A charge for domestic violence can result in severe penalties that can have serious impacts on your life and your rights. In order to protect your interests and achieve a favorable outcome, a domestic violence attorney in Pinellas County will provide you with a strong defense that protects your criminal record and future.
If you are facing domestic violence charges, you might need legal representation. Based on the facts of your case, our domestic violence lawyers might find a way to reduce your charges or have them dropped altogether. Contact us today to book a free consultation.
What is Domestic Violence in Florida?
In Florida, domestic violence is the offense of causing or threatening to cause physical harm to a family or household member. Domestic violence might also include emotional, mental, and psychological abuse. The penalties for these crimes will depend on the severity of the offense.
Although in some cases a domestic violence offense is very similar to a violent crime, there is a major difference between these two types of offenses. In domestic violence, there is a relationship between the victim and the offender while a violent crime can be perpetrated on an unknown person.
According to Florida § 741.28(2), a family or household member include:
- Current and former spouses
- People with children in common
- Family members related by blood that live or lived together
- People cohabitating as a family
- Dating relationship
Different Types of Domestic Violence Cases in Florida
As previously established, a domestic violence crime implies harming or threatening to harm a family member. Many different crimes can fall into the broad category of domestic violence if the relationship defined above exists between the offender and the victim.
Some of the most common cases that the St. Petersburg domestic violence attorneys from Goldman Wetzel handle include:
- Aggravated and simple assault
- Child abuse
- False imprisonment
- Sexual battery
- Threat or intimidation
If you have been accused of committing one of these crimes during an altercation, you may face domestic violence charges that can result in severe penalties. In order to protect your record and rights, you might need the help of an experienced criminal attorney.
Domestic Violence Statistics in Pinellas County
Domestic violence offenses are taken very seriously in Florida. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, in 2019, there were 105,298 domestic violence offenses reported across all Florida. 5.7% of those reports took place in Pinellas County, while the County only constitutes 4.5% of Florida residents.
Out of the 6,042 domestic violence related crimes reported in Pinellas County, almost 85% of them were simple assault offenses.
With over 10%, aggravated assault was the second most reported domestic violence offense.
What Charges Can You Get for Domestic Violence in Florida?
Just like any other crime, in Florida, the penalties for a domestic violence offense will depend on the severity of the offense, the presence of aggravating factors and whether the alleged offender has a previous record of domestic crimes.
Some common aggravating factors that could increase your charges include:
- Severity of the victim’s injuries
- Lack of remorse
- Type of victim (spouse, child, elderly person)
- Use of a deadly weapon
- Offender with multiple prior convictions
In Florida, domestic battery is charged as a misdemeanor. This means that the offender might face up to 1 year of jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. Moreover, domestic battery charges might also result in additional penalties that include:
- 10 days in the county jail (if the person is guilty and there was bodily injury)
- Additional community service hours
- Possible loss of concealed carry rights
- 1 year of probation
- Attend and complete a Batterer’s Intervention Program
A stalking offense can also be charged as a misdemeanor as long as there are not aggravating circumstances. In this case, the offender may face up to 1 year of jail or a maximum $1,000 fine.
Are domestic charges a felony?
In Florida, domestic crimes can be charged as felonies if aggravating circumstances were involved in the offense. Some domestic cases that can be prosecuted as felonies include:
|Circumstances||Type of Felony||Maximum Imprisonment||Maximum Fine|
|– Domestic violence by strangulation||Third-degree||5 years||$5,000|
|– False imprisonment||Third-degree||5 years||$5,000|
|– Aggravated stalking||Third-degree||5 years||$5,000|
|– Aggravated battery on a pregnant woman||Second-degree||15 years||$10,000|
|– Aggravated domestic battery with severe injuries||Second-degree||15 years||$10,000|
|– Aggravated domestic battery with use of a deadly weapon||Second-degree||15 years||$10,000|
Domestic violence charges can affect a person’s life and freedom. The best way to get a positive outcome for your case is hiring an experienced criminal attorney. Book a free consultation with our domestic violence attorneys in Pinellas County.
Common Defenses Against Domestic Violence Charges
While the St. Petersburg criminal attorneys from Goldman Wetzel build a strong defense for each client based on the facts of their individual case, there are some defenses we commonly use to fight domestic violence charges. These are effective strategies that allow us to ensure the charges against you have as little impact as possible on your future and daily life.
Some of the defenses that we might use for your case include:
- Lack of evidence: the State Attorney’s office must present proof you committed a crime. If you were accused, but there is no evidence to back up the allegation, we can try to convince the prosecutor to dismiss the case as soon as possible.
- False accusations: in some cases, the alleged victim might report domestic violence with the sole purpose of hurting the other party. This is very common in divorce or child custody procedures. If you were wrongly accused, your criminal lawyer will prepare a defense to prove that the offense never happened.
- Self-defense or defense of others: in some situations, your domestic battery lawyer might be able to prove that the use of force was justified because you or someone else was in danger. As a result, the offense occurred because you were protecting yourself or others.
- Consent: depending on the circumstances of your case, a strategy could consist of proving that the acts occurred with the other party’s consent. If there was consent, the domestic charges will need to be dropped.
How to prove false domestic violence charges in Florida?
Many alleged offenders might be wrongly accused of committing domestic violence. Sometimes, people face charges because of a verbal argument with a family member and was observed by concerned neighbors. In some cases, a former partner might have different reasons to hurt the other party.
In order to prove that the accusations are false, the defendant might need to collect witnesses and evidence that show that the incident did not take place or was exaggerated. Some examples of evidence might include medical records and alibis that explain where the alleged offender was at the time of the incident.
Since domestic violence does not always imply the use of physical force, it might be difficult to prove your innocence on your own, especially if you are not familiar with the law and the strategies that you can use for your defense. As a result, you may want to seek legal representation from a domestic violence attorney in Pinellas County that can help you build a strong defense for your case.
David Swindall: They provide marriage and family therapy as well as domestic violence intervention in Pinellas County.
CASA: Provides support for victims of domestic violence in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County. Among their services, they offer temporary shelter, legal counsel as well as other resources to prevent and fight domestic violence.
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office: Offer assistance for victims of domestic violence. On top of providing helpful information, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has a 24/7 crisis intervention line.
Hope Villages of America: Provides help for domestic violence victims. In addition to providing emergency shelter, they also have a 24/7 hotline as well as a safety planning program where they can help victims to create an escape plan.
Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller: Offers resources and information about domestic violence and forms to file an injunction for protection. It also provides records and court-related information.
Contact a Domestic Violence Attorney in Pinellas County, FL
Goldman Wetzel is a criminal law firm that represents individuals facing domestic violence charges in Pinellas County, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Pinellas Park, and surrounding areas.
If you are facing or have been arrested for domestic charges, contact our St. Petersburg domestic violence attorneys for a free, no-obligation consultation. Send us a secure message via our email form or call at 727-828-3900.