An extremely emotional situation with a loved one could lead to you losing control and commit an act of domestic violence. In some Florida cases, people’s intense emotions can lead a loved one to make false allegations of domestic violence against a spouse. Both situations can lead to serious legal trouble.
Whatever prompted your domestic violence arrest, it’s important that you hire an experienced Florida domestic violence defense attorney who has the strategies required to resolve your case with a favorable conclusion.
In Florida, domestic violence cases are taken quite seriously and prosecuted vigorously. In some cases, the penalties you face may be harsher than if a comparable crime was committed by a stranger.
How is Domestic Violence Defined in Florida?
The state of Florida defines domestic violence as any act that involves sexual assault, assault, aggravated battery, battery, kidnapping, sexual battery, stalking, false imprisonment, aggravated stalking, or any other criminal offense that ends in death or injury by one family member against another.
Is Domestic Violence a Misdemeanor or Felony in Florida?
There isn’t one specific domestic violence charge in Florida. Rather, domestic violence in Florida refers to a wide range of different violent offenses involving spouses, individuals who are dating, non-married parents of a child, and other household and family members.
The nature and severity of your actions will determine whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Normally, cases that involve certain circumstances could subject you to felony charges. These include:
- If you caused great bodily harm to the victim
- If your victim was pregnant
- If you strangled your victim
- Stalking that violated an injunction
- Assault with a deadly weapon
In addition, any crimes against a child are automatically prosecuted as a felony.
How severe your charge is will determine what type of sentence you may receive. If you are convicted of a felony with a prior criminal record, especially if your prior record contains violent crimes, you are more likely to face prison time along with fines.
What Happens if I am Arrested for Domestic Violence in Florida?
In most situations, a domestic violence arrest will take place while emotions are still running high. In some Florida cases, the complaining witness may be able to request the State Attorney’s Office drop charges. However, the prosecutor may decide to pursue your case, even without a victim’s cooperation.
You may be given the option of enrolling in a domestic violence diversion program instead of having to go to trial. This option is generally only available to you if you are a first-time offender and don’t have a prior criminal record.
If you are accepted into the program, you will be required to attend counseling and probation-like supervision for a period of time. If you successfully complete the diversion program and no new criminal charges have been filed against you, then the Florida State Attorney will normally drop the charges.
However, if you fail to complete the Florida diversion program successfully or if new criminal charges have been filed against you prior to your completion, your prosecution will normally proceed forward.
What Penalties Could I Face if Convicted of Domestic Violence in Florida?
In Florida, the penalties for domestic violence can range from a restraining order in the Florida civil court to third-degree felonies or more if serious injury or death results. Your penalty will depend upon the type and severity of the violence.
A misdemeanor battery charge could result in you facing a jail sentence of up to a year, while a third-degree felony conviction for aggravated assault could land you up to five (5) years in prison. Additionally, your probation requirements can be stringent, often requiring you to get treatment for alcohol abuse, anger management, or specialized, intensive domestic violence counseling.
Besides Florida’s potential criminal penalties, you, as a domestic violence defendant, need to consider the impact a conviction could have on your job and/or career even if you enter a guilty or no contest plea results in a paper trail that cannot be expunged from your record.
This record could have a great impact on any process that requires you to undergo a criminal background check. This effect may include anything from signing a lease agreement to applying for a job.
To protect yourself against a permanent stain on your record, it’s vitally important that you speak to a Florida domestic violence defense lawyer at Stevenson Klotz before entering any plea.
At the Florida law firm of Stevenson Klotz, we understand how important a good defense is in your domestic violence case. Our Florida domestic violence defense attorneys have a successful record in Florida courts, by skillfully defending all of our clients. To discuss your individual case, call to schedule a free consultation.