A conviction for domestic violence can impact various aspects of your daily life, including your ability to find a job or housing, as employers and landlords often shy away from hiring or leasing to those who have been convicted of violent crimes. Furthermore, if you have children involved, you may face the possibility of losing custody. Don't allow this to happen – Weinstein Legal will fight for you.
There is a great deal of confusion regarding domestic violence charges.
In Florida, the term "domestic violence" means that the defendant allegedly committed a violent crime against a blood-related family member of their household, someone with whom they've been married or had been married, or someone with whom they have a child in common.
It does not describe the level of the underlying crime. In other words, domestic assault is still a second-degree misdemeanor, just like simple assault. An aggravated battery will be a second-degree felony, whether it can be classified as a domestic crime or not.
There are, however, some differences. A domestic crime can be charged without the consent of the victim. If the officers have probable cause to arrest the alleged attacker, they can do so without the victim's consent or cooperation. Additionally, it allows the courts to sentence the defendant to a domestic abuse program. It's also common for the courts to issue a temporary domestic violence injunction before the trial.
In Florida, domestic violence can occur between anyone you have a romantic relationship with, share a home with, or would consider a family member. While the term generally applies to abuse or violence between spouses, many relationships fall under the domestic abuse umbrella.
A domestic abuse charge does not have to be "violent" or have an injury involved. This includes:
This is a catchall term to describe violent crimes. Physical abuse can include misdemeanor crimes like simple assault and simple battery or felony crimes like aggravated assault and aggravated battery. Other physical abuse charges include battery on a pregnant woman, battery on a minor, false imprisonment, kidnapping, and more.
Any pattern that places the victim in fear for their safety or emotional well-being can be considered emotional abuse. Emotional abuse crimes are more difficult to prove in a criminal court, but some crimes have other elements that fall under this category. Emotional abuse can include offenses like stalking, aggravated stalking, cyberstalking, and more.
This term describes crimes that commit the Florida statutory definition of domestic crimes. Using the legal definition of domestic battery, domestic abuse can be considered: "any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member."
Crimes of a sexual nature are frequently connected with domestic abuse. Some of these include sexual battery or rape, sexual acts with a minor, distribution of nude photos of the victim (sexual cyberharassment), and other acts of a similar nature. These crimes range from misdemeanors all the way up to capital felonies.
If you are charged with committing a harmful act against a family or household member, the charge will be a type of domestic violence.
What Defines a Household or Family Member Under Florida Law
Florida law defines a household or family member as an individual who is related in the following ways:
- Spouse or Former Spouse: Married by law or previously married.
- Parent: Natural, biological, adoptive parent, or legal guardian. This also includes step-parents.
- Child: Natural, biological, adopted son or daughter. This also includes step-children.
- Sibling: Natural, biological, or adopted brother or sister. This also includes both step- and half-brothers and sisters.
- Other Family: Grandparent, cousin, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece. This also includes in-laws.
- Co-Habitant: Lived with offender as married couple or without legal marriage.
- Other: Offender and victim have a child together, but never married nor lived together.
If you are facing charges for domestic abuse, you should hire a criminal defense attorney near you right away. Not only can you face time in jail, hefty fines, a restraining order, or the loss of custody of your children, but your reputation will be permanently damaged. Having an experienced domestic assault defense lawyer on your side can avoid these consequences, but you must act quickly.
Common Charges for Domestic Violence
In Florida, domestic violence or domestic battery is a first-degree misdemeanor, with penalties that can include up to one year in jail or a year of probation and a $1,000 fine. Depending on the injuries, if the alleged victim is pregnant, or allegations of choking or strangling are involved, the case becomes a felony, and potential punishment is severely increased.
Developing an effective defense strategy generally involves a multi-pronged approach. The good news is that domestic violence charges are often made with little evidence in Florida. More often than not, it's one person's word against another. For this reason, you should never agree to a plea deal before consulting a domestic violence lawyer near you who can help you explore all potential legal remedies.
Your attorney for domestic violence will begin by taking the following steps:
- File Legal Motions to Dismiss Your Case: these are formal requests to the judge asking that your case be dismissed. These may include a motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence, motion to limit your liability, and motion to dismiss. A granted motion to dismiss will result in a complete dismissal of your case.
- Investigate the Facts to Challenge the Prosecutor's Evidence: the criminal charges in your case may have been filed based on incomplete evidence, or evidence the prosecutor was unable to discover. We will examine all the facts presented in your case, subpoena documents if necessary, and make sure that all the evidence is presented.
- Prepare a Persuasive Character Packet: we prepare a detailed profile of your character that can be presented to the judge or prosecutor. The goal of this profile is to demonstrate that you are not a criminal and do not deserve to be sent to jail or end up with a permanent criminal record. It will highlight your good character, potential exonerating circumstances surrounding the incident, and lack of a serious criminal record.
By having an experienced Florida domestic violence or domestic battery attorney on board your case as soon as possible, your chances of having the charges reduced or dismissed before going to trial are significantly higher.
