In 2014, over 64,000 people were arrested on domestic violence charges in Florida, according to the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV). Many of these incidents sprout from alcohol-fueled altercations, unmanaged anger issues, or simply family arguments that have gotten out of hand. Domestic violence is a complicated area of the law because it involves both personal and criminal matters. Below, we discuss the kinds of relationships that warrant domestic violence charges and the steps to take if you are facing charges.
How does the State of Florida define domestic violence?
Domestic violence is not a specific offense, per se, but rather a class of crimes. Florida Statute § 741.28(2) defines domestic violence as “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.”
In other words, domestic violence is a classification used to modify other offenses. When the charge, e.g., assault and battery, stalking, etc., is domestic violence, not only is it an offense unto itself, but the state may also invoke additional statutes regarding penalties. One of the main differences between charges labeled as domestic violence and those that are not is that when it is a domestic violence offense, the statutes mandate minimum sentencing requirements.
What types of relationships warrant domestic violence charges?
In order for the police or prosecutor to classify the crime under domestic violence, the victim and the defendant typically either must live together or have lived together in the past. There is an exception, though. If the parties have a child together, it can still be domestic violence, even if they do not cohabitate. Also, domestic violence is not exclusive to romantic partners; it can involve any household or family members, including siblings and grandparents.
You may face domestic violence charges if the relationship was any of the following:
- Spouse or former spouse
- Live-in boyfriend/girlfriend or ex-boyfriend/girlfriend
- Current or ex-boyfriend/girlfriend with whom the victim has a child in common, irrespective of whether they ever lived together
- Children, stepchildren, adopted children
- Any other household members that are “related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family, or who have resided together in the past as if a family”
The state will not consider arguments or abuse between people that are not married, do not have children together, and have never lived together domestic violence.
What do I do if I have been charged with domestic violence?
If you are facing domestic violence charges, your first priority is to contact a St. Petersburg attorney from Goldman Wetzel today. Domestic violence charges have very serious implications, and we will need to start working on your defense right away. We can review the case and evidence, explain your rights and options, and then build your defense.
Contact our office today to get started: 727-828-3900.