Is Domestic Battery a Felony in Florida?

In most cases in Florida, domestic battery is not a felony. Simple domestic battery is a first-degree misdemeanor. While you might think a misdemeanor is no big deal, the charges, social stigma, and associated penalties you face are no joke.
If you have been arrested or are currently facing domestic battery charges, consult with the St. Petersburg domestic violence lawyers at Goldman Wetzel as soon as possible to protect your legal rights: 727-828-3900.

What Is Domestic Battery?

A subsection of domestic violence, domestic battery refers to actual physical contact without that person’s consent or with the intention of causing bodily harm. Family members or “members of the household” can be domestic battery victims.
Per Florida Statute § 741.28, “family member” and “member of the household” may mean any of the following:

  • Current or former spouse
  • Biological or adopted family member
  • Family member by marriage (in law)
  • Current cohabitant
  • Former cohabitant
  • Person with whom you share a child

Once the police receive a domestic battery call, they will make an arrest and take you to jail. This holds true even if your accuser changes her mind by the time the police arrive.

What Penalties Will I Face for Domestic Battery?

Although simple domestic battery usually only carries first-degree misdemeanor charges, you might have to:

  • Spend up to a year in jail;
  • Pay surcharges of $151 or $201; and
  • Pay up to a $1,000 fine

In addition to the monetary fines and jail time, you must also complete a one-year Batterers’ Intervention Program (BIP) and serve a full year of probation. The judge may also assess community service and enforce a no-contact order, even if the alleged victim lives in a home you own or co-parents a child with you.
If you have a prior conviction for this crime, the prosecutor can charge you with felony domestic battery. Upon conviction, you face:

  • A $5,000 fine
  • Up to five years in prison

Note: People arrested on domestic battery charges cannot post bond until after their initial appearance before the judge. Depending on the day and time of your arrest, you may sit in jail for a day or more until you can go before a judge to enter a plea.

Will the Courts Expunge a Domestic Battery Conviction?

No. While the courts can seal your record or expunge most non-felony convictions, this is not the case with a domestic abuse conviction.
Upon conviction for this crime (regardless of whether the charge was a misdemeanor or felony), the charges will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life.
With this conviction on your record, employers and landlords may decline your application. You may never be able to obtain professional licensure or win custody of your own children. You will also lose your right to own or possess a firearm.

Can I Get the Charges Dropped?

Getting the charges dropped for domestic battery is often difficult. While the alleged victim can change her mind and decline to press charges, in many cases, the courts will go forward with the case anyway.
However, we get involved early and attempt to discuss your case with the prosecutor before he has the chance to file charges. We ensure he knows who you are so he can think of you as something other than “just another criminal.” If the alleged victim wants to drop charges, we can interview her to determine exactly what happened. We might argue that the charges are the result of a misunderstanding or simple mistake that will not happen again.

What Defenses Might I Be Able to Use Against Domestic Battery Charges?

If you currently face domestic battery charges, do not respond to questioning or enter a plea until you have consulted the St. Petersburg domestic battery lawyers at Goldman Wetzel. It is imperative that you understand the true consequences of entering a guilty or no contest plea — something the prosecutor is unlikely to explain to you.

Summer Goldman and Maribeth Wetzel take a team approach to criminal defense. They work together on every case and provide proactive legal representation to help achieve the best possible outcome.
We will examine your case to determine the best outcome for your case. This might include:

  • Arguing self-defense or defense of others
  • Proving the allegation was false
  • Showing that you were the actual victim, not the alleger
  • Proving accidental contact

By using these defenses, we might be able to plead your case from a felony to a misdemeanor or persuade the prosecutor to drop the charges entirely. Contact Goldman Wetzel today to schedule an appointment for a complimentary consultation: 727-828-3900.