Domestic Abuse and Batterers’ Intervention in Florida
The court-ordered requirement to submit to counseling is just one way in which a domestic violence case differs from other types of criminal offenses in Florida. Specifically, there is no legally mandated or systemized counseling program for those who are convicted of other crimes such as assault, fraud, or theft. Under Florida law, if a person is convicted of committing an act or acts of domestic violence, it is quite possible that he or she will be required to attend a weekly batterers’ intervention course.
At Musca Law, our team of skilled Florida Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys knows that this is not just a simple requirement; it is a costly and comprehensive course that one must attend and foot the bill for, or else face severe legal consequences. While learning how to better cope is not typically a negative thing, it is important to understand that a batterers’ intervention course in Florida is a significant probationary commitment, and will last for at least six to eight months.
Keep in mind that the state of Florida is unlikely to remove this requirement, as over 90 percent of Florida citizens, when polled, indicated their belief that domestic violence offenders should attend a batterers’ intervention program as part of their punishment.
If you are facing domestic violence charges in Florida, contact Musca Law today at (888) 484-5057. We have over 150 collective years of legal experience representing those charged with domestic violence and all other types of criminal offenses in Florida. Don’t wait – contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options.
What is a Batterers’ Intervention Course?
Under Florida Statutes Section 741.32, it provides that “[t]he Legislature finds the incidence of domestic violence in [the state of Florida] to be disturbingly high, and despite the efforts to curb this violence, one person dies at the hands of a spouse, ex-spouse, or cohabitant approximately every 3 days.” Accordingly, the State of Florida created a batterers’ intervention program, which is a six to eight-month highly intensive program that is overseen by the Florida Department of Children and Families (“DCF”).
The purpose of a batterers’ intervention course is to address the root cause of the domestic violence and to prevent participants in the program from committing further acts of domestic violence. When a person undergoes batterers’ intervention counseling, he or she will be subject to an initial assessment, an orientation, and then 26 weeks of counseling, typically in a group-like setting.
The initial assessment is typically described as a “psychosocial evaluation,” where the goal is to decipher whether the offender would benefit from mental health or substance abuse treatment before he or she can enter the batterer’s intervention program. The idea here is that unless the individual addresses other types of mental health-related issues first, a batterers’ intervention program will prove ineffective. In some instances, administrators of a batterers’ intervention program will allow other forms of mental health treatment to run concurrently.
Once the initial assessment has been completed, the offender will be required to sign a contract, the document of which includes an admission of responsibility for his or her actions, as well as a promise to strictly adhere to its terms.
After the contract has been signed, the offender will then be required to attend weekly group sessions, which typically last approximately 1.5 hours. Each session is presided over by a facilitator.
Keep in mind that a batterers’ intervention program is costly, and must be paid for out of the offender’s own pocket. There is an upfront enrollment fee plus a $30 participation fee for every weekly group session, and once a person factors in such costs as transportation and other fees, the program can range between $700 and $1,000. This is in addition to whatever restitution, court courts, and fines that the offender may have already been required to pay in his or her domestic violence case.
The Goals of a Batterers’ Intervention Course
While several different agencies in Florida offer batterers’ intervention counseling, the standard curriculum for the state-authorized program is founded upon the so-called “intervention model.” This addresses the issue from the belief that domestic violence occurs when a person uses physical or emotional abuse on a repeated basis in order to gain power or control over another individual. Pursuant to this theory, DCF makes it mandatory for a batterers’ intervention program to include the following:
- Encouragement to come up with and employ critical thinking skills so as to influence the offender to identify troubling patterns of behavior, rethink their behavior, and choose alternatives that are non-violent in nature;
- Supporting the idea that domestic violence is solely associated with the aggressor and that this individual must take ownership and responsibility for it;
- Offering offenders the resources and tools necessary to enhance their negotiation, conflict resolution, and communication skills as well as the ability to empathetically listen;
- Aiding offenders in identifying how their emotions can sometimes alter behaviors and thinking patterns;
- Challenging gender role expectations that are stereotypical;
- Providing education to offenders as to how domestic violence can negatively affect children who witness it; and
- Outlining the effects of substance abuse on domestic violence.
Failing to Complete Batterers’ Intervention Can Result in Serious Consequences
If a defendant fails to attend all of the required courses, he or she may be terminated from the program. While it depends upon the unique circumstances and facts of one’s case, a failure to attend all of the courses could be deemed a violation of probation, the consequences of which are often serious. Specifically, a violation in this regard could result in a warrant for the offender’s arrest, followed by a potential jail term. There are times where there are extenuating circumstances as to why the courses cannot be attended however, these should be negotiated by a competent Florida Domestic Violence Defense Attorney. If you have already missed classes and are facing legal repercussions as a result, contact Musca Law now at (888) 484-5057. Don’t wait, as your legal rights are at stake.
Contact the Florida Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today!
If you have been charged with domestic violence in Florida, you need to seek the representation of a qualified Florida Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. At Musca Law, our team of nationally-recognized trial lawyers strives to ensure all of our clients receive the stellar and comprehensive representation that they deserve. To learn more about your legal rights and options, call Musca Law now toll-free at (888) 484-5057. We look forward to making a difference for you!