How Domestic Violence Charges Get Dropped
If you plead guilty to a domestic battery or domestic violence-related charge, it will stay on your record permanently. Florida law declares that a person who commits an act of domestic abuse, battery, or any other domestic violence-related charge is ineligible to have their record expunged or sealed.
Your best course of action is to contact an experienced family abuse lawyer as soon as possible to craft a defense strategy.
Your First Appearance for a Domestic Abuse Charge
In the state of Florida, domestic abuse charges carry what is known as “no bond.” This means that you cannot post bail to get out of jail following arrest until you appear in court for the first time. At this point, a judge will determine your bail amount, or whether to keep you in custody on a no bond.
Having an experienced domestic abuse attorney with you is essential during your first court appearance. This will improve your chances of receiving a lower bail amount you can afford more easily. The person pressing charges against you may be present with a Victim Witness Advocate, and they may speak to the judge requesting that you remain in prison or receive a no-contact order. Do not face this court appearance alone. Having an experienced domestic abuse defense attorney can significantly help your case.
The individual pressing charges against you may motion the courts for a protective order. It's important to understand that you do not need to have a conviction for a judge to grant such an order. This is especially important if you share children, other close relatives, or close friends with the person pressing charges against you. If a judge grants the protective order, you may not be able to see your children, and you may have to alter your daily routine to avoid the other person greatly. It is your responsibility to stay away from them if a judge grants the order, and it is not their responsibility to stay away from you.
Additionally, if a judge grants this order, you may have to turn in any firearms or weapons that you own. You may also have to abstain from drinking alcohol, and you may have to pay for the other person to find another place to live while the order is in place. These are steep consequences. Make sure you have an experienced domestic abuse attorney on your side who will argue why these measures aren't necessary and helping to protect your freedoms.
A conviction for domestic violence can be a life-changing event. It can result in jail time, fines, loss of custody or visiting rights with your children, the ability to own a firearm, and have a lasting impact on your ability to get or keep a job.
Hiring an experienced domestic abuse lawyer increases your chances of getting a fair defense. A skilled criminal domestic violence lawyer will have the knowledge required to develop the best strategy for your unique circumstances. When you hire a domestic abuse attorney it sends a message that you are dedicated to fighting the case.
If you're an individual who has been accused of domestic violence, you have rights. That's a fact that sometimes gets lost in domestic violence investigations. Weinstein Legal represents individuals charged with crimes of domestic violence. Here is a list of reading material that we've written and assembled to help you better understand what you're up against.
Learn more about defending against domestic charges:
Can You Fight a Restraining Order?
How to Fight a Restraining Order
How Do I get Domestic Violence Charges Dropped in Florida?
Domestic Violence: Is it Considered a Felony in Florida?
Is Stalking a Felony Charge in Florida?
What to Do if You Are Being Accused of Sexual Assault or Battery?
Know Your Rights if You are Arrested
As a person faces charges, the police investigating the allegations must follow proper protocol in your arrest and questioning. Do not go through this process alone. Let our attorneys stand beside you as your aggressive representation, protecting your rights and ensuring that you get a fair hearing.
At the Weinstein Legal Team, our experienced domestic violence attorneys know how fast a criminal case can intensify as well as the serious consequences that can follow. Early intervention by an experienced domestic violence lawyer is essential to getting charges reduced or dismissed.
Do not try to resolve a domestic violence case without an experienced criminal domestic violence attorney near you, even if you know that you are innocent and believe that the courts will see this too. In domestic violence cases, this does not always happen and in a case that can come down to your word versus the word of another, do not take the chance. You have too much to lose. As a former prosecutor with years of experience in the criminal justice system, Mr. Matt Shafran and our criminal defense team know what is involved in handling a domestic abuse case.
When you hire the team at Weinstein Legal you can rest assured that you have professionals on your side who are working to prove your innocence and preserve your reputation. With years of experience in criminal defense and defense for domestic abuse, Weinstein Legal is the law firm to turn to in your time of need. We serve all of Central and South Florida with Law Offices in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando.
Experienced Domestic Violence Attorneys at Your Side
Our phones are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There will never be a time when you cannot reach your domestic violence lawyers; that's how dedicated we are to fighting our clients' cases to the best of our ability. Over the years, we have helped countless individuals receive positive outcomes in a court of law.
We will not rest until they build the best possible case on your behalf.
"...Matt gave me the hope I needed in order to get through it all. He was able to lessen the consequences I had to face... If you are looking for a lawyer to give you hope, help, and work hard for your benefit, you have found him. There is no one better..." - anonymous
Weinstein Legal has offices in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. If you've been charged with a domestic crime in South Florida or Central Florida, contact one of our offices for a FREE consultation and immediate legal representation. Click the office nearest you to see if we represent clients in your county:
Your life hinges on making the right decision, so call Weinstein Legal at (954) 845-0505 today.