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Twigg v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

August 1, 2018

WILL TWIGG, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County; Glenn D. Kelley, Judge; L.T. Case No. 50-2014-CF-010319-AXXX-MB.

          David F. Pleasanton of David F. Pleasanton, P.A., West Palm Beach, for appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Matthew Steven Ocksrider, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.

          DAMOORGIAN, J.

         Appellant, Will Twigg, appeals his conviction and sentence for one count of battery on an emergency medical care provider and one count of battery following an altercation between Appellant and staff members at a Veteran's Administration hospital ("VA"). On appeal, Appellant argues that: 1) the State failed to prove that he committed the offense of battery on an emergency medical care provider; and 2) Appellant's trial counsel was ineffective on the face of the record for failing to request a self-defense jury instruction and failing to move for a judgment of acquittal on the battery on an emergency medical care provider charge. We agree with Appellant's arguments pertaining to the battery on an emergency medical care provider count and reverse that conviction. We affirm otherwise.

         Background

         Appellant was involuntarily brought to the emergency department of the VA pursuant to Florida's Baker Act[1] after his employer reported that Appellant was exhibiting erratic behavior. Appellant was subsequently admitted to the VA's inpatient psychiatric unit where, after learning that he was not being released, Appellant became combative and spit on a nurse and a VA law enforcement officer. Based on the foregoing, the State charged Appellant with one count of battery on an emergency medical care provider for spitting on the nurse, one count of battery for spitting on the VA officer, and one count of resisting an officer without violence. Appellant pled not guilty and filed a notice of intent to rely upon insanity as a defense.

         The matter proceeded to a jury trial where the State presented evidence that the nurse victim was a Licensed Practical Nurse ("LPN") who, on the day in question, was working in the VA's inpatient psychiatric unit. The State's evidence also established that the psychiatric unit was a secure lockdown unit which was separate and distinct from the VA's other departments, including the emergency department. At the conclusion of the State's case, Appellant's counsel declined to move for a judgment of acquittal ("JOA") on any of the charges. Instead, counsel focused on an insanity defense, presenting evidence from a psychiatrist who opined that Appellant was not able to determine whether what he did was right or wrong when he spit on the nurse and VA officer.

         Considering the evidence, the jury rejected Appellant's insanity affirmative defense and found him guilty of battery on an emergency medical care provider, guilty of battery, and not-guilty of resisting an officer without violence. The court adjudicated Appellant per the jury's verdict and sentenced Appellant to time served followed by eighteen months of probation.

         Analysis

          a) Sufficiency of the Evidence Proving Battery on an Emergency Medical Care Provider

         Appellant contends that the State's evidence regarding the nurse victim was insufficient to support a conviction for battery on an emergency medical care provider. Appellant is correct.

         Section 784.03 of the Florida Statutes provides that the offense of battery is a third degree misdemeanor and "occurs when a person: 1. [a]ctually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or 2. [i]ntentionally causes bodily harm to another person." § 784.03(1)(a)-(b), Fla. Stat. (2015). When a battery is committed on certain persons, including "an emergency medical care provider . . . while the . . . emergency medical care provider . . . is engaged in the lawful performance of his or her duties," section 784.07 of the Florida Statutes reclassifies the offense "of battery, from a misdemeanor of the first degree to a felony of the third degree." § 784.07(2), (2)(b), Fla. Stat. (2015).

         Based on the foregoing, the elements of the offense of battery on an emergency medical care provider are: (1) the defendant intentionally touched or struck the victim or intentionally caused bodily harm to the victim; (2) the victim was an emergency medical care provider; (3) the defendant knew that the victim was an emergency medical care provider; and (4) the emergency medical care provider was engaged in the lawful performance of his or her duties when the battery was committed. Fla. Std. Jury Instr. (Crim.) 8.11; State v. Granner, 661 So.2d 89, 90 (Fla. 5th DCA 1995). Therefore, in order to prove that Appellant committed the offense of battery on an ...


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