Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
How to Beat a Florida Domestic Violence Charge
Domestic violence encompasses a broad range of conduct that involves individuals who are household members and/or individuals who share children. However, many domestic violence cases are not clear cut and all situations are unique. In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, allegations of domestic violence are taken very seriously and the consequences of simply being charged with domestic violence crimes can be catastrophic, even when allegations have not yet been proven. Because of the severe nature of domestic violence criminal matters in Fort Lauderdale, anyone facing domestic violence charges must act quickly to retain a superior Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer.
At Musca Law, our team of nationally recognized Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers continue to devote their careers and lives to helping those accused of serious crimes, many of which are felonies that can send a person to jail for decades. All criminal matters – whether they involve misdemeanor or felony charges – should be handled by a qualified lawyer with a track record of success. The Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers possess the necessary experience, knowledge, and reputation to help you fight domestic violence charges. Do not settle for just any lawyer. Find out how Musca Law can help you today by calling (888) 484-5057. Our legal team is ready 24/7 to provide you with high-quality legal representation.
What is Considered Domestic Violence Under Florida Law?
Domestic violence crimes in Florida involve a variety of conduct between family or household members. Specifically, under Florida Statute § 741.28(2), “domestic violence” is defined as “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”
The key aspect of a domestic violence matter is whether the alleged perpetrator and victim are considered family or household members under Florida’s domestic violence statute. A family or household member, per Florida law, is any of the following:
- Former Spouses;
- Persons Related by Blood or Marriage;
- Persons Presently Residing Together as if a Family;
- Persons Who Have Resided Together in the Past as a Family; and
- Persons Who Share a Child in Common Regardless of Whether They Have Been Married.
In each instance of alleged domestic violence, the family or household members at issue must either currently live together or have lived together in the past. However, this requirement does not apply to individuals who share a child in common.
Domestic Violence Injunctions – A Related Matter to Domestic Violence Charges in Florida
Facing domestic violence criminal charges in Fort Lauderdale, Florida is just one part of the story. In many cases, a person facing domestic violence criminal charges will also face a domestic violence injunction, which is a civil court matter, not a criminal matter. A victim of alleged domestic violence who wishes to obtain a domestic violence injunction in Fort Lauderdale must comply with certain legal requirements. Per Florida Statute § 741.30, such requirements include the following:
- The person seeking the injunction (known as the “petitioner”) has established that he or she (or a minor child) is a family or household member; and
- (1) the petitioner/minor child is presently the victim of domestic violence; or
- (2) the petitioner reasonably believes that he or she (or the minor child) will imminently become a victim of domestic violence.
The victim/petitioner must file a petition in a Fort Lauderdale court by using a court-approved form. A civil court judge will review the petition to determine whether the petition meets Florida’s statutory requirements for obtaining a domestic violence injunction. Given the seriousness of domestic violence matters, most judges are likely to grant a requested injunction on a temporary basis to provide the alleged victim with relief from imminent harm.
If a judge issues a temporary dating violence injunction, the accused individual, known as the “respondent” in an injunction matter, will be served with a copy of the petition and temporary injunction. The respondent will be required to appear in court approximately fifteen days after being served with the injunction. At the time of the hearing, both parties will present evidence, witness testimony, and arguments. The judge will review the case and determine whether a final/permanent domestic violence injunction should be issued.
Because domestic violence injunctions involve allegations of criminal conduct, anyone facing a domestic violence injunction in Fort Lauderdale must work with a criminal defense lawyer who handles domestic violence criminal matters in addition to injunction matters. Although domestic violence injunctions are civil matters, they pose serious consequences by limiting a respondent’s constitutional rights and exposing the respondent to potential criminal liability for violating the injunction. Violation of a domestic violence injunction can lead to serious criminal charges.
