Domestic Violence LawyersFighting Florida Criminal Charges for You
Florida domestic violence charges are serious business. If you have been charged with a domestic violence crime, it is in your best interest to talk with an experienced domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible.
What is Domestic Violence?
Under Florida law, several different crimes may be charged as domestic violence if the alleged victim is a family member or member of the accused’s household. These crimes include:
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated battery
- Sexual assault
- Sexual battery
- Aggravated stalking
- False imprisonment
In addition to this specific list, any criminal offense that results in physical injury or death of a family or household member may be charged as domestic violence.
Who is a Family or Household Member under Florida Domestic Violence Law?
When you hear “domestic violence,” it’s normal to think of spousal abuse, or perhaps child abuse. However, in Florida, the definition of domestic violence is much broader. People included in the Florida definition of “family or household member” include:
- Former spouses
- Any persons related by blood who live together or previously lived together in the same household
- Any persons related by marriage who live together or previously lived together in the same household
- Any persons living together as a family
- Any persons who have lived together as a family in the past
- Any persons who have a child in common, even if they have never been married or lived together
If any of these conditions is met, then the crimes listed above and other crimes resulting in injury or death may be charged as domestic violence crimes.
Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction
In order to be convicted of criminal domestic violence, a person must be found to have committed an underlying crime against a family or household member. However, the consequences of being convicted of a crime of domestic violence may be different and more serious than the consequences of a conviction for the underlying crime only.
For example, Florida law requires the court to order participation in a batterer’s intervention program, and mandates at least one year of probation for anyone convicted of a domestic violence crime. In addition, certain domestic violence crimes carry mandatory minimum jail sentences, even if the underlying crime itself does not carry a mandatory minimum.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Domestic Violence Crimes
A person who has intentionally caused bodily harm to another person and is convicted of a crime of domestic violence must serve a minimum of 10 days in the county jail for a first offense. The minimum increases to 15 days for a second defense and 20 days for a third or additional offense.
If the crime occurs in the presence of a child under the age of 16 who is a family or household member, the minimum sentence for a first offense is 15 days, and increases to 20 days for a second offense and 30 days for a third or subsequent offense.
It’s important to note that these terms are only minimums. Depending on the specifics of the crime, a crime of domestic violence may be a misdemeanor or a felony. Even misdemeanor charges may carry a sentence of up to 12 months in jail, and a felony conviction could mean years in prison. There may also be indirect consequences as well. For example, federal law prohibits many people convicted of domestic violence crimes from possessing or purchasing firearms, even if the conviction was a misdemeanor. And Florida law prohibits Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) from issuing a Certificate of Eligibility to Seal a record if one pleads guilty or no content to a domestic crime, even if adjudication is withheld.
Domestic Violence Injunctions
Anyone who has been the victim of domestic violence, or who reasonably fears that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence, can petition for an Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence. There is no filing fee for this petition.
The court may enter a temporary injunction without a hearing, to remain in effect until the scheduled hearing date. When a temporary injunction is entered on this basis, a hearing must be scheduled within 15 days.
The respondent is not required to be represented by an attorney, but there’s a lot at stake. Injunctions for Protection against Domestic Violence may reach far beyond restraining one party from harming the other. For example, the Injunction may include an order:
- Granting the petitioner temporary exclusive possession of a home where both parties normally reside;
- Creating a temporary parenting plan, including the possibility of a plan that gives petitioner 100% of parenting time for the duration of the order;
- Requirements that the respondent participate in treatment or counseling, at his or her own expense;
- Establishing temporary child support
Therefore, if you have been served with notice of a hearing on an Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence, or are in need of protection against Domestic Violence, it’s smart to get advice from an experienced Jacksonville injunction attorney right away.
Violation of a Domestic Violence Injunction is a Crime
Violation of an Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence can itself carry serious consequences. First, a person who violates a court order may be held in contempt of court. Second, violation of the injunction is a separate crime–a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.
Protecting Yourself against Domestic Violence Charges
Whether you’ve been charged with a domestic violence crime, have been served with notice of a hearing on an Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence, or have been accused of violating a domestic violence injunction, the outcome could have a significant, and long-lasting impact on your life. In addition to the potential for jail time and a criminal record, a domestic violence conviction or entry of an injunction can affect your employment options, prevent you from visiting your own home, impact your access to your children, and more.
Give yourself the benefit of a knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated advocate. The attorneys at Johnson and Lufrano, P.A. offer free consultations so people facing criminal charges or injunctions can gather the information they need to make good decisions.