Domestic violence charges in Florida are possibly one of the most severe crimes in the state. The law defines the offense as an instance of assault, battery, or criminal act that results in the physical injury or death of a family or household member by another family or household member.
If you face a domestic violence charge, get in touch with a Lakeland criminal defense attorney right away. Know that these charges cannot be dropped by the victim and are prosecuted aggressively by the state. You’ll need experienced counsel on how to manage the accusations and potential penalties.
Domestic Violence Charges Include a Broad Category of Offenses
Domestic violence charges include a range of offenses such as assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, sexual assault, sexual battery, kidnapping, and false imprisonment. Florida law protects all the members of a household, not just married couples. For instance:
- Current and former spouses and unmarried partners
- Family members who are related by blood or marriage
- Unrelated individuals who are living in the same household as a family or once lived together as a family
- Parents of a child, even if they have never been married to each other
- Any individuals who are currently living or used to live at a shared address
Penalties for Domestic Violence
Offenders found guilty of domestic violence can expect punishments ranging from a stay in county jail to imprisonment in the state prison. However, the penalty can also depend on whether the perpetrator has a prior history of similar crimes.
- First offense – 10 days in a county jail
- Second offense – 15-day jail term
- Third or any subsequent offenses – 20-day county jail term or state prison term
If a minor who is 16-years-old or younger is present for the crime, the penalties for the third and any subsequent offenses grow more severe. The sentence is 30 days in a county jail or state prison, depending on the judge’s discretion.
Domestic violence offenses also carry mandatory enrollment in a batterer’s intervention program along with at least one year of probation. Additional penalties can also be awarded, such as community service hours and restrictions on firearm use.
Injunction or No Contact Penalties for Domestic Violence
Injunction or no contact orders are passed to ensure the safety of the victims right away. Depending on the evidence available, the court may choose to award temporary or long-term protection to the victims. These orders work to:
- Restrain the offender and keep them away from the victim
- Remove the offender from the household they share with the victim.
- Make the offender participate in counseling and/or community service.
How a Temporary Injunction Works
When the victim moves the court for protection from the offender, a hearing is scheduled where the judge hears the facts of the situation from both parties’ legal representation. If it is clear that the victim is in danger, the judge may issue a temporary order that remains in effect until the hearing date. At the actual hearing, the court explores the evidence in detail and reviews statements from the alleged offender and victim. If the judge deems that a pattern of abuse exists, an injunction is ordered.
Violating an Injunction is a First Degree Misdemeanor
Offenders may violate injunction orders in different ways and can incur more severe penalties. For instance, cyberstalking and repeated harassment after an injunction are considered aggravated stalking and a third degree felony. Perpetrators can earn penalties such as a maximum of 5 years in prison, a maximum of 5 years’ probation, and a fine of $5,000. Violations can include acts like:
- Refusing to leave the residence shared with the victim
- Not respecting the 500 feet mandatory distance
- Communicating or attempting to communicate with the victim via phone, text, email, or any other
- Threatening the victim
- Destroying property belonging to the victim
- Any additional domestic violence acts
Get the Assistance of the Competent Legal Team at Smith & Eulo
Domestic violence crimes often go to trial with jury members reviewing the facts. It is advisable to have expert representation to ensure that your side of the situation is heard and that your rights are upheld. More than half of such charges are dismissed if the prosecutor is unable to provide adequate proof that domestic violence did take place, as reported.
The attorneys at Smith & Eulo have extensive experience representing clients facing charges of domestic violence. Rely on their expertise to understand how to proceed and what to say and do at the trial.