Approximately two weeks ago, I wrote an article about a fight that broke out between patrons and security at the Conch House in St. Augustine. The article was entitled St. Augustine Battery Charges After Conch House Brawl and can be found on the Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers website. The brawl occurred on Reggae Sunday over Memorial Day weekend. While it may not seem unusual for a fight to break out at a crowded place when a lot of people are consuming alcohol, this story was different based on the allegations. Members of the security staff, not intoxicated customers, are accused of committing battery and causing injuries to patrons. News4jax.com reported:
“An investigation into the alleged excessive force used by security guards during a Memorial Day weekend brawl at The Conch House. The fights broke out at the Conch House Marina Resort around 7:30 p.m. May 24 and much of the mayhem was caught on camera, showing Conch House bouncers punching and kicking patrons. The St. Augustine Police Department is investigating the fight and police said that several customers had to go the hospital with serious injuries. Four bouncers were later charged with simple battery, a misdemeanor, against five patrons. The bouncers are not being arrested, and their names have not been released.”
As a Jacksonville Criminal Attorney, there are a couple of things about this article that draw my attention. First, the article states that four of the bouncers were charged with simple battery, but it also states that customers were treated at the hospital for serious injuries. The second point is the portion of the article that states that the bouncers were not arrested for simple battery. I will go through both of these points below.
Simple Battery with Serious Injuries
You often hear the terms assault and battery used interchangeably. They are not the same thing. Read Jacksonville Florida Assault and Battery Laws to learn the difference between assault and battery under Florida law. Florida’s Battery Law is Section 784.03. This law defines simple battery. It states that “the offense of battery occurs when a person: 1. Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or 2. Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.”
This Florida criminal law makes the battery described above a misdemeanor crime. While simple battery is a misdemeanor, aggravated battery is a felony. When does simple battery become aggravated battery? The Florida Aggravated Battery Law is Section 784.045 of the Florida Statutes. This law states, “A person commits aggravated battery who, in committing battery: 1. Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or 2. Uses a deadly weapon.”
Getting back to the St Augustine Conch House incident, the bouncers are facing simple battery charges in St. Johns County. While the article states that people had serious injuries, it does not appear that those injuries rise to the level of aggravated battery, since the bouncers are looking at simple battery charges.
No St. Johns County Arrest
According to the local news article, the four defendants were not arrested, but they are being charged with simple battery. There are no more details. One of the ways that a person may avoid an arrest is through a notice to appear. Florida’s Rules of Criminal Procedure permit a notice to appear to be issued in lieu of an arrest. A notice to appear looks like a Florida Traffic Ticket, but it is much more. If you are issued a notice to appear in St. Augustine, remember that you have been accused of a crime. You should consult with a St. Johns County Lawyer. Do not take your case less seriously just because you were not arrested.
Rule 3.125 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure allows the arresting officer to issue a notice to appear citation if “a person is arrested for an offense declared to be a misdemeanor of the first or second degree or a violation, or is arrested for violation of a municipal or county ordinance triable in the county, and demand to be taken before a judge is not made.” There are exceptions to this rule. The arresting officer may not issue a notice to appear in under the following circumstances:
(1) the accused fails or refuses to sufficiently identify himself or herself or supply the required information;
(2) the accused refuses to sign the notice to appear;
(3) the officer has reason to believe that the continued liberty of the accused constitutes an unreasonable risk of bodily injury to the accused or others;
(4) the accused has no ties with the jurisdiction reasonably sufficient to assure the accused’s appearance or there is substantial risk that the accused will refuse to respond to the notice;
(5) the officer has any suspicion that the accused may be wanted in any jurisdiction; or
(6) it appears that the accused previously has failed to respond to a notice or a summons or has violated the conditions of any pretrial release program.