The authorities in the state of Florida do not take accusations of domestic violence lightly. These charges are aggressively prosecuted, and if convicted, you could face serious penalties that will affect nearly every aspect of your life.
How does the law in Florida define domestic violence? What acts are considered domestic violence? What penalties will you face if you are convicted of this crime? How can a Clearwater criminal defense attorney help you fight these charges? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions.
What is Domestic Violence in Florida?
Each state has its own laws regarding domestic violence. In the state of Florida, there are a number of criminal offenses that can be categorized as domestic violence, including:
- Aggravated Assault
- Aggravated Battery
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Battery
- Aggravated Stalking
- False Imprisonment
- Other crimes that result in the injury or death of the victim
Each of these criminal offenses may or may not be considered domestic violence—it all depends on the relationship between the victim and the defendant. In Florida, the criminal offenses listed above are considered domestic violence when they are committed by one “family or household member” against another “family or household member.” This means the victim and defendant must be family or household members in order for the crime to be classified as domestic violence.
But who is considered a family or household member? In Florida, this term includes:
- Former spouses
- Family related by blood or marriage
- People who live under the same roof as a family
- People who have previously lived under the same roof as a family
- Parents of a child
So if someone commits assault against their ex-wife, it is considered domestic violence since the victim and defendant are family or household members. But if a person commits assault against a stranger, this is not considered domestic violence since there is no family or household relationship between the victim and defendant.
Is Domestic Violence A Felony in Florida?
If you are accused of committing domestic violence, you could face either misdemeanor or felony charges. The charge you will face will depend on the nature of your crime.
For example, the crimes of battery and aggravated battery can both be considered domestic violence crimes. Battery is classified as a misdemeanor, whereas aggravated battery is classified as a felony. So if you are charged with domestic violence for committing battery, you will face misdemeanor charges. But if you are charged with domestic violence for committing aggravated battery, you will face felony charges.
What Penalties Will You Face For A Domestic Violence Conviction?
The penalties that are imposed on domestic violence offenders will vary on a case-by-case basis. A number of factors can affect what penalties you will face, including the nature of your crime, your charges, and your prior criminal record.
Some of the many penalties that you can face for a domestic violence conviction in Clearwater include:
- Monetary fines
- Community service
Many domestic violence offenders are sentenced to probation. If you are sentenced to probation, one condition you must comply with is the attendance and completion of a batterers’ intervention program. This program is designed to help offenders learn the skills they need to manage their anger, deal with their emotions, develop healthier relationships with their loved ones, and avoid criminal behavior in the future.
Jail time is always a possibility in a case involving domestic violence. In fact, there are mandatory minimum jail sentences that judges must impose in certain domestic violence cases.
If you intentionally inflict bodily harm on the victim, the law states that you must be sentenced to at least 10 days in jail if convicted. Repeat offenders will face a mandatory jail sentence of 15 days for their second offense and 20 days for their third or subsequent offense.
There are also mandatory minimum jail sentences that must be imposed on domestic violence offenders who committed the crime in front of a child. First-time offenders will be sentenced to a minimum of 15 days in jail, whereas second-time offenders will face at least 20 days in jail. If this is your third or subsequent offense, the judge must sentence you to at least 30 days in jail.
What Are Domestic Violence Protective Orders?
If you are accused of domestic violence, the court may issue a protective order to keep you away from the victim. The terms of a protective order will vary on a case-by-case basis, but in general, you may be prohibited from:
- Making contact with the victim
- Visiting the victim’s home, school, or workplace
- Living in the same house as the victim
- Possessing a firearm
The terms of a protective order can completely disrupt your life. For example, if a protective order is issued, you may be required to move out of your family home in order to avoid contact with the victim. A protective order can also impact your right to child custody and visitation.
You must comply with the terms of a protective order once it has been issued against you. If you fail to comply with the terms of a protective order, you could face additional criminal charges and far more serious legal penalties.
Get Legal Help From An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
Do not face domestic violence charges alone—turn to the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett for help as soon as possible. With over 125 years of combined legal experience, our attorneys know what it takes to win complex criminal cases. We have helped over 15,000 clients protect their rights and fight their criminal charges. We work tirelessly to reach the best possible outcome for each and every client we represent.
Learn more about your legal options—and how we can fight for your freedom—by scheduling a free consultation with us today.