Florida has comprehensive and extensive domestic violence laws that address everything—from how first responders should respond to victims to the mandatory penalties the accused will face if convicted. With the state’s careful measures to handle these cases, it is clear just how serious they consider domestic violence.
If you’re someone that is accused or charged with domestic violence in Florida, you should know the procedures involved in these cases. This article will walk you through what you need to know about how the process works.
What is the Definition of Domestic Violence in Florida?
In Florida, Domestic Violence is a serious crime involving aggressive and violent behavior or acts committed against a family or household member. Notably, an individual is accused of domestic violence if they become violent with their spouse, ex-spouse, or a relative related to them by blood or marriage.
Florida’s domestic violence statute, §741.28, explains and defines several violent offenses that are now considered an act of domestic violence. This charge may include physical and sexual violence, emotional abuse, isolation, pet abuse, economic abuse, threats relating to children, and a wide variety of other behaviors meant to intimidate, instill fear, and exert power over the victim.
By definition, the victim must be a family or household member that currently resides or has lived together in the same dwelling unit as the accused. Domestic violence is the kind of crime that knows no boundaries—it can occur to anyone, regardless of religion, race, gender, culture, or socioeconomic status.
What Are the Acts Covered Under Florida’s Domestic Violence Laws?
Any violent crime can fall under domestic violence as long as it complies with the primary requirements of the law. Though the most common crimes include:
- Aggravated Assault
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated battery
- Sexual battery
- Aggravated stalking
- False imprisonment
- Any criminal offense committed by a person that resulted in physical injury or death of a family or household member
However, note that the criminal offense that will be charged for the domestic violence incident will depend on the situation’s circumstances. For instance, physical contact or injury could turn into a battery charge, while a threat of physical harm can also become an assault charge.
Suppose a prosecutor can establish an aggravating factor set by the state’s laws. In that case, it may become an aggravated battery or assault charge, which results in a felony and entails a more severe penalty or punishment.
What Are the Domestic Violence Procedures?
If you’re charged with domestic violence, it will help if you know the procedure. That way, you are fully informed of what can help and jeopardize your case.
Once an individual is charged with domestic violence, they will be subjected to a protective order placed on the rest of the family or household members. This order is issued by the court and may be modified if necessary. If any of the rules or guidelines under the protective order are violated, new charges are the most probable outcome.
Maintaining distance from the alleged victim is vital, and the accused should not initiate any kind of contact with those in the home unless executed by their lawyer.
First Steps to Take After the Arrest
After the arrest, an arraignment takes place. This is the time when allegations are issued, and the accused on trial can issue a plea. After consulting with a lawyer, the accused can plead guilty or not guilty.
The defendant may change their plea at any point in the case process. It’s necessary to consult with a qualified lawyer before the arraignment.
After the Arraignment
After the arraignment, new court dates will be set, and the lawyer may take the necessary steps to defend the accused. Pre-trial negotiations are typically placed on the first date that will pass. This is when the legal representative or lawyer will discuss the case facts, the victim’s history, the defendant’s criminal history, any injuries sustained, and other relevant factors to the case.
The facts presented may be investigated by the lawyer to come up with the best defenses. They may also conduct their investigation by reaching out to the witnesses. Additionally, they may interview those with personal relationships with the accused and anyone with favorable comments on the defendant’s part.
Meeting With a Lawyer
When meeting with a lawyer, you should provide any information that can be useful to build your case. This can include a violent history of the victim, psychological illnesses, or false accusations. The defendant must share all relevant information with their legal counsel to ensure the best possible outcome.
Defendants of domestic violence cases have the right to a jury trial. It may take longer, from several days to weeks, while various jury members all hear and review the evidence of both sides. Pieces of evidence are submitted, and witnesses will testify during these trials.
Before, during, and after the trial, a plea bargain may be presented or made to the accused. It is crucial to understand the offer, whether jail time will be issued or if probation is required, and whether there are other penalties like fines and community service requirements.
If the accused is convicted and they did not accept the plea bargain, they will be subjected to several criminal punishments and penalties. These include a prison sentence, domestic violence counseling, fees, probation, fines, community service, and the issuance of a protective order.
Moreover, they will lose their Second Amendment rights and must surrender all their firearms. There are also custody issues involving their children.
Get Legal Help From An Experienced Attorney
A domestic violence charge is a difficult situation for everyone involved. Often, it implies a severe problem in the home and relationship. A conviction of domestic violence in Florida can carry several significant criminal penalties.
Allegations and accusations of domestic violence can subject you to injunctions that can gravely affect your parental rights. This is why you need to have the right people by your side to help with your case.
A seasoned and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can provide invaluable guidance if you’re charged with domestic violence. At Hanlon Law Sarasota, our attorneys can help protect your rights and help you work towards a successful or favorable resolution of your case.
Contact our team today to discuss your options moving forward.
1605 Main St Ste 1115
Sarasota, FL 34236