Domestic Violence Criminal Charge Defense Lawyers in Clearwater, Florida

How to Beat a Domestic Violence Criminal Charge in Florida

Domestic violence incidents in Clearwater — and across Florida — attract a substantial amount of attention from law enforcement agents, prosecutors, and judges. A person charged with domestic violence should expect that his or her case will be scrutinized. No one involved in handling the case, from the police to prosecutors, to judges, wants his or her name attached to a tragedy because something went wrong after a domestic incident.

State attorneys in Clearwater, Florida, are inundated with training on how to prosecute domestic violence cases. State prosecutors are diligent with their case preparation. They seek harsh jail or prison sentences, with long probationary periods, all to prevent an escalation of domestic violence episodes while holding out some hope that the person convicted of a domestic violence incident reforms his or her behavior. As a result, the prosecuting attorney takes the side of the alleged victim and does not question what happened and why.

The media frame emerging attitudes about domestic violence. What was once something that was hidden from sight and considered to be a problem to be sorted out at home, domestic violence is a hot-button topic that he media latch onto, especially after a tragic incident. The media, and the public, by extension, demand that the police and prosecuting attorneys predict the future and prevent bad outcomes. As a result of the political pressure, prosecutors fight tooth and nail to win each domestic violence case and then send the offender to prison for a long amount of time.

The “one-size fits all” philosophy of prosecuting domestic violence cases is problematic. Not every person facing domestic violence charges is a threat to kill someone. Moreover, not every person charged with domestic violence is guilty. Many people abuse the system and know the “magic words” that will get their domestic partner arrested, jailed, and then compelled to face a judge. Only a highly experienced and vigilant Clearwater Domestic Violence Defense attorney could defend the rights of someone accused of domestic violence crime and stop the injustice at the courthouse steps.

Statistics in Florida Relating to Domestic Violence

The most recent statistics available suggest that 2.65 people, on average, live in a residential unit in Florida, which is a state that has approximately 21 million residents. Interestingly, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) noted that 104,914 domestic violence incidents occurred in 2018. Although the number seems exceedingly high, there are only a small number of domestic violence incidents per capita. The total number of 2018 domestic violence incidents that occurred in Florida may be categorized as follows:

  • Criminal Homicide — The FDLE’s statistics from 2018 show that 196 criminal homicides defined as domestic violence events transpired. Tragically, 70 of the 196 incidents were spouses, another 35 included household members, and another 34 criminal homicide victims were children killed by a parent.
  • Manslaughter — Manslaughter in the domestic violence context was charged only nineteen times in 2018. Sadly, eleven of the nineteen cases included children and their parents.
  • Forcible Rape — The FDLE statistics demonstrate that 1,783 forcible rape incidents, including a family or household member, happened in 2018., while 376 incidents involved accusations focusing on another family member. Two hundred eighty-seven (287) of the reported cases involved a child accusing a parent of abuse, and 376 accusations singled out a family member as the perpetrator.
  • Forcible Fondling — Florida police investigated 841 incidents reported as forcible fondling. Among the reported cases, 308 investigations reported children who accused a family member who was not a parent of the crime. However, another 223 incidents reported involved a child victimized by a parent.
  • Aggravated Assault — Aggravated assault cases were widely reported in 2018. Nearly 16,000 people reported domestic violence incidents alleged to be an aggravated assault. The majority of the incidents — 4,513 — involved domestic abuse perpetrated by household members. Additionally, 2,950 cases were categorized by law enforcement as “other,” while 2,873 aggravated assault investigations focused on spousal abuse.
  • Simple Assault — Police received more simple assault complaints than any other domestic violence crime. FDLE statistics indicated in 2018, 83,980 simple assault allegations were investigated. Specifically, 24,614 simple assault investigations involved household members; 17,585 investigations involved spouses, while 14,150 incidents were categorized as “other.”
  • Aggravated Stalking — Aggravated stalking was reported less often than any other domestic violence crime. In 2018, FDLE indicated that 55 out of the 160 aggravated stalking investigations involved spouses, and 71 could be defined as “other.”
  • Simple Stalking — In 2018, FLDE agencies investigated 384 reports of simple stalking accusations. FDLE member agencies counted 99 incidents of simple stalking perpetrated by household members and 93 cases of “other,” and 140 incidents were reported between spouses.
  • Threats or Intimidation — FDLE reported a total of 1,551 incidents of threats or intimidation in 2018. There were complaints lodged against 389 spouses, 322 “other,” and 304 household members.

Every person with domestic violence charges in Clearwater, Florida, is protected by the rights granted to him or her by operation of the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Florida. Those rights are absolute and do not yield, no matter the criminal offense alleged. However, the authorities would take away those rights to ensure that another episode of domestic violence does not happen. A seasoned Clearwater Domestic Violence Defense Attorney could protect those rights and mount a vigorous defense to avoid prosecution and incarceration potentially.

