Florida Domestic Violence Criminal Charge Frequently Asked Questions  

November 19, 2019

Florida Domestic Violence Criminal Charge Frequently Asked Questions  

Every year more than ten million people accuse their intimate partners of domestic violence in the United States. While violence between intimate partners violates Florida law, the nature of this crime makes it difficult to determine whether an accusation of domestic abuse is legitimate or false. In some situations, especially during cases of divorce, false accusations are somewhat common. In a divorce, partners may make accusations to gain the upper hand in the litigation or a custody battle. Other times, individuals who are hurt emotionally may resort to claiming abuse out of vindictiveness. 

Domestic Violence charges come with severe consequences for the accused. A conviction for domestic abuse will result in severe penalties that go far beyond prison time.  

If you or a family member are facing accusations of Domestic Violence, you must take these charges seriously and seek legal counsel. There are strategies you can use to defend against the charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to provide you with legal advice and come up with a strategy that fits the facts specific to your case.

If you are facing charges of Domestic Violence in the State of Florida, you likely have questions about what the charges mean and what you can do to protect yourself. 

How is the crime of Domestic Violence defined in Florida?

Domestic Violence charges include a host of related crimes, including assault, battery, stalking, kidnapping, and sex crimes. Assault and battery are two crimes that frequently lead to domestic violence charges.

Assault involves an intentional and unlawful threat to commit a violent act against another person paired with the perceived ability to act out the violent threat. The person need not actually carry out any violence against the other individual; the threat itself is a crime.

In Florida, battery charges include the non-consensual and intentional touching of another person that is meant to cause bodily harm to the other person.

Either one of these would be a crime even on its own, but it becomes a domestic violence crime if the parties involved are in certain types of relationships. 

When a violent crime is carried out by a member of a family or someone in the same household as the victim, then under Florida law, the charges may include domestic violence. The charges may also apply if the parties are in a romantic or dating relationship, even if they do not live in the same home. If the parties involve individuals who lived together at one point but no longer lived together, this may also lead to charges for domestic violence. 

What does the prosecutor have to prove to convict a person of Domestic Violence in Florida?

To convict an individual of the crime of Domestic Violence, the prosecutor will have to prove each element of the underlying crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The State will also have to show that the parties were involved in a qualifying relationship.

For instance, if the charges include battery or physical violence, the State must show that the defendant actually and intentionally struck or touched another person against the other person’s will and that the defendant did so with the intention of harming the other person. Next, the prosecutor must show that the defendant and the alleged victim were at the time of the incident involved in a domestic relationship.

This will mean that the parties were married or formerly married, related by blood, related by marriage, residing together as a family, previously lived together as a family, or are parents to a common child, even if they are not currently together and were never married.

What are the consequences of a Domestic Violence conviction in Florida?

The consequences of a Domestic Violence conviction will depend on the severity of the underlying crime. Domestic Violence charges can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony. If the person commits an assault, but no actual physical violence is perpetrated, then the offender will likely be charged with a misdemeanor. This may not, however, be the case if the person has a history of Domestic Violence or violent crimes.  

In cases involving battery, the charges will likely depend on the severity of the harm caused to the victim as well as the criminal record of the defendant. 

Sentencing will vary from probation or less than a year in prison for misdemeanor charges to fifteen years in jail for more serious felony charges.

The victim may also get a restraining order entered against the defendant, which will restrict his or her access to the victim and to specific locations. A defendant who has children may not be able to see their children or have their access to those children restricted. 

What defenses are available to a person charged with domestic violence?

In many cases, the defendant may deny that the allegations are true. In these cases, it might be possible to argue that the alleged victim made a false claim. A defense attorney would, therefore, attack the charges and factual allegations. 

One common defense in these cases is self-defense. While striking another person is not permitted under the law, everyone has the right to defend themselves. If the alleged victim attacked the defendant, then the defendant had the right to fight back. 

Similarly, a defendant may claim that he or she was defending others. If the alleged victim was abusing another person, such as a child, then the defendant may have been justified in the use of force against the alleged victim.

Other defenses may include a claim that the harm to the victim was accidental, or that police violated the defendant’s rights, and that evidence against the defendant must be excluded.

The defenses that apply in each case will depend on the specific facts of the case. 

Anyone charged with Domestic Violence should take the charges seriously and contact an experienced defense attorney. The results of these charges can be significant and life-altering. A criminal defense attorney can protect the defendant’s rights and help develop a strategy to fight back against the charges. 

Florida Domestic Violence Attorneys Who Focus on Trial Readiness

Florida domestic violence cases resulting in prosecution usually lead to a trial.  This is why the accused defendant and the defense attorney must be resolved to be prepared for the trial if it ensues.   Trial readiness is needed by all parties for the entire duration of the case.  In certain situations the best strategy is demonstrating to the prosecutor that all parties involved are completely committed to delivering a well-organized defense, which means being prepared, willing, and able to proceed to trial which can lead to having a charge dropped, reduced, or diverted.