Overview: Domestic Violence-Related Charges In Florida
Domestic violence charges are serious charges. The social climate today no longer tolerates abuse, and many employers and schools may take action immediately upon learning of a domestic violence incident or charge by terminating an employee’s contract, suspending them until the charges are cleared, or expelling them. The negative association with an accused abuser is unwanted, thus schools and employers often choose to put some distance between their institution and the accused party immediately. It is no longer the norm to support an accused abuser until the matter is worked out in the courts. In today’s social climate, it’s distance first, let the courts figure it out, and perhaps begin a dialogue again later if the accused is found to be innocent.
Conditions for Pre-Trial Release in Domestic Abuse Cases in Florida
In Florida, the pre-trial release conditions for domestic abuse are of great consequence and as such require attention right away.
What Is the Best Course of Action to Deal with a Domestic Abuse Allegation?
Without question, if you are facing a domestic abuse charge or allegation, your best (and first) move should be to consult with and retain the services of an experienced attorney immediately. The list of problems and potential actions against you is long; you could be facing prison time, probation, or even be forced to move out of your own home. If you are accused of domestic abuse and arrested, more than likely the court will deliver a ‘no contact’ order right away, sometimes as quickly as 24 hours after your arrest.
If this happens to you, you could literally be pushed out of your own home, regardless of whether your significant other has paid even one dollar for the mortgage or rent. The court will allow them to live in the residence that you pay for until at such point you can have the contact order changed via the court process. And the courts mean business, you literally will get one trip back to grab your needed belongings, clothes, etc. After that one courtesy, subsequent trips to retrieve belongings must be in the company of a deputy, and you will have to pay the city or county out of pocket for their time.
Our firm prides itself on understanding all the nuances of no contact orders and every issue pertaining to pre-trial releases. We take an aggressive approach in every case because we know that everything is on the line for you and it’s a serious matter when you come to us. As such we will often move to file a motion to modify your no-contact order immediately, to get it scheduled for a hearing.
What Are the Location Restrictions for Individuals Who Are Accused of Domestic Violence?
The loss of your residence is difficult in and of itself, but for an individual accused of domestic violence, loss of residence may only be the beginning. The court could order an accused individual to wear an ankle GPS monitor (that they’ll have to purchase themselves) in order to track all movement and keep the individual from entering areas that are off-limits, as dictated by their accuser. This could include many areas, and may severely limit the individual’s ability to move about their city or town freely. If the accuser provides the court with appropriate information such that the court finds in favor of the accuser’s wishes, you may be prohibited from being within a few hundred feet of your accuser’s residence (even if you are the owner of that residence), their job site or place of employment, their school, or perhaps a number of other places that they regularly visit.
Imagine the annoyance of heading to your job in the morning, driving directly there, then having to make a giant loop around a particular destination in order to comply with the court order. You begin making the loop but then find your alternate route is taking you past another location on the list you have been ordered to avoid, now you must make another loop. You will essentially have to map out your entire travel route for every drive you take in order to avoid all places on your accuser’s list.
Think it’s not a big deal if you drive a little too close to a designated spot on the list? Think again. If you violate the no-contact order or wander into any of the listed exclusionary zones the court can, and often will, revoke your bond. So if you think driving in a loop around a particular area is annoying, try going back to jail, because if you violate the court’s mandate you could definitely be remanded to jail. No bond equals jail, and most people would agree that the inconvenience of driving out of your way to get to the grocery store is much better than sitting in a jail cell.
Fortunately, our firm’s attorneys have extensive experience in these areas of the law and the court proceedings, court orders, etc. and can often act immediately to modify or even eliminate the terribly troublesome GPS monitoring that is a common condition of an accused individual’s pre-trial release.
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Typical Punishments for Domestic Violence
In the state of Florida, a domestic violence charge is a first-degree misdemeanor and as such a conviction could mandate as much as 1 year in jail or 12 months of probation time. However, if the alleged victim is known to be pregnant, the charge is elevated to a third-degree felony, which carries a stiff penalty of up to 5 years in prison as well as a $5000 fine.
And that’s not all. If the misdemeanor domestic violence conviction delivers a sentence less than 6 months in jail, the court must also require the accused to attend a 26-week batterers intervention program. And it’s important to note that a domestic violence charge can be utilized to possibly elevate a battery conviction to a more severe third-degree felony.
Additionally, if you own a gun, or have interest in them, it should be noted that federal laws stipulate that it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a domestic violence crime to own or purchase firearms of any kind.
