The state of Florida has a very broad definition of domestic violence. Any act of harm — or even the threat of harm — on another household member can be domestic violence and can lead to arrest, incarceration, and other penalties.
While the state should protect genuine victims of domestic violence, the reality is that many of these charges arise from false accusations, exaggerations, or spite. If you have been accused of or arrested for a domestic violence-related offense, speak to our domestic violence lawyers in Bradenton at Goldman Wetzel about your case. We can help protect your rights and fight the charges brought against you.
If you enlist in our help at the onset, we may even be able to sway the state to dismiss the case before the prosecutor even formally files charges. Call 941-405-5193 for a free consultation with our domestic violence team.
How Does Florida Define Domestic Violence?
Florida Statute § 741.28(2) defines domestic violence as “any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”
This includes an array of offenses, including:
- Assault and battery
- Aggravated assault and aggravated battery
- Sexual battery
- Stalking and aggravated stalking
- Child abuse
- False imprisonment
- Murder and manslaughter
The state will categorize any act that causes harm on others as domestic violence or domestic battery when the alleged victim and defendant are family or household members. According to the statute, any of the following fit this description:
- Former spouses
- Persons 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
- Persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married
I Was Wrongfully Accused of Domestic Violence. What Should I Do?
Many innocent people are accused of domestic violence. Our defense attorneys have represented people who have been indicted on domestic violence charges even though there was very little evidence to support the allegations. These cases often pop up during divorce and custody battles, as a result of fights between family members or roommates, or when a spiteful ex wants revenge.
Also, Florida is one of the states that does not require the alleged victim’s permission to pursue charges against the aggressor. So, the officer can arrest you even if the facts of situation are not fully clear and the other involved party does not want to press charges.
If you have been arrested for domestic violence, the first thing you should do is tell the officer you wish you to have your attorney present. (You can call Goldman Wetzel at 941-405-5193 and request immediate assistance.) Do not submit to questioning without having first spoken with your lawyer or you could inadvertently say something that could harm your case.
When we meet with you, we will discuss your legal options and get to work on your defense. We can gather evidence, speak to witnesses, and develop a strategy that best suits your case. Sometimes we may be able to speak to the alleged victim to see if s/he really wants the state to pursue charges. Victims’ consent is not mandatory, but a lack of consent could impact the state’s decision.
Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to talk to the prosecutor early on and either get the case dropped or negotiate a deal for lesser charges. If we present factual defenses or mitigating circumstances in the early stages, it can greatly impact the state’s intention to go forward with the charges.
What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence?
The potential penalties for domestic violence depend on numerous factors. The nature of the offense, whether there were any aggravating factors, and your criminal history will all play a role.
Some domestic violence cases constitute misdemeanors, while others constitute felonies. The prosecutors that manage these types of cases take them very seriously. Convictions can mean:
- Jail time
- Restraining orders (no-contact orders)
- Restricted time with your children
- Mandatory counseling and anger management classes
- Community service
- Loss of civil liberties (e.g., the right to vote, the right to possess a firearm, etc.)
Moreover, having a conviction on your record poses challenges for years to come. It can affect your career, college opportunities, professional licensing, ability to rent a home, and reputation. Avoiding a conviction would be the best scenario. Retain an attorney as soon as possible so she can get started on your case. We always get involved immediately to give your case the best chance of a positive outcome.
What Kinds of Defenses Work for Domestic Violence Cases?
There are lots of ways we can approach a domestic violence case. Much depends on the details of the situation. Some of the defenses that may be useful include the following:
- Lack of evidence, e.g., there are no injuries, no witness testimonies, etc.
- Factual disputes about the event
- The incident does not meet the state’s definition of domestic violence
- The alleged victim has ulterior motives (e.g., custody battle, defamation, etc.)
- You were acting in self-defense.
- You were defending your property or someone else (i.e., Stand Your Ground law).
- The act was consensual.
- It was a mutual altercation.
Get a Legal Team with Experience on Both Sides of the Aisle. Call Us.
Our attorneys have helped people accused of all types of felony and misdemeanor offenses in Bradenton, including domestic violence and injunction violations. Our team of lawyers work together on each case we accept at Goldman Wetzel, covering all the bases and providing you with excellent representation and legal counsel you can trust.
We know how important the result of your case is and how much is on the line. Attorneys Maribeth Wetzel and Summer Goldman have over 30 years of combined experience in the legal field and an arsenal of effective defenses and tactics. And because our attorneys have experience both defending and prosecuting, we know how the other side operates.
Let us go to work for you. If you have been accused of domestic violence in Bradenton, call our office at 941-405-5193 and request a free consultation today.