Being charged with domestic violence in Florida is a very serious offense and can have severe consequences. Depending on the circumstances, it is a charge that will follow you for life, regardless of whether or not you are convicted. If you are convicted of domestic violence, you could face jail time, fines, court-ordered counseling and anger management classes, and a restraining order preventing you from contact with the victim.
At the Law Office of Robert H. Hanaford, we understand the gravity of domestic violence charges and the potential consequences they carry. We provide experienced and aggressive legal representation to protect your rights and help you avoid the most serious consequences. In this article, we will discuss what you need to know about being charged with domestic violence in Florida.
How Does Domestic Violence Differ from Assault and Battery Charges?
Domestic violence is a type of crime that is specifically defined as an action or threat of action that is intended to cause physical, mental, or emotional harm to an intimate partner or family member. In Florida, this includes any form of violence, such as physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological abuse.
This definition also states that both parties must be residing in the same household, either previously or at the time of the incident. However, there is an exception where the parties share a child, regardless of whether they lived together previously or not.
Other crimes, such as assault or battery, do not include the same requirement of an intimate relationship between the parties. Simple assault may carry lesser penalties than domestic violence.
Can Domestic Battery Charges be Expunged?
Domestic battery charges in Florida are not eligible to be expunged. This is because these charges are considered to be serious offenses, and the state wants to ensure that those charged with domestic violence can be held accountable for their actions.
What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence?
The penalties for domestic violence in Florida can vary depending on the severity of the offense and the particular circumstances. Generally speaking, the penalties for a conviction of domestic violence include up to one year of jail or probation and a $1,000 fine. However, a conviction will also lead to other mandatory penalties, such as:
A 6-Month Batterers Intervention Program (BIP)
During this program, the offender will be required to undergo an assessment of the crime, orientation into the program, and a minimum of 26 weeks of group counseling sessions. The program is designed to help the offender learn to identify the root causes and change the behaviors that led to domestic violence.
In addition to jail, probation, and BIP, the offender may also be required to perform community service. This could include anything from volunteering at a local charity to working at a local homeless shelter. The judge will decide the additional number of hours allotted to the offender in order to fulfill the community service requirement.
Loss of Certain Individual Liberties
Those facing domestic violence charges will not be allowed to own a firearm while the case is under consideration. If an offender has been convicted of domestic violence, they will be barred from purchasing, owning, or carrying firearms for a period of three years.
No-Contact or Restraining Orders
In many cases, the court may issue a restraining order or no-contact order to protect the victim from any further contact with the offender. This means that the offender must stay away from the victim, their home, and their workplace. If the offender violates the order, they may be arrested and face additional criminal charges.
Possible Defenses Against Domestic Violence or Battery Charges in Florida
Defending against a first-offense charge offers many legal strategies. However, after two or more offenses, the court may impose harsher penalties. The most common defense strategies against domestic battery include:
Disputing the Facts of the Case
Your attorney will work to find evidence that disputes the facts of the case such as a lack of visible marks. This could include physical evidence, testimony from witnesses, or a lack of evidence. The goal is to create reasonable doubt that the claim of domestic battery is true.
Defense of Property, Others, or Stand Your Ground
In some cases, the defendant may be able to argue that the actions were committed in defense of property or in accordance with the state’s “stand your ground” laws. To use this defense, the defendant must prove that they had a reasonable belief that someone was trying to harm their property or person.
Mutual Consent to Combat
While this is a comparatively risky strategy, if the defendant cannot prove they were not the primary aggressor or that both parties consented to the fight, this could be a potential defense. Proving this in court can be difficult, however, as it requires your lawyer to prove that both parties had equal levels of aggression.
Fighting Domestic Violence or Domestic Battery Charges? Contact the Law Office of Robert H. Hanaford Today
Domestic violence and domestic battery are serious criminal offenses that can carry severe consequences. The lawyers at the Law Office of Robert H. Hanaford work hard to protect our clients’ rights and ensure that they receive fair treatment throughout the legal process. We will go to court on your behalf and work tirelessly to build a compelling defense.
If you are facing domestic violence or domestic battery charges, it’s important to seek legal representation from an experienced lawyer. With experienced legal counsel, you can protect yourself and your rights, and get the best possible outcome in your case. Contact us online or call us at (239) 315-9750 to schedule a consultation and discuss your legal options.