Domestic violence charges can result in imprisonment, fines, a tarnished criminal record, and long-lasting collateral consequences. Florida does not limit domestic violence offenses to those involving people in romantic relationships. Rather, the state lumps all violent crimes against relatives or household members into the category of “domestic violence” and imposes mandatory minimum sentences upon conviction.
If you have been accused of or arrested for of domestic violence, discuss your rights and legal options with our domestic violence lawyers in Clearwater Beach. We can provide counsel and staunch defense to help you make smart decisions when navigating the court system.
Call 727-828-3900 for a free consultation today.
Florida’s Definition of Domestic Violence
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, the state will consider any of the offenses above as domestic violence when the two parties:
- Are relatives that live or have lived together;
- Have a child in common;
- Are spouses or former spouses;
- Have lived together as a family; or
- Are related by blood or marriage and live or have lived together.
Penalties for a Clearwater Beach Domestic Violence Conviction
The court issues significant penalties for those convicted of domestic violence. The punishment depends on the specifics of the crime, the defendant’s criminal record, and other factors, but most offenders can expect:
- Fines, court fees, probation costs, etc.
- A restraining order
- Revocation of some civil liberties, e.g., the right to own a gun
- Order to complete and pay for a Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP), a six-month program monitored by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF)
- Community service
Per Florida Statute § 741.283, domestic violence offenders will also face a mandatory minimum jail sentence that they must serve:
- First offense: 10 days
- Second offense: 15 days
- Third offense: 20 days
The state increases the mandatory minimum sentence by five to 10 days if the offender committed the crime in the presence of a minor age 15 or younger.
Indirect Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction
A domestic violence conviction can cause a host of broad, detrimental consequences. The stain on your permanent record can resurface at the worst times and deter your future.
Any criminal charges on your permanent record can count against you in not only future criminal cases but also civil cases, such as a divorce or custody case.
Employers often reject applicants with violent crimes such as domestic violence on their criminal record. Similarly, offenders who work in certain fields might find themselves facing termination and loss of their professional license.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office will post the details of your arrest and mugshot online and keep a searchable, public record of your case. Domestic violence charges threaten your reputation, community standing, and circle of influence.
Defending Against Domestic Violence Charges
For every domestic violence offense, defendants have access to various valid defenses. The best defense for you depends on the nature of your case and the available evidence. Our attorneys can use several tactics to defend against domestic violence charges. Below are just a few examples of approaches we can take:
- Share initial facts with the court that sways the judge to drop your case;
- Prove you were acting in self-defense or protecting someone else;
- Expose errors or gaps in the state’s case or inconsistencies in the victim’s statements;
- Argue against certain elements of the case, e.g., arguing that the relationship between the two parties does not meet the requirements for domestic violence;
- Capitalizing on errors and infringement of rights made by law enforcement; and
- Highlighting the victim’s motives in cases of exaggerated or false domestic violence allegations.
We know how much depends on the outcome of this case and can help you make informed decisions at each stage of your case. When you work with Goldman Wetzel, we will push for the best possible outcome for your unique circumstances. This might mean getting a dismissal, negotiating a plea bargain for reduced charges and penalties, or presenting a clear, persuasive case in court.
How Our Domestic Violence Lawyers in Clearwater Beach Can Help
The defense attorneys at Goldman Wetzel have over three decades of combined experience helping Floridians in the legal system. We can handle any domestic violence case in Clearwater Beach and throughout Florida.
As a full-service criminal defense firm, we can handle all aspects of your case, from arrest to appeals. Our attorneys work in tandem on each case we accept, pooling our insights and developing comprehensive defense strategies. We will:
- Answer any questions you may have about your charges or legal options;
- Attend the first appearance (if you call us in time) and push for a fair bail;
- Investigate the facts of your case and speak to witnesses;
- Brainstorm defense options and weigh the potential outcomes;
- Explain what you are up against and what to expect each step of the way;
- Obtain character witnesses and paint a favorable profile for the prosecutor or court;
- File appropriate motions that benefit your case;
- Negotiate with the prosecutor when feasible; and
- Prepare for each hearing and attend ready to provide effective representation.