Miami Domestic Violence Lawyer
Whether you or a loved one has been arrested or is under investigation for domestic violence allegations by law enforcement, it is critical to consult with an experienced Miami domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible. A conviction for domestic violence charges can severely impact your life, from your ability to secure housing to your employment, your ability to carry a firearm, and your reputation. If you are not a U.S. citizen, a domestic violence conviction can even lead to deportation or make you ineligible for citizenship and reentry. You need a domestic violence attorney with the experience to guide you through the process and maximize your chances of resolving your case with a favorable outcome. You need to ensure that your rights are protected. With so much at stake, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend against a domestic violence charge, not a family law lawyer.
What is Domestic Violence?
Although most people think of spousal abuse, many situations and relationships can qualify as domestic violence crimes (DV crimes) under Florida law. However, they all share a common element relating to physical abuse or bodily harm allegedly committed by the accused against a person they are closely related to or intimate with (or have been intimate with in the past). Emotional abuse and verbal abuse are not considered DV. At the same time, When the alleged domestic abuse is committed by an adult against a child, however, it is usually charged as child abuse.
Domestic Violence Charges Under Florida Law
Florida domestic violence law defines a domestic violence offense 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 physical 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.
Domestic Violence Arrests
Under Florida Statute 741.29, a police officer may arrest and charge a person if there is probable cause that they committed domestic violence. Other times, one person will call 911 in the heat of an altercation but not want the police to arrest their loved one once they arrive. Florida law, however, states that the victim’s consent or the relationship between the parties will not be considered when deciding to arrest and charge. When both parties in a domestic violence case complain to the police, it is the officers’ responsibility to determine the primary aggressor. 741.29 states that “arrest is the preferred response only with respect to the primary aggressor and not the preferred response with respect to a person who acts in a reasonable manner to protect or defend oneself or another family or household member from domestic violence.”
Types of Domestic Violence Cases
The vast majority of domestic violence cases are domestic battery cases where a spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend, is charged with committing physical violence against their significant other. Oftentimes, the contact can be minimal—there is no requirement that the alleged domestic abuse victim suffers bodily harm in any way. Any physical contact 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 DV.
More serious DV cases with significant bodily harm can be charged as felonies, as well as second or subsequent misdemeanor DV cases. An experienced domestic violence defense attorney will help determine where your case falls within this spectrum.
An alleged victim can also seek a (also known as a ). The alleged victim is not required to report a crime to law enforcement. However, it is not uncommon for a person facing domestic charges to be served with an injunction.
Pretrial Release and Stay-Away Orders
Unlike most misdemeanors, a person arrested for a domestic misdemeanor battery 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 must consider the safety of the alleged victim, the alleged victim’s children, and any other person who may be in danger if the defendant is released. A standard condition of release in all domestic cases is a stay-away order from the victim, also known as the “protected person.”
A stay-away order prohibits a defendant from having contact with the protected person and protected members of a victim’s family. This means in-person contact as well as any form of communication whatsoever. If the alleged victim sends you a text message, for example, and you reply, 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, 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 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.
More Miami Domestic Violence Resources
Miami Domestic Violence Criminal Court – The Eleventh Judicial Circuit’s webpage explains the case flow of domestic violence cases and how domestic violence court calendars work. Also includes important contact information for both defendants and alleged victims.
Miami-Dade County Domestic Violence Assistance – Provides information regarding domestic violence and victim services provided by the Miami-Dade County Community Action and Human Services Department, specifically counseling, treatment, early intervention services, and housing.
Possible Punishments for a Domestic Violence Charge
A conviction for domestic violence can have serious consequences. A domestic felony charge conviction could result in a years-long state prison sentence. A felony and a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction can become a permanent part of your public record and interfere with future employment, housing, and custody matters. If you are a non-US citizen, convictions for domestic violence accusations 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 DV First-Degree Misdemeanor Conviction
- Up to one (1) year in jail
- A minimum mandatory sentence of 10 days in jail for a first offense if the victim suffered bodily injury, 15 days in jail for a second offense, and 20 days for a third or subsequent offense (§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 DV Conviction
- Can affect the 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)
- child custody
- Bar from military service
Expungement or Sealing
Florida law prevents a person found guilty of any domestic violence crime from sealing or expunging their record, regardless of whether their adjudication is withheld (§741.28, Florida Statutes).
This means that the case will be on your permanent record even if you plead no contest and the judge does not formally convict you (withholds adjudication). Unfortunately, the law does not provide any exceptions.
Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges
911 calls to the police alleging domestic violence usually arise in the heat of the moment. Most of the time, different people have different perspectives on what happened. Sometimes, a person alleged to have committed domestic violence may be arrested due to false accusations made by the other person. Some alleged victims are motivated by revenge or other improper motives.
Unfortunately, police officers are forced to make arrest decisions on the scene and don’t have the luxury of conducting a detailed investigation. Not surprisingly, they don’t always get it right. Our job as defense attorneys is two-fold. First, we may try to persuade the prosecutor that the cops got it wrong and shouldn’t have arrested our client. If we are successful, the case is over. If the assistant state attorney files charges, we then focus on the facts and circumstances of our client’s case and present the best defense possible. Sometimes it is self-defense, while other times, it can be a matter of proving that the allegation is false by attacking the alleged victim’s credibility. Sometimes, it is a combination of the two.
Contact an Experienced Miami Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one are facing a domestic violence charge, you must be represented by an experienced Miami domestic violence defense attorney to minimize the chances of a conviction. If you are facing false accusations, 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 must ensure that the consequences are minimized as much as possible. Many family law lawyers represent their clients for domestic violence when they are facing a criminal charge. However, if you are being prosecuted for a criminal offense, you should seriously consider obtaining legal representation from a criminal defense lawyer. We have extensive experience in these matters and will fight to ensure that your rights are protected and that negative consequences are minimized.
Over the years, we have successfully represented hundreds of clients in domestic abuse cases by obtaining dismissals, not guilty verdicts, or reducing charges to less serious offenses. 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 immediate action by hiring an experienced Miami domestic violence attorney to defend yourself, you are minimizing the chances that your case will have lasting consequences for your career, personal life, and reputation.
CALL US NOW for a CONFIDENTIAL INITIAL CONSULTATION at (305) 538-4545, or take a moment to fill out our confidential and secure intake form.* The additional details you provide will greatly assist us in responding to your inquiry.
*Due to the large number of people who contact our law office requesting our assistance, it is strongly suggested that you take the time to provide us with specific details regarding your case by filling out our confidential and secure intake form. The additional details you provide will greatly assist us in responding to your inquiry promptly and appropriately.
THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF LAW FIRMS AND ATTORNEYS IN SOUTH FLORIDA. ALWAYS INVESTIGATE A LAWYER’S QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE BEFORE MAKING A DECISION ON HIRING A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ATTORNEY FOR YOUR MIAMI-DADE COUNTY CASE