Arrested for domestic violence or battery?
At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., Miami domestic violence attorneys have gotten over 95% of all their domestic violence cases dismissed without the client ever appearing in court. We understand, and our extensive experience has confirmed, that the domestic violence statutes in Florida are rather one-sided against the accused. Florida law allows police officers to make a domestic violence arrest if any evidence exists, regardless of the credibility of such evidence.
The reality is that police officers often make arrests solely on the alleged victim’s or witness’s statements without there being any actual physical evidence of domestic abuse. The police do not care about your side of the story. Public policy demands that law enforcement take any and all action to prevent even the possibility of future violence, regardless of whether the accused is completely innocent. However, our domestic violence lawyers in Miami do care about your side of the story and will take whatever legal steps necessary to protect your rights and defend your freedom.
What Are Florida’s Domestic Violence Definitions?
The state’s domestic violence definitions can be found in Florida Statutes § 741.28. It provides that a person commits the offense when they engage in criminal conduct against a family or household member that can or does result in physical injury or death. Crimes named explicitly in the statute include assault, battery, stalking, and kidnapping, among others.
A family or household member is defined as:
- Former spouse
- Relative by blood or marriage
- People who currently lived or formerly lived together as a family
- Biological parents of a child (regardless of marital status)
Except for biological parents of the same child, for individuals in any of the relationships listed above, to be considered family or household members under the domestic violence law, they must currently live together or have lived together at some point in the past.
Domestic violence, which is commonly referred to as domestic battery, can occur in various forms. Physical violence, threatened violence, and abuse are considered forms of domestic violence. They are punishable under Florida’s domestic violence laws.
Domestic Violence Acts
Below is a list of acts that can be considered domestic violence:
- Pushing or shoving
- Hair pulling
- Pursuing unwanted sexual activity
Although all criminal law cases are taken seriously, domestic violence cases are treated with special care. In many matters, Domestic Violence Units are ready to aggressively pursue those facing accusations.
Types of Domestic Violence Crimes in Florida
As mentioned earlier, various acts can be considered domestic violence in Florida. Such conduct falls under a range of criminal laws. Thus, the behavior leading to a domestic violence accusation can be charged as a specific crime.
Florida law explicitly lists the following crimes that can be charged as domestic violence:
- Assault: Intentionally threatening to commit violence upon another person.
- Aggravated assault: Committing assault with a deadly weapon or with the intent to commit a felony.
- Battery: Touching or striking a person without their consent or causing bodily harm.
- Aggravated battery: Committing battery and causing great bodily harm or using a deadly weapon.
- Sexual battery: Engaging in sexual intercourse without consent.
- Stalking: Repeatedly following or harassing someone and causing substantial emotional distress.
- Aggravated stalking: Stalking and making a credible threat to someone.
- Kidnapping: Abducting another person and intending to hold them for ransom, commit a felony, cause harm to them, or interfere with government business.
- False imprisonment: Abducting or confining a person against their will.
An accusation of any of the offenses listed above or other crimes that could have resulted or did result in harm to a family or household member should be taken seriously. Reach out to Hager & Schwartz, P.A. to get aggressive defense from our Miami domestic violence lawyers.
Penalties for a Domestic Violence Conviction in Florida
Domestic violence can be a misdemeanor or felony. The level of charge is tied to the conduct involved and the severity of the offense. Most often, the prosecutor determines the charges based on the facts of the case as supplied by the victim and any witnesses.
Because a range of crimes can be considered domestic violence, the potential conviction penalties vary depending on the specific offense the defendant has been accused of.
Below are the charges and punishments that can be levied in a domestic violence case:
- Up to 60 days of incarceration and/or
- Up to $500 in fines
- Up to 1 year of incarceration and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Up to 5 years of imprisonment and/or
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated stalking
- False imprisonment
- Up to 15 years of imprisonment and/or
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Aggravated battery
- Up to life imprisonment or
- Up to 30 years of imprisonment and/or
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Sexual battery
In addition to the penalties listed above, a domestic violence conviction can also lead to the following:
- Minimum of 1 year of probation
- Completion of a batterers’ intervention program as a condition of probation
- Minimum of 10 days in jail for a first offense resulting in bodily harm
- Minimum of 15 days in jail for a second offense resulting in bodily harm or a first violent offense committed in the presence of a child under 16 years of age
- Minimum of 20 days in jail for a third or subsequent offense resulting in bodily harm or for a second violent offense committed in the presence of a child under 16 years of age
- Minimum of 30 days in jail for a third or subsequent violent offense committed in the presence of a child under 16 years of age
Can the Victim Drop Domestic Violence Charges in Florida?