Domestic Violence Law in Clearwater, Florida

Florida Statutes §741.28(2) clearly defines which criminal acts should be categorized as domestic violence. Domestic violence, although easily understood, is a “term of art,” meaning that Florida law gives the phrase a specific definition. Domestic violence has two components to it under Florida law. First, the incident must be one that involves an act of violence, such as:

  • Stalking,
  • Aggravated Stalking,
  • Assault,
  • Battery,
  • Aggravated Assault,
  • Aggravated Battery,
  • Sexual Battery,
  • Sexual Assault,
  • Kidnapping,
  • False Imprisonment, and
  • Any other criminal offense which has an element of violence or force that might cause injury or death.

Secondly, the law recognizes specific relationships as domestic under Florida’s domestic violence law. The relationships that qualify for domestic violence include:

  • Current or formerly married couples,
  • Blood or marital relations,
  • People currently or formerly lived in the same residence together while holding themselves out as a family unit, and
  • Individuals who have a child together, even if they never lived together.

When both elements of domestic violence are satisfied, then the case could be prosecuted under Florida’s domestic violence act. The act carries enhanced penalties (discussed below) that take effect upon a conviction for a domestic violence incident. Consequently, discussing your case with a knowledgeable and zealous Clearwater Domestic Violence Defense Attorney could help you avoid the brutal penalties associated with a domestic violence conviction in Clearwater.

Injunctions to Prevent Domestic Violence in Clearwater, Florida

Florida Statutes §741.30 authorizes judges to issue injunctions to prevent domestic violence, provided that the two elements of “domestic violence” are satisfied. The alleged victim of a Clearwater domestic violence incident can ask a judge to issue an injunction, also called a restraining order or an order for protection.

The person seeking the protection of the court is the petitioner. A judge will review the petition for a domestic violence injunction once the petitioner files the appropriate pleadings. After reviewing the pleadings, the judge could issue a temporary injunction and assign a final hearing date. The respondent, or the person served with a restraining order, has the right to have counsel present and argue on his or her behalf.

Having the assistance of a seasoned Clearwater Domestic Violence Defense Attorney will mitigate the life-altering implications of living subject to a domestic violence injunction. Not only does a petition for domestic violence injunction involve allegations of a crime, which could have further implications for the respondent, the issuance of a domestic violence injunction means that the respondent would be prevented by court order from speaking with certain family members, visiting certain family members, visiting specified locations like a school or business, and surrendering all firearms and ammunition. Additionally, the respondent could lose his or her rights to be a parent to their child, live where they would like because an injunction could force the respondent to live somewhere else while the order is in effect, and could impact other areas of one’s life such as employment and educational opportunities.

However, enlisting the services of a qualified Clearwater Domestic Violence Defense Attorney who has significant experience defending the rights of people accused of domestic violence could prevent and unjust result.

Automatic No-Contact Orders in Clearwater Domestic Violence Cases

Florida Statutes §741.29(6) introduces a cooling-off period for people arrested on allegations of domestic abuse in Clearwater. Section 741.29 institutes an automatic no-contact and stay-away order against the accused. However, Florida Statutes does not allow a person under arrest for a domestic violence incident to be released from jail until 24 hours elapses from the time of the alleged domestic violence incident or after appearing before a judge who will address conditions of release, if any, or order preventative detention. A violation of the automatic no-contact and stay-away order is a criminal offense in its own right.

Domestic Violence Penalties in Clearwater

The penalties for domestic violence convictions in Clearwater are significant. Not only does the offender face the maximum penalty for the underlying crime, but the offender could also receive additional sanctions such as:

  • 26-Week Batterer’s Intervention Programming,
  • One Year of Supervised Probation,
  • A minimum five-day jail sentence if the conviction involves a physical injury,
  • Community Service Obligation,
  • Forfeiture of Firearms and Ammunition (even if the court did not issue an injunction against domestic violence),
  • Automatic no-contact and stay-away orders, and
  • Living subject to a permanent injunction.

Judges in Florida treat domestic violence cases seriously. They will severely punish an offender for ensuring the safety of the alleged victim and for preventing another domestic violence incident from occurring again.

Domestic Crimes in Pinellas County

Numerous criminal offenses could meet the definition of domestic violence. The table below is a comprehensive list of domestic violence charges sought in Clearwater, Florida:



Violent Crimes

Aggravated Domestic Battery with Serious Bodily Injury

F.S. § 741.028(2); F.S. § 784.045

Aggravated Domestic Battery with Use of a Deadly Weapon

F.S. § 741.028(2); F.S. § 784.045

Domestic Battery by Strangulation

F.S. § 741.041(2)(a)

Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Victim

F.S. § 784.045(1)(b)

Assault or Battery on Person Over the Age of 65 Years Old

F.S. § 784.08

Violation of a Domestic Violence Protective Injunction

F.S. § 741.30

Violation of a Dating Violence Injunction, Repeat Violence Injunction, or Sexual Violence Injunction

F.S. § 784.046

Violation of a Stalking Injunction

F.S. § 784.045

Stalking, Aggravated Stalking, and Cyberstalking

F.S. § 784.048

Kidnapping, Kidnapping Child Under Age 13, and Aggravated Kidnapping

F.S. § 787.01

False Imprisonment, False Imprisonment of Child Under Age 13, and Aggravated False Imprisonment

