Domestic violence consists of a pattern of controlling behaviors. These are behaviors a person uses to hold power over their intimate partner, so they are able to control their partner’s activities and actions. This form of violence is not an argument, disagreement, or marital fight; it is hurtful, disrespectful behavior one partner chooses to inflict against another partner.
Acts of Domestic Violence
The pattern of behaviors behind domestic violence includes threats and acts of violence inflicted upon a partner to control them. These are some of the actions taken out on a partner which are considered domestic violence:
- Hurting emotionally through name-calling
- Isolating one from their family and friends
- Physically hurting one by hair pulling, kicking, hitting, slapping, shaking, squeezing, burning, arm twisting, or any other intentional form of inflicting injury
- Turning one’s children against them
- Controlling money
- Actions of extreme possessiveness or jealousy
- Harming one’s pets
- Threatening to kill their partner or themselves
- Minimizing their destructive behaviors
- Demanding unwanted sexual activities
- Withholding medical needs
- Preventing the use of necessary assistive devices
- Controlling one with a particular ‘look’ or gesture
Under Florida Law definition of domestic violence is found under 741.28 through 741.31 and states this form of violence includes aggravated assault, assault, aggravated battery, battery, sexual battery, sexual assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment, aggravated stalking, or any criminal action that results in the death or physical injury of one family member by another family member.
Family members are defined as spouses, ex-spouses, or any person related by blood relations or marriage. These persons must be residing in the same household or have in the past shared the same home, or have a child in common regardless of whether or not they were married.
Most common domestic violence charges include:
Florida Statute (F.S.) 784.011- Assault as Second-Degree Misdemeanor
An assault that is intentional, or an unlawful threat verbally or through an act of violence to another person. Performing an act which creates a reasonable fear in another person that violence is imminent. Anyone guilty of such action is charged with a misdemeanor of the second degree and punishable as provided under 775.028 or 775.083.
Florida Statute (F.S.) 784.021 Aggravated Assault, Third-Degree Felony
Aggravated assault is an illegal act committed with a deadly weapon, but without the intent to kill, or intention to commit a felony. Anyone convicted of aggravated assault is guilty of a felony of the third degree and punishable as provided under 775.082 or 775.083, or 775.084.
Florida Statute (F.S.) 784.03 Battery, First-Degree Misdemeanor
Battery or felony battery occurs when a person intentionally strikes another or intentionally causes bodily harm to another. If the person committing battery has no prior convictions, they will be punished as provided under 775.082 or 775.083. If the person convicted of battery has a previous conviction for battery or aggravated battery, they will be punished as provided under 775.082, 775.083, or 775.084.
Florida Statute (F.S.) 784.045 Aggravated Battery, Second-Degree Felony
Aggravated battery happens when a person intentionally causes bodily harm, permanently disables, or permanently disfigures another, or uses a deadly weapon. If the person commits aggravated battery to a person who is pregnant at the time of the offense, and the offender knew of the pregnancy shall be guilty of a felony of the second-degree. They will be punished as provided under 775.082, 775.083, or 775.084.
Florida Statute (F.S.) 784.041 Felony Battery, Third-Degree Felony
Felony battery occurs when a person intentionally strikes another and causes bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. Felony battery also occurs if a person intentionally impedes the normal breathing or circulation of blood in another family member, member of the household, or someone they are dating. Any pressure on the throat, neck, mouth, or nose of the person, which results in the blockage of air to this person is considered a felony battery in the third-degree. This crime is punishable as provided under 775.082, 775.083, or 775.084.
Florida Statute (F.S.) 784.042(2)(a) Domestic Battery by Strangulation, Third-Degree Felony
A person is found guilty of domestic battery by strangulation if they intentionally touch or strike another against their will and cause serious bodily harm. Also, this person commits domestic battery by strangulation if they intentionally impede another’s ability to breathe normally, or they stop their circulation of blood. This action is taken upon a family member, member of the household, or a person they are dating and is considered a domestic battery by strangulation as a third-degree felony. They can be punished as provided under 775.082,775.083, or 775.084.
Florida Statute (F.S.) 784.048 Stalking the First-Degree Misdemeanor
Stalking is defined under this statute as a person who engages in the course of conduct directed at a specific person and causes them extreme emotional distress. During the course of conduct, the aggressor has used a pattern of conduct that is comprised of a series of acts over a set period of time. This statue also covers delivering credible threats, either verbally or nonverbally as well as ‘cyber-stalking’ which engages communications through electronic means. There is a wide range of penalties possible under this statute. For more information on potential consequences, talk to your attorney at Arnold Law.
Florida Statute (F.S.) 784.048(3) Aggravated stalking Third-Degree Felony
Aggravated stalking is considered when a person harasses another or engages in the course of action directed at a specific person, which causes this person extreme emotional distress. The course of conduct is a pattern comprised of acts performed over a period of time and poses as a credible threat. This statue covers ‘cyberstalking’ as well, that is harassment or stalking of another through electronic communications. There are a large number of possible punishments for a conviction of aggravated stalking as a third-degree felony. Talk with your lawyer at Arnold Law to learn more about these potential consequences.
