical harm is not serious, the battery charge will remain a misdemeanor. Felony battery can be charged in Jacksonville if the defendant causes “great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement”. A battery charge can also become a felony if the victim is pregnant and the offender knew or should have known she was pregnant. As with any criminal case, prosecutors have the discretion to file a case or not. In the case above, it is interesting that the alleged victim reportedly was punched, more than once, by Fowler, but did not sustain any injury.
The other is called criminal mischief. A criminal mischief is committed in Florida when a person willfully and maliciously injures or damages the property of another person. If the damage is two hundred dollars are less, as in Fowler’s case, the charge is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to sixty days in jail. If the damage was over two hundred and less than one thousand, the charge would be elevated to a first degree misdemeanor. If the damage is valued at one thousand dollars or over, it becomes a felony in Florida.