F.S. § 787.02

Homicide/Murder, and Attempted Murder

F.S. 782.04

Manslaughter, Aggravated Manslaughter of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult, and Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child

F.S. § 782.07

Weapons and Firearms Offenses

F.S. § 790

Abuse and Neglect of Children

Child Abuse, Aggravated Child Abuse, Child Endangerment, and Child Neglect

F.S. § 827.03

Newborn Infants, and Treatment of Surrendered Newborn Infant (not a crime if the infant is surrendered to emergency personnel)

F.S. § 827.035; F.S. § 383.50

Contributing to the Delinquency or Dependency of a Child

F.S. § 827.04

Nonsupport of Dependents

F.S. § 827.06

Sexual Performance by a Child

F.S. § 827.071

Unlawful Desertion of a Child

F.S. § 827.10

Sex Crimes and Lewd/Lascivious Behavior

Sexual Assault/Sexual Battery, Forcible Rape

F.S. § 794.011

Lewd or Lascivious Offenses Committed Upon or in the Presence of Persons Less than 16 Years of Age, including Forcible Fondling

F.S. § 800.04

Human Trafficking

F.S. 787.06

Offenses by Adult Involving Minors, Intent of Legislature in Prosecuting Such Offenses

F.S. § 796.001

Forcing, Compelling, or Coercing Another to Become a Prostitute

F.S. § 796.04

Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of Elderly Persons or Disabled Adults

Abuse, Aggravated Abuse, and Neglect of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult

F.S. § 825.102

Lewd or Lascivious Offenses Upon or in the Presence of an Elderly Person or Disabled Person

F.S. § 825.1025

Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult

F.S. § 825.103

Injunction for Protection Against Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult

F.S. § 825.1035

Violation of an Injunction for Protection Against Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult

F.S. § 825.1036

Other Crimes

Death Resulting from Apparent Drug Overdose and Reporting Requirements

F.S. § 893.0301

Poisoning Food or Water

F.S. § 859.01

Desertion, Withholding Support, and Proviso

F.S. § 856.04

Depriving Crime Victim of Medical Care

F.S. § 843.21

Perjury by Contradictory Statements

F.S. § 837.021

False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities

F.S. § 837.05

False Information to Law Enforcement During Investigation

F.S. § 837.055

False Official Statements

F.S. § 837.06

Verbal or Written Threats and Extortion

F.S. § 836.05

Written Threats to Kill, Do Bodily Injury, or Conduct a Mass Shooting or an Act of Terrorism

F.S. § 836.10


F.S. § 836.12

Tampering with a Witness

F.S. § 914.22

Culpable Negligence

F.S. § 784.05

Trespass in Structure or Conveyance

F.S. § 810.08

Trespass on Property Other Than Structure or Conveyance

F.S. 810.09

Obstructing Justice

F.S. § 843

Bigamy, and Incest

F.S. § 826

Defending Clearwater Criminal Offenses

Designing a winning defense to domestic violence charges in Clearwater involves having a keen understanding of Florida law as well as a deep examination of the facts of the incident. A seasoned Clearwater Domestic Violence Defense Attorney will know how to develop a comprehensive defense strategy designed to convince a judge to dismiss the case or to win an acquittal after trial.

Defenses may be separated into pre-trial and trial defenses. As with every criminal charge, the defense strategy that works in one case might not apply to another case. Each case must be analyzed solely according to its facts and circumstances, and not about another’ person’s charges.

Before trial, a solid defense strategy might involve moving to dismiss the case for lack of evidence because the alleged victim also arguably committed a crime and testifying would place the alleged victim in jeopardy of forfeiting his or her rights to be free from self-incrimination. The prosecution might have other evidence to prove the case, and the judge might order the case to go on. However, when the incident involves allegations of abuse without an independent witness, the judge might dismiss the case.

Additional pre-trial defenses include moving to suppress statements or evidence obtained in violation of the rights of the accused. Successfully moving to suppress statements or evidence collected by police in violation of the constitutional rights of the accused will severely hinder the prosecution’s case.

Defense strategies at trial are in constant flux and continue to take shape during a trial. However, a successful Clearwater Domestic Violence Defense Attorney will develop a plan of attack with the intent to dismantle the prosecution’s case, discredit the alleged victim, and cast doubt on the government’s case. Questioning the credibility of the victim concerning her or his bias toward the accused, a motive to lie, previous inconsistent statements, lack of evidence of injury, mutual combat, and self-defense are viable defense strategies. A Clearwater Domestic Violence Defense Attorney with substantial trial experience and a reputation for handling tough cases will design a defense strategy to suit your needs.

Contact the Clearwater Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers with Musca Law Immediately!

Act swiftly to avoid the life-altering consequences of defending a Clearwater domestic violence charge. Musca Law’s Clearwater Defense Lawyers are ready to use their skill, expertise, and vast experience to protect your rights if you face domestic violence charges in Clearwater. Calling 888-484-5057 right now is the first step toward protecting your invaluable rights.

Get your case started by calling us at (888) 484-5057 today!