Domestic Violence FAQs
Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney Answers FAQs About Domestic Violence Under Florida Law
- What types of domestic violence crimes are there in Florida criminal law?
- Sexual assault;
- Criminal trespass;
- False imprisonment;
- Spousal rape;
- Restraining order violations;
- Are domestic violence cases misdemeanors or felonies?
- What if the alleged victim has no visible physical injuries?
- What are the penalties for Domestic Violence?
- What do I do if I do not want to press charges any more?.
- Are there alternatives to jail if I get convicted?.
- What should I do if I am facing domestic violence/battery charges?.
- Can I keep the charges private?.
- What happens after the police are called?.
- My partner called the police on me because he/she was mad at me; can I see my children?
- Are children who witnessed the alleged violence interrogated or questioned by the police?.
There are various types of domestic violence crimes which an individual may be charged with, including, but not limited to:
A domestic violence crime in Orlando or anywhere in Florida may be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony crime, depending on the circumstances of the incident, evidence compiled against the accused, and in some cases the accused criminal history.
While the fact that an alleged victim in a domestic violence case may not show any injuries when the police show up, this does not necessarily mean the case will not proceed. It simply means that the case against the accused will be a harder one for the State to make, as there is no physical evidence. It also depends on what the allegation involves; for example, if the allegation is that someone shoved the victim, logically there may not be any visible signs associated with that allegation. If, however, the allegation is that a person was punched or slapped in the face, or choked, there would be some expected physical signs of injury – though not always.
Bottom line is that zero signs of physical injury does not mean the case just goes away, but it makes it a tougher one for the state to prove. Keep in mind that an alleged victim’s testimony (what they will say in court) is evidence, and it is enough evidence, if a jury believes it, to prove a domestic violence/battery case. If there is no physical evidence when some should be expected, a skilled attorney will bring out that inconsistency to the prosecutor and/or jury to try to get the charges dropped or an acquittal at trial.
A battery / domestic violence charge is generally a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail or up to one year of probation, and up to a $1,000.00 fine. If the person is adjudicated guilty by the court and there is signs of physical harm, the court must give the person a mandatory 10 days in jail on a first offense, 15 days on a second offense, and 20 days on a third or subsequent misdemeanor offense. If the domestic violence is one where strangulation is alleged, or where great bodily injury or permanent disfigurement is alleged, that is a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, or up to 5 years of probation, and up to a $5,000.00 fine. Felony battery can result in mandatory prison time depending on how victim injury is scored under the guidelines – battery by strangulation scores prison time.
Other mandatory aspects of penalty in domestic violence cases include completion of a 26 Batterer’s Intervention Program; there are also long lasting ramifications to gun ownership rights.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence / battery charge, take these very seriously as the penalties and long term consequences can be dire. Defense Attorney David Hill has handled hundreds of these types of cases over his 28 years in practice and can help you put this behind you without permanent ramifications.
It is not uncommon, since these types of cases occur between spouses, partners or family members, for the person making the accusation to have a change of heart at some point. If you are the complainant or person that is the victim of domestic violence / battery, you can let the State of Florida (usually you will be contacted by a Victim advocate or the assigned prosecutor) that you do not wish to press charges or testify against the other person. Generally, they will want you to attend a class to make sure you know your rights and know about the patterns of domestic violence. If you tell them you do not want to prosecute the State of Florida still has the option of going forward with the case against the accused, and can call you as a witness, even if you are not a cooperating witness.
Another option is that a “Declination of Prosecution” signed by the victim/complainant can be signed and filed. However, again the State has the option of continuing forward with the charges even if the victim/complainant has signed and filed such a document.
Yes, probation is often an option, and there are diversion programs for first time offenders. Either of these options would involve the prosecutor agreeing to these outcomes. As mentioned above, the 26 week Batterer’s Intervention Program (“BIP”) is almost always going to be part of either of these outcomes, though a skilled and experienced attorney can negotiate cases down to only include shorter anger management classes rather than the longer and more involved “BIP” classes. Diversion programs for first offenders are often a great option if the evidence against you is strong, since if you successfully complete these the charges are completely dropped and you can get your arrest and court records expunged.
Because there is the possibility of jail or prison with these types of charges, or even if incarceration is not part of the picture there is the high probability that extensive counseling will be ordered, not to mention the possible ramifications to gun owning rights (for those that are concerned about them) and to keeping a clean record (you cannot get your domestic violence/battery charge record sealed or expunged unless the charge is completely dropped), it is highly advisable to get an experienced attorney whose specialty is criminal defense matters, and who has handled many of these types of cases. Attorney David Hill is such an attorney, who understands how stressful these types of charges are for not just the accused, but for their families.
Because of the personal nature of these types of charges, and the fact they typically involve a spouse/partner/girlfriend/boyfriend, just the fact of the arrest can be of concern to those worried about their professional reputations or reputations in general. While arrests, even if the charges are later dropped, are recorded, if you can get the charges completely dropped you are eligible to get the records of them sealed or expunged so that no one can see your arrest or court records relating to the offense. The Law Offices of David Hill routinely handle expunging and sealing requests for individuals charged with domestic violence/battery charges.
Many times after an argument gets escalated between a couple or between family members, one party will call the police just to get help in calming things down. However, what many folks do not realize is that if law enforcement are called to a domestic violence scene (which are notoriously dangerous situations due to emotions running so high) they are generally going to be taking at least one party to jail. If may not be the person who made the call, and sometimes if they think they have probable cause to believe that both parties committed a domestic violence/battery act on each other, it may be both parties going to jail. While it certainly is not recommended that the police not be called in a real domestic violence situation, at least be advised as to what can happen since police are trained to defuse the situation and that almost always means they are going to take someone to jail.
After an arrest for domestic violence/battery, the judge at your initial appearance (which takes place at the jail within 24 hours of your arrest) will determine whether you will be allowed to return to your home and have contact with the alleged victim or not. Sometimes the judge will allow you home with the condition that you have no hostile contact with the other person; sometimes the judge will allow no contact while the case is pending. If you have children and you are ordered to have no contact you will need your attorney to file a request with the judge to make temporary (while the case is pending) arrangements to be able to see your children, whether that is with a third party doing drop off/pick up of the kids, or meeting at some neutral spot. Keep in mind that this will be a temporary arrangement. If the children were not involved in the alleged domestic violence/battery case (meaning they were not present or victims) there should be no reason why a temporary visitation or child sharing arrangement cannot be worked out until the case is resolved. Attorney David Hill has made these arrangements for all his clients with children. Just because parents or partners are having a tough time there is no reason that they cannot continue to have contact with their children.
Yes, they can be, as police will want to talk to any possible witnesses. Generally the police will be sensitive to the ages of the children, and if they are very young they may not feel the need to ask them questions. However it is certainly within the realm of possibility that children will become witnesses.