Additional Protective Injunctions Under Florida Law
Domestic violence injunctions are just one type of protective injunction a person can seek to obtain under Florida law. Pursuant to Florida Statute Florida Statute § 784.046, a victim of alleged violence can seek to obtain the following types of injunctions:
- Dating Violence Injunction;
- Repeat Violence Injunction; and
- Sexual Violence Injunction.
Per Florida Statute § 784.045, a victim of alleged stalking can seek to obtain a stalking injunction, which includes physical stalking and cyberstalking. Domestic violence may involve conduct that falls under the categories of dating violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, and stalking or cyberstalking. As such, it is especially important to work with a qualified Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer if you are facing ANY type of protective injunction.
No-Contact Orders – The Early Stages Following Arrest on Domestic Violence Charges
Once a person is arrested on charges of domestic violence in Fort Lauderdale, he or she is placed in jail until the initial court appearance, which typically happens within 24 hours of arrest. In some cases, it may take longer than 24 hours to see a judge if an arrest is made late at night. Under Florida law, the person facing domestic violence charges will receive a Standard No-Contact Order at the first court appearance, which requires the accused person to avoid verbal and/or physical contact with the alleged victim, regardless of whether the alleged victim has sought and obtained a domestic violence injunction. Whether the accused person is guilty or innocent, he or she must comply with the No-Contact Order as failure to do so may lead to additional criminal charges and jail time. Per Florida Statute § 741.29(6), a person who violates a pretrial condition, such as a No-Contact Order, faces a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries as potential jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000.
If a victim does not wish to press charges against the arrested individual, the parties can seek to modify the No-Contact Order by filing a Motion to Modify Conditions of Release in court. However, before taking any action in a domestic violence criminal matter, the accused person must speak with a Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer right away. Domestic violence cases are unpredictable and can quickly change as time passes. Choosing to move forward without the assistance of a legal professional can significantly risk an accused person’s legal rights.
Domestic Violence and Battery Under Florida Law
A substantial number of domestic violence cases in Fort Lauderdale involve allegations of battery. Therefore, it is important to have a good understanding of what constitutes battery under Florida law. Per Florida Statute § 784.03(1), a person may face charges of battery if he or she “actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.”
Under Florida Statute § 784.041(1), a person may face charges of felony battery if, in the course of committing the battery, he or she causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. Domestic violence battery is considered more serious than battery charges that do not involve a domestic relationship between the victim and accused person. As such, the penalties for conviction of domestic violence battery are worse than for non-domestic battery convictions.
Penalties for Conviction of Domestic Violence Battery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Domestic violence battery, also known as domestic battery, is considered a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida law. If convicted, the accused person faces up to one year and jail and a fine of up to $1,000. A person charged with felony domestic battery faces a third-degree felony under Florida law. If convicted, the accused person faces up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. In addition to jail time and fines, convicted individuals face the following penalties:
- Completion of a 26-Week Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP);
- Probation for Up to One Year;
- Minimum of Five Days in Jail if the Accused is Found Guilty and the Crime(s) Involved Bodily Injury;
- Completion of Community Service Hours;
- Loss of Right to Possess Firearms and Ammunition;
- Facing a No-Contact Order; and
- Potentially Facing a Domestic Violence Injunction.