Domestic violence has taken a turn in the public’s opinion over the last few decades. It is no longer an issue viewed as a private matter and one that couples are expected to tend to behind their closed doors. It has become a widespread problem in society, and by law enforcement perspective, it is one of the most volatile calls they respond to.
For those accused of domestic violence, it can be a life-altering charge and one that is extremely unfair if being blamed without evidence. A conviction is not always inevitable. If you contact Arnold Law, you can evade some of the more severe consequences. An experienced defense lawyer given the opportunity for early intervention can help you navigate through these complex areas of the law.
Penalties for Domestic Violence
If found guilty of domestic violence, you would serve a minimum of one year on probation. While on probation, you would be required to attend a batterer’s intervention program unless the court finds this program to be inappropriate.
If convicted of a domestic violence offense that includes the intentional act of bodily harm to another, you would have a minimum sentence of five days in jail or a non-suspended period of sentencing in state prison.
Domestic violence is a subject in Florida that has become politically charged. These charges are prosecuted aggressively and most often by specially trained prosecutors. These cases are often the result of spiteful partners seeking vengeance for a wrong they feel they’ve suffered. Even if this is the case in your charges, do not attempt to resolve without legal counsel.
If you find yourself without legal representation, you could face:
- Permanent criminal record showing you as an aggressor of domestic violence
- Mandatory jail sentences even though there were no injuries inflicted
- Possible deportation for immigration purposes
- Unable to have criminal records expunged or sealed
- Compulsory counseling of violent behaviors
Without the proper legal guidance, these penalties could be assigned to your case even if a vindictive partner has filed the charges. You need reliable legal counsel on your side to fight these charges and protect your record and future.
Florida defines the crime of domestic violence as a first-degree misdemeanor, and it is punishable with one year in jail or one year on probation with a fine up to $1,000. The judge will have to enforce the minimum one-year probation sentence but has the option of adding a statutory maximum of one year in jail. The decision of sentencing will depend on the specifics of your case and the reliability of your defense attorney.
Collateral Consequences to a Domestic Violence Conviction
Under Florida law, you may also suffer collateral consequences in addition to statutory penalties if convicted of domestic violence. A domestic violence conviction can result in:
- A minimum mandatory five-day jail sentence if an injury was caused, plus
- A court-mandated requirement for the completion of a 29-week Batterers Intervention Program, along with
- Never being able to seal or expunge the conviction for your criminal record
- You will have to forfeit your right to have a firearm while you are on probation, and
- There would be a revocation of your permit to carry a concealed weapon
Protection Against Domestic Violence
If someone is in fear of domestic violence, or they feel they have reasonable cause to believe they are about to become a victim of this crime, they can file a petition for protection. A petition for protection is a court order instructing the abuser of specific court-ordered restraining scenarios.
The court ordered restraining order can be used to end a public nuisance, an effort to control the conduct of parties involved in a civil lawsuit or to protect domestic violence victims from further acts of violence. When these orders of protection are issued in a case involving domestic violence, they are referred to as orders of protection. When these orders are issued in a civil dispute, they are referred to as injunctions.
Temporary Orders of Protection
The temporary order of protection is to provide temporary, but fast help to one afraid of domestic violence. If the judge feels there is a present and immediate danger of domestic violence, they can issue a temporary order of protection. This protection is granted even if the accused has not taken part in the hearing.
If the respondent, party from whom the petitioner is seeking protection from, is present at the hearing, they can challenge the protection order. The judge listens to both sides and makes a decision regarding the need for an order of protection and whether or not it will be put in place.
If an order of protection is put into place, it will provide:
- Restraint against the abuser from committing any further acts of domestic violence
- Excludes the abuser from entering the shared dwelling of the parties and any use of possessions the two shared
- Provides support for any minor children involved until either the order expires or a civil decree has been rendered affecting the child’s support
- Requires the abuser to participate in intervention, treatment or counseling services
- Provides any other assistance the court deems necessary for the victim
Violation of Protection Orders for Domestic Violence
Protection orders are court-mandated rules you are legally required to follow. It is considered a misdemeanor in the first degree under the law if the regulations under the protection order are not followed:
- Refusal to leave the dwelling shared with the victim
- Getting within five hundred feet of the victim’s home, place of employment, school, or any other regularly frequented place by the victim or any other member of the household
- Commit another act of domestic violence against the victim
- Commit any other form of violation of a protection order against the victim by intentionally threatening verbally or through an action
- Making any form of contacts such as through phone or other means of communication either directly or indirectly to the victim, even through a third party
- Getting within one hundred feet of the victim’s vehicle, regardless of where it is parked
- Causing damage to the victim's personal property such as defacing or destroying it
- Refusal of the court-ordered surrender of ammunition and firearms
In addition to these violations of protection, if you have a protection order against you and you willfully, knowingly, maliciously, or repeatedly follow a victim through cyberstalking, you would be found guilty of aggravated stalking. This charge would be a felony in the third degree. and is punishable for up to five years in prison along with a $5,000 fine.
