Domestic Violence Penalties in the State of Florida
Penalties in Florida for domestic violence can be very harsh, and they have enduring effects that can ruin an individual’s life. Florida law enforcement officers and prosecutors assigned to prosecute domestic violence charges take a strong stance against domestic violence. They receive training designed to identify people trapped in the circle of violence and instead of trying to rehabilitate the offender so that he or she learns how to process the emotions that lead to acting out violently, the expedient manner of handling the case is to ask a judge to impose significant jail sentences.
Domestic violence prosecutors in Florida will vigorously prosecute cases that have truly little evidence to support the allegations. Similarly, police officers will arrest a person accused of domestic violence without any objective evidence to support the claims made by the victim or witnesses. Therefore, a person facing domestic violence charges in Florida needs the assistance of a fierce advocate who will continue to fight until justice is done.
At Musca Law, our domestic violence defense attorneys have extraordinary experience defending cases involving domestic violence in Florida. Although their experience runs the gamut between simple assaults and incredibly violent episodes of aggravated battery and even unlawful killings, they understand that every person charged with a crime in Florida, whether the crime is domestic violence or another crime, deserves the protections afforded by the Constitution of the United States as well as the Florida State Constitution.
Many people erroneously believe that if they are arrested on domestic violence charges, the prosecutor will dismiss the case because it will be evident that the alleged victim contrived the allegations. Additionally, many people charged with domestic violence crimes believe that if the victim wants to recant or drop the case, then the prosecution cannot go forward.
Harboring a belief that the prosecutor will drop a domestic violence case simply because the case gets weaker due to lack of victim cooperation underestimates their opponent. Prosecutors are trained to look for evidence of a crime and use it to argue for a conviction even the alleged victim declined to cooperate with the prosecution. Therefore, waiting to see what happens is an utterly ineffective defense strategy. Instead, you should align yourself with sophisticated criminal defense attorneys in Florida who can develop a strategy to defend your case from the start.
Individuals charged with domestic violence cases also underestimate the potential collateral consequences that these charges bring. A person charged with domestic violence crime in Florida will lose his or her right to carry firearms, be subject to an injunction to prevent domestic violence, and could prejudice the person in divorce or child custody proceedings. Moreover, a judge could restrict the amount of time a person can spend with his or her child, the places he or she might visit, and even restrict where the person could live.
Being arrested for domestic violence charge in Florida means that you cannot post bond until you see a judge. The accused will see a judge at his or her initial court appearance, which must be held within 48 hours of the person’s arrest. Notwithstanding, holiday weekends or other circumstances might mean that the accused will remain in jail without bond for as many as 72 hours or longer.
You will have a chance to make phone calls while you are held in jail without bond. During that time, you must arrange to have an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer with you at your initial court appearance. The judge can set a bond at the initial appearance. Additionally, the judge will review the complaint to determine if the police had probable cause for an arrest and impose additional conditions of pre-trial release.
Some charges under Florida law do not permit a judge to set a bond. In that instance, the accused must ask for a bond hearing, often referred to as an Arthur Hearing, so that the judge can assess whether the accused is eligible to post bond.
Convictions for domestic crimes implicate minimum mandatory jail sentences. Florida Statutes §741.283 requires the sentencing judge to impose a ten-day minimum jail sentence for any person convicted of a crime of domestic violence in which the individual intentionally caused physical harm to the alleged victim. A second offense domestic violence conviction requires the judge to impose a minimum fifteen-day jail sentence, and a third offense requires the judge to sentence the offender to a minimum of twenty days in jail. The judge has no alternative. The court determines that a state prison sentence or a jail sentence longer than the minimum sentence is necessary to meet the ends of justice. Of course, judges can issue a much longer prison sentence pending on the facts of the case and the nature of the allegations argued by the prosecution.
Prosecutors can issue charges for felony domestic violence based on the seriousness of the offense or when the alleged offender has a previous domestic violence charge in which adjudication was withheld by the court or the offender was convicted. As such, charges such as a simple battery, aggravated battery, or aggravated assault falling under the domestic violence statute will be treated as a felony charge.
Law enforcement officers can bring felony charges in other circumstances. Those circumstances include the use of a weapon, the injuries to the victim left him or her permanently scarred, the victim suffered a broken bone, or the offender has three prior convictions for violent offenses that do not necessarily include domestic violence offenses. In those circumstances, the individual could face a third-degree felony conviction. A third-degree felony conviction subjects the offender to as long as five years in state prison.
Florida law recognizes other felony domestic violence offenses as well. Those charges include child abuse, strangulation, child neglect, kidnapping, sexual assault, sexual battery, or false imprisonment—a person convicted of a felony in Florida faces between five years and 30 years in prison.
Domestic violence convictions, irrespective of the penalty imposed, will force the convicted offender to forfeit his or her Second Amendment rights. Moreover, the conviction for domestic violence incidents cannot be expunged or sealed in Florida, and therefore it remains on a person’s public record permanently.
Musca Law: Helping You Avoid Strict Penalties for Domestic Violence in Florida
Once the wheels of justice start turning after a domestic violence arrest, there is nothing genuinely good that could arise out of the situation. However, the best circumstance for the accused is an acquittal after a trial or a plea to a reduced charge. The domestic violence defense attorneys from Musca Law know how to craft a defense designed to limit their clients’ exposure to Florida’s harsh domestic violence penalties. Call Musca Law today at 888-484-5057 to learn more about your rights.