In many cases, the above-listed penalties may seem worse than jail time or fines. Anyone facing domestic violence battery charges should make every effort to avoid facing penalties that limit constitutional rights. However, to successfully fight domestic violence battery charges
Additional Domestic Violence Crimes Under Florida Law
As previously stated, domestic violence crimes go far beyond battery and assault. Per Florida law, numerous offenses that involve family or household members fall under the category of domestic violence, and most offenses are serious misdemeanors and felonies. A person facing domestic violence charges often faces more than one criminal charge, and the combined penalties for conviction can lead to decades in jail and thousands of dollars in fines, not to mention the additional penalties that limit a person’s legal rights. Examples of domestic violence crimes aside from simple battery include the following:
Aggravated Domestic Battery with Serious Bodily Injury
Aggravated Domestic Battery with Use of a Deadly Weapon
Domestic Battery by Strangulation
Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Victim
Assault or Battery on Person Over the Age of 65 Years Old
Violation of a Domestic Violence Protective Injunction
Violation of a Dating Violence Injunction, Repeat Violence Injunction, or Sexual Violence Injunction
Violation of a Stalking Injunction
Stalking, Aggravated Stalking, and Cyberstalking
Tampering with a Witness
Although domestic violence cases may be similar, no two cases are ever exactly alike. As such, a result in one domestic violence case in Fort Lauderdale should not be used to predict how another domestic violence case may pan out. A variety of factors must be considering when facing and defending domestic violence charges in Fort Lauderdale, and the right defense begins with the right Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer.
Defending a Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Case
All individuals facing domestic violence charges deserve to present a strong defense. With the legal representation of a reputable Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer, an accused person can begin to build a defense that will help to achieve the best outcome in the case. A lawyer will consider numerous factors when shaping a client’s defense, including, among others, the client’s criminal history or lack thereof, the severity of the pending domestic violence charges, and whether legal grounds exist to seek dismissal or reduction of criminal charges.
Examples of defenses a Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer may present on behalf of a client include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Fighting the charges based on a lack of evidence;
- Absence of injuries to the alleged victim;
- Evidence that the victim can be considered vindictive;
- Defense of others;
- Defense of property;
- Stand Your Ground; and
- Consensual confrontation or mutual combat.
Given the unique nature of each domestic violence case, an accused person must first meet with a Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer before formulating the best possible case to avoid the harshest of outcomes under Florida law.
Sealing and Expunging Domestic Violence Convictions in Florida
Any person who either pleads guilty to domestic violence charges in Florida or is found guilty at trial will have the criminal conviction on record for life. What this means is that the convicted person will not have an opportunity to seal or expunge the domestic violence convictions, and any person who runs a background check will see the conviction. However, to obtain a professional opinion about the matter, it is crucial to speak with a Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer.
Early Negotiation of a Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Case
As with all criminal matters, early negotiation of a domestic violence case is possible with the assistance of a qualified and reputable Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer. A lawyer who has routinely worked with the same prosecutors and handled the same types of domestic violence cases is in the best position to help negotiate a domestic violence case. Of course, the best outcome for a domestic violence case is complete dismissal. However, when domestic violence cases cannot be dismissed on legal grounds, negotiation may be the best option for a person facing serious domestic violence charges. Depending on the type of domestic violence crimes at issue, a lawyer may be able to get a serious felony reduced to a misdemeanor, which can significantly limit jail time and limit the permanent damage of becoming a convicted felon.
Enrollment in a Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Course to Avoid Prosecution
Unless a domestic violence case can be dismissed on legal grounds, an accused person should take all possible steps to mitigate the damage associated with a criminal case and potential conviction of serious charges. One way to show a positive step forward is for an accused person to enroll in a domestic violence course and/or undergo counseling. When the accused person and victim wish to maintain a relationship, both parties may voluntarily attend course and/or undergo counseling together. While enrolling in a domestic violence course may be advisable in some situations, there may be strategic reasons to avoid doing so. As such, while participation in a domestic violence course may help to avoid prosecution, such an option may not be viable for every accused person, and whether to move forward with this option is a matter that must be thoroughly discussed with a Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer.
Contact the Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers of Musca Law Today!
If you are facing domestic violence charges in Fort Lauderdale, you have limited time to find a lawyer and protect your legal rights from tough prosecutors. The Fort Lauderdale Defense Lawyers of Musca Law have more than 150 years of combined experience helping clients achieve the best outcome possible given the facts of a case. At Musca Law, our team of lawyers and legal staff handle nothing but criminal matters, ensuring they can provide the best legal representation possible to all clients. To speak with a skilled Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer, contact Musca Law 24/7 by calling (888) 484-5057.