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Wisconsin battery charges range from misdemeanors to felonies. One version of felony battery in Wisconsin is called substantial battery. It’s important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side when facing criminal charges, especially a felony. If you need substantial battery defense, contact Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys Matthew R. Meyer and Benjamin T. Van Severen. We have defended thousands of individuals facing criminal charges. A large number of those have included all variants of battery.
Substantial battery had two versions prior to February 1, 2003: “with intent to cause bodily harm” and “with intent to cause substantial bodily harm.” Currently, in order to be charged with substantial battery, a defendant only needs to intend to cause bodily harm. What’s the difference? “With intent to cause substantial harm” is more difficult to prove. The government was required to show that the defendant actually intended to cause the higher level of harm. Moreover, now all that needs to be shown is the defendant intended to cause some bodily harm.
What is substantial battery?
Section 940.19(2) of the Wisconsin Statutes provides the current definition of substantial battery. The defendant commits the crime when he causes substantial bodily harm to another by an act done with intent to cause bodily harm.
“Substantial bodily harm” means an injury to the body that includes a laceration that requires stitches/staples/a tissue adhesive, any fracture of a bone, a broken nose, a burn, a temporary loss of consciousness/sight/hearing, a concussion, or a loss or fracture of a tooth.
“Bodily harm” (referring to “with intent to cause bodily harm”) means physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of the victim’s physical condition.
Substantial battery is punishable by a Class I felony, carrying with it a potential penalty of 3 years and 6 months in prison, a $10,000.00 fine, or both. Obviously this is a serious criminal penalty.
What is an example of this offense?
Matt walks up to Ben and punches him. As a consequence of this punch, Ben suffers a broken nose. Obviously Matt intended to cause pain to Ben when he punched him.
The reason this case is not misdemeanor battery, but instead substantial battery, is because of the broken nose. Felony battery requires that the defendant caused substantial bodily harm to the victim. The definition of the crime is “a laceration that requires stitches, samples, or a tissue adhesive; any fracture of any bone; a broken nose; a burn; a petechia; a temporary loss of consciousness, sight, or hearing; a concussion; or a loss or fracture of a tooth.” Wis. Stat. sec. 939.22(38)
What are the elements of substantial battery?
The elements of this violent crime are provided in Wisconsin JI-Criminal 1222. Accordingly, those jury instructions indicate the elements of the crime that the State must prove:
- The defendant caused substantial bodily harm to the victim;
- The defendant intended to cause bodily harm to the victim.
“Cause” means that the defendant’s act was a substantial factor in producing the result. “Intent to cause bodily harm” means that the defendant had the mental purpose to cause bodily harm to another human being, or was aware that his conduct was practically certain to cause bodily harm to another human being.