A Sarasota domestic violence conviction can put you behind bars. If you have been arrested or face charges for committing violence against a spouse, domestic partner, or family member, expect the prosecution to take the harshest possible stance. In addition to jail or prison time, you face exorbitant monetary fines and a permanent criminal record that will haunt you for life. A conviction could cost you your savings, your home, and possibly custody of your kids.
What Is Domestic Violence in Florida?
Florida Statute § 741.28 defines domestic violence as a criminal act that causes bodily harm to a family member or member of your household. This may involve a parent abusing a child or a child abusing a parent. More often, we think of domestic violence in terms of one spouse or partner abusing the other.
However, there are many different types of relationships that might warrant domestic violence charges. The victim in this type of crime may be your spouse, ex-spouse, anyone related to by blood or marriage, a current or former live-in partner, a roommate, or the parent of your child.
Crimes that fall under the domestic violence statutes include the following.
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated battery
- Sexual assault
- Sexual battery
- Aggravated stalking
- False imprisonment
This is not an exhaustive list, however. Virtually any violent crime listed in the Florida statutes may become domestic violence when it involves a family member, partner, or another member of your household.
The prosecutor will pursue enhanced charges if the victim alleges that you strangled, choked, or otherwise impeded her blood circulation or ability to breathe. Those enhancements call for third-degree felony charges, with a possible prison sentence of up to five years.
What Penalties Might I Face for a Domestic Violence Conviction in Sarasota?
In Sarasota and throughout Florida, domestic violence charges carry the potential for fines and time behind bars.
Even a first offense will cost you $1,000 in fines and put you in jail for as long as 12 months.
The court can also order you to perform community service and place you on supervised probation.
In addition to your jail or prison sentence, you must attend a Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP) that lasts a minimum of 26 weeks. The judge will also likely order you not to have any contact with the victim, even you share parenting duties with the victim. This means that, if she lives in your home, you must find somewhere else to live.
You may also lose important civil liberties, such as the right to own and carry a gun.
Because you cannot have your conviction sealed or expunged from your record, you must live with having a criminal conviction. This information will show up whenever someone runs a background check. This means that potential employers and landlords can reject you in most cases.
Finally, having a domestic violence conviction on your record may cause you to lose custody of your child(ren), now and in the future.
Goldman Wetzel Can Help with Domestic Violence Charges
The sensitive nature of domestic violence in Florida creates a variety of other challenges — challenges that the knowledgeable attorneys at Goldman Wetzel can help with.
Prosecutors take a highly aggressive stance in pursuing domestic violence charges, to the point of filing charges even if the accuser retracts her story and wants to drop the charges.
The Goldman Wetzel domestic violence team understands how you may come to face serious criminal charges as a result of a misunderstanding, communications breakdown, runaway emotions, or even a false accusation.
Florida statutes compel the police to make an arrest, even in the absence of reliable evidence. Often, to diffuse an emotionally charged situation, they will arrest one person simply to separate the parties — especially if one or both have been drinking.
Our team approach to defending you against domestic violence charges allows us to really dive into your case, to uncover every scrap of evidence that we can use in your defense.
We will spend time with you to understand the situation, then we will interview witnesses, examine past police reports and court paperwork, speak to your family and friends, and seek out whatever evidence can help us mount the most effective argument. We pursue every potential weakness in the prosecution’s case against you, including a lack of evidence of injury and conflicts in the accuser’s statements.
In a domestic violence action, the prosecution must meet a high burden of proof. Self-defense, defense of others, and defense of property are all potential strategies we may use on your behalf, to establish reasonable doubt.
Whatever strategies we use for your case, we will choose them carefully based on your unique situation. The team approach allows us to devote twice the resources and double the experience to building your case.
If possible, we will approach the prosecutor before she files charges, and negotiate either for no charges or for reduced charges. If we discover critical weaknesses in the case, we may successfully petition the court for dismissal.
Another option is to propose a diversion program, wherein you agree to voluntarily seek counseling or another type of intervention. This shows the court your sincerity and willingness to take personal responsibility for your actions.
But, if we must go to court, we will be ready to make an impassioned and well-prepared case in your defense. When you trust Goldman Wetzel with your case, you can rest assured that we will be there for you every step of the way, protecting your legal rights and helping you make the best possible decision for your future.
Trust Goldman Wetzel to Handle Your Sarasota Domestic Violence Case
Being charged with domestic violence does not guarantee a conviction.
Before talking to the police, giving a statement, or answering any questions, contact Goldman Wetzel.
We have experience both in the Pinellas County justice system and the State Attorney’s office. This insider’s perspective means that we know how to defend you against these potentially devastating charges. We will fight for your future every step of the way, protecting your legal rights and striving to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
We offer a complimentary consultation, so we can review your case, answer your questions, and help you make informed choices for your future. Call us today to schedule an appointment or speak directly with a domestic violence lawyer in Sarasota: 941-405-5193.