The Best Defense Against Domestic Violence Allegations
If you’ve been charged with domestic violence it is always best to get your attorney involved immediately. Early negotiations with the prosecution can sometimes yield beneficial results for the accused. A skilled, experienced attorney will make an effort to work with the prosecution. Presenting a prosecutor with the accused’s offer of their willingness to take anger management classes, perform community service right away, or agree to an extended order of no contact, may satisfy the court and the victim, and pave the way for a better plea offer for the accused.
Domestic violence cases are understandably very emotional, and as time goes on tensions can even increase, which could possibly result in overly exaggerated allegations or an uncooperative alleged victim. Thus, it is always best to have your attorney begin work immediately, to have them negotiate early, and hopefully reach some agreements or settlements, as much as is permitted, before the case drags on and potentially limits the favorable options for the accused party.
It should be stated however that while early negotiation is preferred for many cases, not every case warrants it. In some situations, evidence review may expose that the allegations are completed fabricated or severely exaggerated. And in these cases, it is important to take the deposition of the accuser as well as any responding officers. Additionally, any alleged physical injuries should be evaluated in some manner by a medical expert or similar competent expert, in order to potentially refute their significance or way in which they occurred (as alleged by the accuser).
If a case is based solely upon the alleged victim’s accusations, it is critical for the accused’s defense attorney to undermine the credibility of the accuser. Our firm has handled countless domestic abuse cases and we’ve secured beneficial outcomes again and again for our clients. Don’t let a domestic violence charge turn into a conviction that will ruin so many aspects of your life; contact us and let us immediately get to work defending you and your reputation.
In Florida, Can a Domestic Violence Charge Simply Be Dropped?
Never attempt to speak to an alleged victim about dropping any domestic violence charge. This can be seen by the courts as ‘witness tampering,’ which is a serious crime that carries severe penalties. If you’ve been accused, let your attorney handle everything; your attorney can approach the alleged victim and inquire about the details, what allegedly occurred, and can ask what resolution they hope to achieve. In Florida, many times alleged victims do ask for charges to be dropped, and due to this, there are special procedures in place to consider the alleged victim’s wishes.
In order to have charges dropped, an alleged victim must visit the offices of the state attorney and fill out a ‘drop affidavit’ form. The form has been specially designed, written, and reviewed by knowledgeable advocacy groups to fully explain how domestic violence often increases in severity and frequency as time goes on. And the form mandates a statement that an alleged victim is acting of their own free will, voluntarily, and is not under any threat whatsoever to drop charges.
In addition to the aforementioned, a criminal defense attorney may ask the alleged victim to write a formal statement that explains why they feel charges against the accused should be dropped. This letter can be disclosed to a prosecutor and as such is strong evidence for the defense that could potentially lead to charges being dropped entirely before the case even goes to trial.
Remember that you always have the right to a public defender, so if you can’t afford a private attorney, do yourself a favor and seek out public counsel right away, but never approach an alleged victim regarding the dropping of charges or their possible testimony. As a rule of thumb, it is best to have no contact whatsoever with the alleged victim; let your attorney handle all communication.
When your freedom and reputation is at stake, let the attorneys handle everything; don’t take risks. Our attorneys know how to negotiate every detail of domestic violence cases, and we have a track record that demonstrates our exceptional skill in this area of law.
The Statute of Limitations for Domestic Violence in Florida
The way a crime is classified will have a significant impact on the statute of limitations that pertain to domestic violence charges. For example, a second-degree misdemeanor domestic violence assault would have a 1-year statute of limitations, and a first-degree misdemeanor domestic violence battery would be a 2-year statute of limitations. If there is a third-degree felony for aggravated battery or aggravated assault, then the statute of limitations would then be 3 years. Also note, in the state of Florida, a statute of limitations for any misdemeanor acts of domestic violence (such as a first offense of domestic violence battery) would be 3 years.
The statute of limitations concept was designed to prevent prosecutors from prosecuting an individual for an alleged crime that was committed more than a set number of years in the past. Evidence can deteriorate over time, memories fade, and critical evidence can be misplaced or lost, thus the state recognizes that convictions should be sought and prosecuted within a reasonable window of time.
If you are facing a domestic violence charge of any kind, have been arrested, or even believe that you may be charged or accused in the future, contact our firm and let us get involved on your behalf immediately. Managing your case, and achieving your best potential outcome will require the skill and experience of an attorney firm that is experienced in domestic violence cases, and we have that skill and experience.