Florida officials have little tolerance for domestic violence offenses, and the court imposes harsh penalties (including a mandatory minimum jail sentence) on defendants convicted of domestic violence-related crimes. Moreover, because Florida subscribes to a very broad definition of domestic violence, a large number of offenses fall under that umbrella. Defendants facing offenses categorized as domestic violence face not only severe penalties but also the social stigma that comes with crimes of that nature.
If you have been arrested for domestic violence, speak to our domestic violence lawyers in Clearwater about your case as soon as possible. We can explain how to best approach your situation and guide you through the court process while protecting your interests. Call 727-828-3900 and request a free consultation today.
Florida’s Broad 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.
The statutes clarify the term “family or household member” as:
Spouses, 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, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.
In other words, when the victim and the alleged offender are partners, related, or household members, the state will classify any violent offense as domestic violence.
Consequences of Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic violence defendants face significant penalties and consequences if convicted. The punishments the court doles out depend on the exact charges, the specifics of the crime, and the defendant’s criminal history.
Some potential ramifications of a domestic violence conviction include:
- Community control (probation)
- An injunction (no-contact or restraining order)
- Loss of liberties (e.g., the right to own firearms)
- Mandatory completion of a 26-week batterer’s intervention program
- Community service
A domestic violence charge can also have a far-reaching negative impact on seemingly unrelated aspects of your life. It can thwart a divorce or child custody case, impede your profession and any future work opportunities, and damage your personal and community reputation. Protect your future. Enlist the help of our Clearwater defense attorneys to combat your charges.
Mandatory Minimum Jail Sentence for Domestic Violence Conviction
As of 2017, Florida imposes longer mandatory minimum jail sentences on anyone convicted of domestic violence. The revised statute, Florida Statute § 741.283, provides the following minimums for domestic violence convictions:
- First Offense: 10 days in the county jail;
- Second Offense: 15 days; and
- Third or Subsequent Offense: 20 days.
If the offender committed the crime in the presence of a child under the age of 16, the state increases the minimum jail sentences to 15 days for a first offense, 20 for the second, and 30 for the third.
Defenses to Domestic Violence
Various defenses can effectively negate domestic violence charges. For example, perhaps the victim-defendant relationship does not meet the state’s definition of “family or household member.” The prosecutor has the burden to prove every element of the crime existed. We can argue that because the parties were not kin or partners, domestic violence did not occur.
Similarly, because bodily injury is a critical component of domestic violence charges, if the state lacks evidence of injuries on the victim, the prosecutor cannot substantiate their case.
Other defenses to domestic violence include:
- You were acting in self-defense;
- The altercation was mutual;
- The act was consensual;
- False allegations;
- The victim had ulterior motives to allege domestic violence (e.g., custody leverage or revenge); and
- You were protecting someone else from harm.
Some domestic violence cases arise due to fabricated, one-sided, or exaggerated accusations; retaliation; or leverage. Fortunately, Florida law protects not only domestic violence victims, but also those wrongly accused of the crime. When you work with Goldman Wetzel, we will craft a robust and well-founded defense strategy and present your side of the story in a clear and favorable light.
How Our Domestic Violence Lawyers Can Help
Our criminal defense lawyers have over 30 combined years of experience helping defendants successfully navigate the criminal justice system in Florida. We know the ins and outs of the law, the most effective defense strategies, and the tendencies of the prosecution team and judges in Pinellas County.
We can help with every aspect of a domestic violence case, from the investigation phase or arrest, through pre-trial and the hearing, and until the case concludes. Our lawyers, Summer Goldman and Maribeth Wetzel, collaborate on each case our firm accepts.
- Explain your legal rights, how to exercise them, and what to expect at each stage of the case;
- Tell you your legal options and the potential outcome of each;
- Represent you at all hearings;
- Investigate your case and gather evidence;
- Identify and expose weaknesses in the state’s case;
- Brainstorm the most advantageous way to handle your case;
- Keep you informed of the status of your case and any new developments;
- Create and carry out a plan to get the best possible outcome, be it dropped charges, a plea bargain, an acquittal, or at least reduced charges and penalties.
Free Consult with a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Clearwater
With domestic violence charges, your freedom, reputation, and future hang in the balance. Let our defense team at Goldman Wetzel protect you from these charges. Call our office at 727-828-3900 for a free consult with one of our lawyers in Clearwater.