Whether you or a loved one has been arrested or are under investigation for domestic violence, it is critical to consult with an experienced Miami domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. You need the counsel of an experienced lawyer to guide you through the process and maximize your chances of resolving your case with a favorable outcome.
What is Domestic Violence?
There are a great number of situations and relationships which can qualify as domestic violence under Florida law. They all, however, share a common element relating to violence or harm allegedly committed by the accused against a person whom they are closely related to or intimate with (or have been intimate with in the past).
Domestic Violence Under Florida Law
Florida law defines domestic violence as any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other criminal offense resulting in injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.
“Family or household member” means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently living together as if a family or who have lived together in the past as if a family and persons who are parents of a child together regardless of whether they have been married or lived together.
The vast majority of domestic violence cases are misdemeanor battery cases where a spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend, is charged with battering their significant other. Oftentimes, the contact can be minimal—there is no requirement that the victim be harmed in any way. In fact, any contact that happens in a tense situation or conflict with a close family member—even if it involves very little force and no harm, like a push—can be charged as domestic violence.
More serious domestic violence cases can be charged as felonies.
An alleged victim can also seek a civil injunction based on domestic violence. There is no requirement that the alleged victim call the police to report a crime, however, it is not uncommon for a person facing a domestic violence charge to also be served with an injunction.
Pretrial Release and Stay-Away Orders
Unlike most misdemeanors, a person arrested for misdemeanor domestic violence cannot be immediately released from jail. Florida law requires a defendant to be held in jail until he or she is brought before a judge for their first-appearance hearing At this hearing, the judge will determine bail and the conditions of the defendant’s release. The court is required to consider the safety of the alleged victim, the alleged victim’s children, and the safety of any other person who may be in danger if the defendant is released. A standard condition of release in all domestic violence cases is a stay-away order from the victim, also known as the “protected person.”
A stay-away order prohibits a defendant from having any contact with the protected person and protected members of a victim’s family. This means in-person contact as well any form of communication whatsoever. If the alleged victim send you a text message, for example, and you reply back, you could be arrested for violating the order. You would also violate the order if you came within 500 feet of the protected person’s house, job or school, etc. The order also makes it illegal for you to knowingly come within 100 feet of the protected person’s car.
WE HAVE SUCCESSFULLY DEFENDED HUNDREDS OF DV CASES
Sometimes, at the first-appearance hearing the judge will consider modifying the stay-away order at the alleged victim’s request. If the judge finds that good cause has been shown and the interests of justice require that contact should be permitted, the order will be changed to allow the defendant to have peaceful non-violent contact with the protected person and/or children. If the stay-away order isn’t modified at the first-appearance hearing, the judge assigned to the case can still modify the order at a later hearing.
Possible Punishments for a Domestic Violence Conviction
A conviction for domestic violence can have serious consequences. A felony domestic violence conviction could result in a years long state prison sentence. A felony, as well as a misdemeanor conviction, can become a permanent part of your public record and can interfere with future employment, housing, and custody matters. If you are a non-US citizen, a domestic violence conviction of any kind can have dire consequences on your immigration status. Whether you are convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor the conviction may require a jail sentence, fine, and probation.
Direct Consequences of a Conviction
- Up to one (1) year in jail
- 5 day minimum mandatory jail sentence if the victim suffered bodily injury (§741.283, Florida Statutes)
- Up to one (1) year of probation
- Up to a $1,000 fine
- No contact/stay away order
Indirect Consequences of a Conviction
- Can affect ability to own or carry firearms
- Disqualification from certain types of employment (e.g., teaching, public safety, health, child care, social services)
- Negatively impact immigration
- Negative credit factor
- Difficulties in obtaining housing (background checks)
- Negative effects in family court proceedings relating to children
- Bar from military service
Expungement or Sealing
Florida law prevents a person who is found guilty of any domestic-related crime of violence from sealing or expunging their record, regardless of whether their adjudication is withheld (§741.28, Florida Statutes).
This means that even if you plead no contest and the judge does not formally convict you (withholds adjudication), the case will be on your permanent record. Unfortunately, the law does not provide any exceptions.
Contact an Experienced Miami Domestic Violence Attorney
If you or a loved one are facing a domestic violence charge it is crucial for you to be represented by an experienced Miami domestic violence attorney in order to minimize the chances of a conviction. You need someone to tell your side of the story in a way that shows you aren’t guilty. And even if you are guilty, you need to make sure that the consequences are minimized as much as possible.
Over the years, we have successfully represented hundreds of domestic violence clients by obtaining dismissals, not guilty verdicts, or by reducing a charge to a less serious offense. There is a good chance that we have dealt with a case very similar to yours and have represented clients who shared similar needs and concerns that you may have. Feel free to browse through the results section of our site for a representative sample of some of our past cases, and the results we have achieved for our clients.
By taking the immediate action of hiring an experienced Miami domestic violence lawyer to defend yourself, you are minimizing the chances that your domestic violence case will have lasting consequences for your career, personal life, and reputation. CALL US NOW for a CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION at securely encrypted intake form. The additional details you provide will greatly assist us in responding to your inquiry., or simply take a moment to fill out our
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