What are Law Enforcement Responsibilities for Domestic Violence
Under Florida law, law enforcement officials are required to investigate allegations of domestic violence. They are required to help victims needing necessary medical treatment. Law officials are also required to inform the victim about services available to them through a domestic violence center.
A victim of domestic violence should be presented with a copy of their legal rights and remedies notice. The officer must also complete a written report to document any physical injuries they have observed and then file the report with a law enforcement agency. A copy of this documentation must also be given to their supervisor. If there is no arrest for the complaint, the officer must give complete details as to why they felt there were no grounds for an arrest.
The officer must determine which of the parties is the aggressor. There are situations where multiple persons will claim to be a victim of domestic violence. Under Florida’s statutory law, the officer can only arrest the primary aggressor. They cannot arrest a party who acts in a reasonable manner of self-defense of themselves or another member of the family or household.
Florida Defense Strategies Against Domestic Violence Charge
Domestic violence is a defensible charge in Florida. If you find yourself charged with domestic violence, do not plead guilty without speaking to Arnold Law and discovering your legal options for this charge. Numerous reasons can apply for having your charges of domestic violence dismissed, including:
- Disputing the protection order based on evidence and facts
- There were no physical or emotional injuries involved
- There is no evidence to support Domestic Violence
- The victim has filed the complaint to be vindictive
- You were using self-defense actions
- You were defending another member of the family or household
- You were protecting your property
- You were taking a stand against another’s act of violence
- The combat or confrontation was mutual
It is critical to your defense to contact an attorney as soon as possible when facing charges of domestic violence. With an early defense, you could get the charges dropped, reduced, diverted, or amended when you involve a skilled defense attorney right away. When the prosecution sees you have hired an experienced attorney to defend yourself, it tells them you are willing to fight the case, and it may dissuade them from making unacceptable offers.
When your Arnold Law representative presents factual defenses, mitigating circumstances, and legal issues, it will have a significant impact on whether or not the State decides to move forward with a charge of domestic violence. Having an experienced and competent lawyer by your side communicates resolve and creates a rapport with the prosecution that may be necessary for any negotiations.
Some defense strategies are difficult in domestic violence charges as there are deeper or underlying issues that have caused the altercations. Some of these issues could involve:
- Substance abuse, or drug and alcohol abuse
- A family member who has become spiteful
- Child custody issues
- A pending divorce
- Protection order proceedings
- Mental health issues
It can be beneficial to find an approach that will lead to the dismissal of the charges. It is also good to develop a plan that could result in harmony between the two parties. Counseling is an excellent way to address underlying issues and help both parties establish positive habits to avoid future domestic violence incidents.
How are Florida Domestic Violence Cases Prosecuted?
In the State of Florida, the State Attorney’s Office makes the decision on whether or not to process a domestic violence case. The victim’s accounts are taken into consideration, but the State Attorney handles the final decision on whether or not to proceed.
If a victim decides they no longer wish to proceed with the case and are not going to file charges against the alleged aggressor, they should modify the No Contact Orders or Protection Orders. To change or cancel these, you would need to file a Motion to Modify Conditions of Release.
When a petition to Modify Conditions of a No Contact Order is issued, the parties can resume regular contacts. This motion to modify would also lead to having the domestic violence charges dropped. The prosecution will see by this filing that the alleged victim is likely to be uncooperative and against prosecution.
Domestic Violence Pretrial Motions
When a domestic violence charge in Florida cannot be dropped in the early stages of the case, there is an outlet to provide the court with a pretrial motion. This motion can be an outlet for the courts to reduce or drop charges of a case that has begun the legal process. Successful pretrial motions that have been used in the Florida courts include:
- Stand Your Ground Motion will allow the defendant the opportunity of prosecutorial immunity
- Motions in Limine or Motion for Court Ruling show the prosecution evidence and fact issues that are involved in the case. It could lead the prosecution to reevaluate their case and possibly dismiss the charges
If these tactics do not work on your case, and the prosecution is ready to proceed with the charges against you, it will most likely lead to a trial. You and your defense attorney from Arnold Law will need to be ready and fully prepared for the duration of the case. In some cases, the strategy of showing the prosecution how well-organized and ultimately committed you and your attorney are to see this case through, leads them to reduce or drop charges.
Is There Help Near Me for Domestic Violence Charges?
A domestic violence conviction will have a profound impact on your future. You need experienced legal representation to help you fight these charges and keep your future on track. Arnold Law knows their way around the courts and understands the laws to provide you with the best possible defense. Call today 904-264-3627 and put your future in hands you can trust.