Domestic Violence Defense FAQ | Clearwater - Tampa
Our Skilled Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys will conduct an immediate, in-depth case review with you which includes an explanation of the elements of the charge(s) and an evaluation of the facts to determine your best defense. Relationships are complicated. No matter how much you love someone, conflicts are inevitable. In Florida, allegations of domestic violence are taken very seriously and almost always result in charges being pressed.
If you have questions related to your specific case, you can contact us 24/7 for a free case review.
Here are some common questions that our firm receives from clients involved in Domestic Violence Defense cases:
What is considered domestic violence in Florida?
Florida law classifies various criminal offenses under the general category of domestic violence, including:.
- Domestic battery and aggravated battery
- Domestic assault and aggravated assault
- Kidnapping and false imprisonment
- Elderly Abuse
- Harassment, stalking and aggravated stalking
- Restraining order and no-contact order violations
- Sexual battery, rape, and other sex offenses
- Any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member
Domestic violence is defined as any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, 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.
“Family or household member” means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. 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.
Domestic violence is not just recurring violent behavior against a family member, such as a spouse or parent. Even an isolated event of grabbing, pushing or any other type of battery between a couple – married or not – siblings, or a parent and child can be considered domestic violence.
Why it is Important to Hire an Experienced Domestic Violence Defense Attorney?
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Do you have to live with the person charged with domestic violence?
No. In a Domestic Violence Defense case in Florida, the offense has to be committed by one family or household member against another. This can mean a spouse or former spouse, a girl or boyfriend, or someone related to you by blood or marriage or if a child is shared between the parties. It does not matter if you have lived with this person in the past, present or ever.
If I'm convicted of domestic violence, can my record be sealed and/or expunged?
No. This fact is often not revealed when a plea to a domestic violence offense is offered.
What if the victim doesn't want to press charges?
That doesn't mean the charges will be dropped. The Prosecutor does not always have to rely on the testimony of a victim to charge, prosecute and win a domestic violence case. Often the prosecution may have other evidence, such as pictures of injuries, admissible statements, etc. Domestic Violence offenses are taken very seriously by the courts (it's very political now), they are pursued and can sometimes even be won with or without the testimony of the victim.
Why are domestic violence cases treated differently than other types of criminal offenses?
Florida Statute 741.2901(2) provides that it is the intent of the Florida Legislature to treat domestic violence “as a criminal act rather than a private matter.”
The Florida legislature has expressed an intention that “criminal prosecution shall be the favored method of enforcing compliance with injunctions for protection against domestic violence as both length and severity of sentence for those found to have committed the crime of domestic violence can be greater, thus providing greater protection to victims and better accountability of perpetrators.”
I have been falsely accused of domestic violence – what should I do now?
Don't talk to anyone, call us. If you decide to speak to law enforcement about the facts of your case without an attorney being present, then you are waiving your Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and your Sixth Amendment right to counsel. In the event the officer does intend to make an arrest, as your attorneys, we can help you surrender under terms that may speed up your release, keep you safe, and save you money. We can contact the prosecutor to discuss lowering the bond amount.
What are typical punishments for Domestic Battery?
Felony domestic violence is more serious than misdemeanor domestic violence. Misdemeanors are punishable by small monetary fines and/or jail sentences of up to one-year maximum.
A domestic violence felony charge can result in the following consequences:
- Heavier fines, sometimes several thousand dollars
- Incarceration in a state or federal prison facility, for periods longer than one year
- Mandatory rehabilitation courses
- Probation periods
Also, being found guilty could result in:
- Loss of gun ownership privileges (for offenders who have been issued a domestic violence restraining order)
- Loss of custody rights or visitation privileges
- Inability to secure a job or housing
Finally, most domestic violence criminal charges are considered to be misdemeanors, unless they involve serious injury or violence. However, in Florida, a domestic violence misdemeanor charge will often be counted as a felony due to the previous offenses.
What is the Batterers' Intervention Program?
The Batterers' Intervention Program (BIP) is a twenty-six (26) to twenty-nine (29) week intensive program that addresses the causes of domestic violence and the ways to prevent it in the future. In order to successfully complete the Batterers' Intervention Program, you must pay for a BIP Assessment, and then undergo the Assessment.
After the assessment, you must then pay for an orientation, and complete the orientation. Next, you have to attend 26 weeks of classes and pay for weekly small group counseling sessions (which are usually 90 minutes each) and complete at home assignments in your spare time. If you miss any of the classes you can be kicked out of the program which will cause you to violate probation and be subject to a “no bond” arrest warrant.