A person accused of domestic violence can face severe penalties that might result in the loss of their freedom, parental rights and more. If you are facing criminal charges, a domestic violence attorney in Tampa will protect your rights in court.
Facing domestic violence charges can be a nerve-racking and overwhelming experience, especially, if you do not know the possible consequences and how to fight these charges. Below, you will find more information about what domestic violence is in Florida and the penalties that this offense carries. To get more specific details about your case, contact our team of criminal lawyers.
What Are Domestic Violence Charges in Florida?
According to Florida law, a criminal action that causes physical harm or results in the death of a household or family member constitutes a domestic violence offense. Some of the crimes associated with domestic violence charges are:
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated battery
- Aggravated stalking
- False imprisonment
- Murder or manslaughter
- Sexual assault
- Sexual battery
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, in 2019, with 85.7% of the reports, simple assault was the most common domestic violence offense.
Even though many people assume that domestic violence only takes place between romantic partners, a person can be charged with domestic violence if the crime was committed against one of the following people:
- Current or former spouse
- Live-in boyfriend/girlfriend (or live-in ex boyfriend/girlfriend)
- People that have a child in common
In Florida, for a crime to be considered domestic violence both parties (the victim and the defendant) must live or have lived together in the past. As an exception, this rule does not apply to people that have a child together. Even if there is no cohabitation, a criminal offense against the other party will still be considered domestic violence.
Penalties for Domestic Violence in Florida
Just like other criminal offenses, the penalties that you can face for domestic violence charges will vary depending on the severity of the offense as well as your past criminal record.
A first offense usually carries first-degree misdemeanor charges. In Florida, misdemeanors can result in a $1,000 fine and up to 12 months in jail, and/or 12 months probation.
If the offense involved aggravating factors, you may face more severe charges. For example, if the incident included strangulation, you will face third-degree felony charges which can result in a maximum $5,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison. In addition to the fines and prison time, a person charged with domestic violence will also be required to complete a 26-week Batterers’ Intervention Program.
When facing domestic violence charges, a defendant might face different penalties that can result in the loss of some civil liberties. In order to obtain the best possible outcome, you need the help of a Tampa domestic violence attorney. Speak to a Goldman Wetzel lawyer to understand your legal options.
What is a Batterer’s Intervention Program?
In a broad definition, a Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP) is an intensive program whose purpose is to treat and identify the root causes of domestic violence and prevent participants from committing similar actions in the future. Overall, a Batterer’s Intervention Program has a length of 26 weeks.
During this program, the attendants will have an initial assessment, orientation and group counseling sessions. If necessary, the providers will determine if the attendant requires another type of help such as substance abuse or mental health treatments.
In domestic violence cases, completing a Batterer’s Intervention Program is required by the law. As a result, the person must attend all the required sessions in order to complete the program. Failing to do this, could result in more severe penalties.
If you are facing charges for domestic violence, call our criminal lawyers for an initial consultation at (888) 727- 4652.
How long do domestic violence charges stay on your record in Florida?
In Florida, domestic violence convictions are not eligible for sealing or expungement. In other words, if a person is found guilty of domestic violence, the charges will always remain on his or her criminal record. However, if the charges are dropped, a person may be able to expunge his or her record.
Having a domestic violence charge on your record can affect an existing or future divorce procedure, especially, if there are children involved. In addition to this, a repeat offender might face more severe penalties despite the outcome of the previous domestic violence case.
What is a Domestic Violence Injunction in Florida?
In Florida, a domestic violence injunction is a legal document whose purpose is to protect the victims of domestic violence. It directs the alleged abuser not to have any type of contact with the alleged victim of domestic violence. A domestic violence injunction is also known as a restraining order.
According to the law, in order to file a petition for a domestic violence injunction, the person should either be a victim of domestic violence or have reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence.
Once the petition is filed, the judge will assess the allegations. If the the injunction is granted, the respondent (the person who the injunction is filed against) will be required to:
- Have no contact with the person filing the restraining order (petitioner)
- Leave their shared residence
- Surrender her or his firearms
- Stay away from the petitioner’s house and work
- Grant the temporary custody of children
If a household or family member filed a domestic violence injunction against you, you should follow the directions outlined in the document. If you do not follow the court order, you might be charged with a violation of domestic violence injunction.
