Unlike some other states, Florida does not define “domestic violence” as a unique criminal offense. It instead allows police officers and court officials to designate certain offenses as “domestic violence” based on the people allegedly involved. This does not mean, though, that courts do not take domestic violence allegations seriously here—in fact, the exact opposite is true in many situations, as many people who try to handle these accusations by themselves learn the hard way.
Put simply, domestic violence charges are not something you want to face without having a skilled and experienced private defense attorney on your side. No matter what specifically you stand accused of or how the accusations came about in the first place, you should strongly consider speaking with a Dr. Phillips domestic violence lawyer about how they could help you defend yourself.
According to Florida Statutes § 741.28, someone commits “domestic violence” if they commit any of the following offenses against a “family or household member”:
In this context, the term “family or household member” applies to relatives by blood or marriage like spouses, children, parents, and siblings. It also applies to people who are currently residing with the defendant “as if a family” or who resided with them in that way in the past, as well as former spouses, adopted children, and co-parents of the same child.
Notably, Florida’s domestic violence law as written does not currently cover people who are in an intimate relationship with each other but are not cohabitating. That means violent criminal conduct against a boyfriend or girlfriend is not always classified as domestic violence. As a Dr. Phillips domestic violence attorney can explain, people who experience violent conduct from an intimate partner can still apply for a dating violence injunction in accordance with FL Stat. § 784.046.
Having a criminal charge classified as “domestic violence” in Dr. Phillips will not allow a court to go beyond the maximum fines and terms of imprisonment prescribed by state law for the underlying offense. For example, someone convicted of simple battery under FL Stat. § 784.03 could face a maximum one-year jail term and $1,000 fine regardless of whether their offense constituted domestic violence or not.
That said, a domestic violence designation does allow a court to impose a variety of other sanctions on a convicted person, including a mandatory 26-week batterer’s intervention program, additional community service and probation time, and mandatory minimum jail stays. Furthermore, individuals convicted of even a misdemeanor domestic violence offense will generally be prohibited from lawfully possessing firearms—something a skilled domestic violence defense lawyer in Dr. Phillips could provide crucial help with contesting.
These charges have numerous defenses, such as arguing a threat should not rise to the level assault, that the accuser should not be considered a family or household member, or that the accuser is lying or exaggerating the events. The right evidence may be able to get the charge dismissed or reduced.
Domestic violence allegations tend to make for both legally and emotionally complex criminal proceedings, especially if this is not your first time facing these allegations. Even if your criminal record was completely clean prior to now, you still need to act quickly if you want to enforce your rights and maximize your chances of getting a positive case result.
A Dr. Phillips domestic violence lawyer can discuss your options with you in detail over the course of a confidential consultation. Call today to schedule yours.
The Umansky Law Firm Criminal Defense & Injury Attorneys