Florida Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a crime that can affect people of all ages, races, sexes and socioeconomic backgrounds, and most states, Florida included, have taken steps to crack down on domestic violence, penalizing any form of abusive, violent or threatening behavior perpetrated against spouses, intimate partners, family members or household members. If you are facing allegations of domestic violence in Florida, don’t wait to seek help from a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer, even if you haven’t yet been charged with a crime. You will want a skilled defense attorney on your side who is familiar with Florida domestic violence laws and knows what it takes to get a successful outcome in domestic violence cases. The sooner you retain the services of a reputable domestic violence defense attorney, the sooner he or she can get to work defending you against the charges.
Florida Domestic Violence Laws
Florida Statutes § 741.28(2) defines the crime of domestic violence as “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.” Under the law, two people are considered “family or household members” if they fall into any of the following categories:
- Current or former spouses
- People related by blood or marriage
- People who are currently living together or previously lived together as if a family
- People who have a child in common, regardless of whether they have been married
Domestic violence laws in some states have certain things in common, such as the designation of domestic violence as a form of abuse involving spouses or family or household members, but there are other components of domestic violence laws that vary from state to state, such as the specific relationships that qualify people as family or household members. In Florida for example, Fla. Stat. § 741.28(3) dictates that “With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit” for this law to apply.
Penalties for Domestic Violence in Florida
Domestic violence is a serious and pervasive crime in Florida. In 2018 alone, there were 104,914 reported incidents of domestic violence in the state of Florida alone, with 80% resulting from the crime of simple assault. That being said, not all claims of domestic violence are based on fact. It is not uncommon for criminal charges for domestic violence to be brought against innocent individuals as a result of false allegations of abuse. In some such cases, an ex-spouse may be looking for revenge or hoping to gain some leverage in a highly contested divorce or child custody proceeding. Unfortunately, the law often comes down on the side of the alleged victim and you could find yourself facing charges for domestic violence even if you did nothing wrong. And if you are found guilty of domestic violence in Florida, you could face significant criminal penalties and other life-altering consequences.
The penalties associated with a domestic violence conviction in Florida depend on the nature and severity of the underlying crime. For instance, the crime of assault (Fla. Stat. § 784.011) is a second-degree misdemeanor offense, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 60 days, while the crime of domestic battery by strangulation (Fla. Stat. § 784.041) is a third-degree felony offense, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to five years. There is a minimum term of imprisonment for the crime of domestic violence in Florida. Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 741.283, if you are found guilty of domestic violence and you have intentionally caused bodily harm to another person, you may be required to serve a minimum of five days in the county jail as part of the sentence imposed by the court, unless your sentence includes a non-suspended period of incarceration in a state correctional facility. You may also be ordered by the court to a minimum term of one year’s probation and be required to complete a batterers’ intervention program as a condition of your probation.
Injunctions for Protection Against Domestic Violence
The state of Florida gives alleged victims of domestic violence the right to go to court and file a petition requesting an injunction for protection from domestic violence. If this happens and you have been accused of domestic violence, you could be ordered to leave your home, stay away from the petitioner’s school or place of employment, and pay support to the petitioner and your children, if you have any. You could even lose custody of your children. Pursuant to Florida Statutes § 741.31(4)(a), any person who violates an injunction for protection against domestic violence by: refusing to vacate the home that the petitioner and the accused share, committing an act of domestic violence against the petitioner, destroying the petitioner’s personal property, refusing to surrender firearms, or failing to comply with any other terms set forth in the injunction for protection, runs the risk of facing additional criminal charges for a misdemeanor offense.
How a Skilled Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Can Help
The state of Florida has robust protections in place for alleged victims of domestic violence and those accused of committing acts of abuse against an intimate partner or family or household member are punished harshly. When it comes to protecting yourself against domestic violence charges in Florida, you need the help of a criminal defense attorney who specializes in spousal abuse and domestic violence cases. An experienced Florida defense attorney can offer sound legal advice and invaluable guidance as you navigate the criminal justice system and fight for your rights. Not only will a good criminal defense lawyer investigate the charges against you, explain your rights and options under the law, and work towards a successful resolution of your case, if your case proceeds to trial, he or she will work diligently to develop the strongest possible defense based on your specific situation and advocate for your acquittal.