Violating a restraining order is charged as a misdemeanor. As a result, you might face up to 1 year of jail/probation and a maximum fine of $1,000. The penalties and charges can be more severe for repeat offenders.
How long does a domestic violence injunction last in Florida?
If the petitioner provides enough evidence that proves that he or she is a victim of domestic violence, the judge might grant a Temporary Injunction. This type of restraining order is valid for 15 days.
The temporary injunction will also provide the respondent with a date for a court hearing. During this hearing, based on the evidence and testimonies provided by both parties, the judge will decide whether to grant a Final Injunction. In this case, the length of the injunction will be determined by the judge.
The length of a domestic violence injunction varies depending on each case. A final injunction can deprive people from some of their basic and parental rights. Therefore, consider retaining aggressive legal representation that helps you tell your side of the story to the court.
The criminal attorneys at Goldman Wetzel have extensive experience defending clients with restraining orders. If you want to know more about the specifics of your case and how to fight an injunction, contact our Tampa domestic violence lawyers.
Defenses Against Domestic Violence Charges
In Florida, law enforcement officers and prosecutors take domestic violence offenses very seriously. In fact, the State Attorney will likely file charges even if your spouse, partner, or family member recants the allegation and does not wish to prosecute.
Our attorneys understand that a domestic violent report can result in severe consequences for the alleged abuser. Some of the defenses that our Tampa domestic attorneys might use in your case include:
- No violence occurred: Spouses may argue over money, parenting, infidelity, or other relationship issues. Ex-partners may clash over divorce or child custody matters. In some cases, these verbal, non-physical, arguments can cause neighbors to call the police.
- Self-defense: In other cases, your partner may have substance abuse problems or anger issues, potentially requiring you to take steps to defend yourself. We consider the possibility, not only of self-defense, but the defense of others or defense of property.
- False Accusations: Specifically, we look for red flags such as a lack of injury, a lack of corroborating evidence, or contradictory witness statements. In these cases, our legal team might be able to prove that the incident never took place and that you were wrongly accused.
Even though these are common defenses against domestic violence charges, your attorney needs to assess your case and find the best legal representation for your specific situation. Just like with any other case, you should contact a criminal lawyer as soon as possible.
In some cases, the experienced attorneys from Goldman Wetzel can often intervene before the state files charges, and argue to have any false accusations dismissed. Depending on the evidence we uncover, our legal team might be able to negotiate for a lesser charge or suggest a voluntary diversion program.
TLC Counseling Services: A court-approved provider that offers different programs and services required by the court such as Batterer’s Intervention Program, anger management, mental health evaluations, and more. They offer onsite and online services.
Hillsborough County Clerk: Provides court, jury, and traffic services. For victims of domestic violence, they provide information and forms to file an injunction for protection. Additionally, it offers access to court reports.
The Spring of Tampa Bay: Provides help to victims of domestic violence in Hillsborough County. Among their services, they offer a 24-hour crisis hotline, free legal representation, support groups, emergency shelter, and transitional housing.
Florida Courts: Offers forms and further details about the Florida legal system. For domestic violence cases, they provide information about how to file injunctions and different providers of Batterer’s Intervention programs.
Florida Department of Children and Families: It offers information and support for different family matters such as adoption, child welfare, refugee services, and domestic violence. As a part of their services, they have a domestic violence hotline and legal information.
Contact a Domestic Violence Attorney in Tampa
Facing domestic violence charges can have a negative effect on both your personal and professional life. In addition to having a permanent criminal record, you might also face severe penalties.
Goldman Wetzel is a law firm that defends clients accused of domestic violence charges in Tampa, Brandon, Sarasota, Hillsborough County, and surrounding areas.
If you are accused of a domestic violence offense, you have a short amount of time to prepare your defense and avoid harsh penalties. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our domestic violence attorneys. Contact us through our email form or call us at (888) 727-4652.