Florida domestic violence laws state that a person can be arrested or prosecuted regardless of whether the victim does not wish to move forward. In fact, even spousal abuse cases can be extremely difficult to drop against the abuser. Laws state that a prosecutor can proceed with the case even if the victim does not wish to cooperate or testify in court. Additionally, the prosecutor is the only person with the authority to drop domestic violence charges.
Evidence in a Miami Domestic Violence Case
When it comes to domestic violence cases in Miami, prosecutors make decisions on how the case will go based on the evidence they have. The strength of your case will depend significantly on the attorney you choose, and how much evidence (or lack of) there is. Domestic violence charges are often dropped for the same reasons.
There Is Insufficient Evidence
A major reason to drop any criminal case is when there is insufficient evidence to support the claims. There are many different types of evidence that must be established to convict someone of domestic violence successfully.
Lack of Willfulness
Willfulness can be explained simply as the reason to why someone committed an act of domestic violence. For example, if you knocked a cup out of your significant other’s hand on accident while talking, there is no evidence of willfulness to commit the abuse. This can be used as evidence to defend yourself.
The ‘Victim’ Isn’t Credible
If the victim gives the prosecutor a reason to believe they are not credible, they could drop all charges.
Some examples include:
- A history of mental illness
- A history of making false accusations
- Having an ulterior motive (to win child custody or a property battle)
Lack of Serious Injuries
A serious bodily injury typically means that the victim suffered an injury that required medical treatment or that loss of impairment of any bodily function or organ occurred. Some examples include:
- Broken limbs
- Black eyes
- Large gashes requiring staples or stitches
- Permanent or partial disfigurement
If a medical physician testifies that the victim’s injuries were not very serious, or that the symptoms were over-exaggerated, the prosecutor could lighten the related charges.
Domestic Violence Orders of Protection in Florida
Individuals who have been or believe they will be a victim of domestic violence can petition for an injunction to protect themselves against future harm. The petitioner must state what injury they have suffered or may suffer causing them to seek relief.
The court will hold a hearing to decide whether the alleged victim’s request should be approved. The hearing is where both parties can present their sides of the story. However, in some cases, a judge can issue a temporary ex parte order, which means the decision is based only on the alleged victim’s statements. An ex parte order can be valid for up to 15 days. The court must hold a full hearing before the ex parte order expires.
If a judge grants the injunction, they may order various conditions, including:
- Restraining the alleged offender from committing future domestic violence
- Awarding the alleged victim possession of a shared home
- Ordering a parenting plan with scheduled parenting time
- Ordering the alleged offender to pay child support
- Requiring the alleged offender to complete a batterers’ intervention program or other treatment
Violating a domestic violence protection order is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
Fight Your Domestic Violence Charge in Miami
Domestic violence laws are complicated. In these cases, it is important to retain an experienced Miami domestic violence lawyer with the necessary skills and knowledge to defend you. Our Miami domestic violence attorneys at Hager & Schwartz, P.A. recognize the adverse impacts a person can face if accused of an offense. That is why we are here to explore the facts of your case and determine an appropriate plan to seek a favorable outcome, such as dropped charges or reduced penalties.
Aggravated Battery Case Dismissed
Aggravated Battery Case Dismissed
Aggravated Battery and Domestic Violence Injunction Case and Injunction Dismissed
Aggravated Battery and Armed Burglary with Battery Case Dropped
Armed Robbery with Firearm Case Dismissed
Domestic Battery Case Dismissed
Domestic Battery Expunged
Controlled Substance Case Dropped
Criminal Mischief and Disorderly Intoxication Case Dismissed
Disorderly Conduct Case Dismissed and Expunged off Record
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