Domestic Violence Lawyer in Sarasota, FL: Proper Defense from Experienced Attorneys
While it might seem counterintuitive to hurt or get hurt by the ones we love, the reality in the state of Florida is that domestic violence is one of the most common charges filed in the justice system.
Whether you are the victim of domestic violence or have been accused of it, you need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. As a victim, there are several things you can do to protect yourself both in the near- and far-term, but you must act quickly.
If you’ve been accused, know that these charges are taken very seriously by the courts, and if convicted, can seriously impact the rest of your life.
No matter the circumstance, if you’ve been involved in any kind of domestic violence in the Sarasota, Florida area, get in touch with an experienced domestic violence lawyer today.
What is Domestic Violence?
According to Florida statutes, Domestic Violence is any violent act committed by one family member against another member of his/her family or household. These violent acts include but are not limited to:
- Assault (a threat of violence against someone)
- Aggravated assault (assault with a weapon)
- Domestic Battery (carrying out that threat of violence)
- Aggravated battery (carry out the threat with a weapon)
- Sexual assault (making unwanted sexual contact with a victim)
- Sexual battery (in the state of Florida, this is the same as rape: forcing someone to engage in a sexual act against their will)
- Stalking (following, harassing, or cyberstalking another person)
- Aggravated stalking (stalking with a threat, while an injunction is in place, or if the victim is under 16-years old)
- False imprisonment (imprisoning someone without legal reason to do so)
One important thing to note about domestic violence is that you do not need to be related by blood with the victim or the attacker for a crime to be considered domestic violence.
If you are dating, were once dating, or married (exes), are married, or are living in the same household, a violent crime committed would be classified as domestic violence and would be prosecuted accordingly.
Recourse for Domestic Violence Victims
If you feel you have been the victim of domestic violence, the first thing you need to do is get yourself to safety. Get away from the person who has been committing violence against you. Then, contact a lawyer and/or law enforcement.
When the threat to your safety is imminent, you may be able to file an immediate injunction with the courts. An injunction is Florida’s version of a restraining order. The individual against whom you’ve filed this injunction will be forced to stay away from you for a period of 15 days.
During that time, if the threat is deemed credible, you will be given a hearing at which you can present your case to a judge. At that point, the judge may extend the injunction to a maximum period of six months. After that period is over, the judge may extend it for another six months if it’s deemed necessary to do so.
At the same time, you can also file criminal charges against your attacker.
Potential Consequences for a Domestic Violence Conviction
If you’ve been charged with domestic violence or are accusing someone of it, know that this is a very serious matter. Domestic violence charges are given special attention in the state of Florida, which can lead to more severe and more damaging consequences.
Consequences By Type of Charge
While taken very seriously, domestic violence is not its own crime. Instead, it’s a special classification of another crime. Therefore, potential sentences can vary considerably based on the specifics of the case.
For example, if you are charged with Simple Assault Domestic Violence, this is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor. Potential consequences include up to 60 days in jail or up to six months’ probation.
On the other hand, if you are charged with aggravated assault, this is a third-degree felony and could result in up to five years in jail. Rape, or sexual battery in the state of Florida, is considered a second-degree felony and includes a minimum jail sentence of nine year, with a maximum sentence of life in prison.
In the end, domestic violence is a crime, but it is charged alongside other charges and that’s what will determine your sentence.
Special Circumstances Surrounding Domestic Violence
Although sentencing is ultimately determined by the underlying crime that was committed in a domestic violence case, there are a few things that are added on to domestic violence sentences.
For example, in the state of Florida, if you are convicted on a domestic violence charge, an injunction will automatically be filed against you for a period of one year. In addition, the state will and often does mandate that you attend some sort of counseling, such as anger management training. Failure to do so could result in more serious punishments from the courts.
Long-Term Consequences of a Domestic Violence Charge
One thing that is different about domestic violence cases is that convictions can never be removed from your record. Unlike some other crimes, which can be expunged from your record so that they are not publicly visible, domestic violence charges stay there forever.
This can have serious long-term consequences in your life as it may prevent you from getting certain kinds of employment.
The only way to avoid this is to avoid conviction at trial.
Why You Need a Domestic Violence Lawyer in Sarasota, FL
Whether you’re a victim or have been accused of domestic violence, it’s of utmost importance that you hire a lawyer to help you handle your case. The legal proceedings are difficult, and the consequences can be severe.
The attorneys working at Smith and Eulo Law Firm have years of experience handling domestic violence cases and are standing by ready to help you. Get in touch today to start preparing your case.
* Here are some additional legal resources in the Sarasota area to help you navigate your situation.
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