Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers in Gainesville, Florida
How to Beat Florida Domestic Violence Criminal Charges
Domestic violence includes a whole host of conduct that pertains to individuals who share children in common or those who are household members. Notwithstanding, many domestic violence matters are not straightforward and all situations are dependent upon the individual facts and circumstances. In Gainesville, Florida, domestic violence allegations are taken very seriously, where the consequences of being charged with this crime can be catastrophic, even when the allegations have been falsified or exaggerated. Given the severe nature of domestic violence cases in Gainesville, those facing domestic violence charges must act quickly to retain an experienced Gainesville Domestic Violence Defense Attorney. To learn more about your legal rights and options, contact Musca Law today at (888) 484-5057. Our legal team is ready 24/7 to provide you with stellar legal representation.
Per the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there was a total of 104,914 reported incidents of domestic violence in the state of Florida back in 2018, with about 80% (83,980 offenses) constituting simple assault. Over 100,000 incidents of domestic violence that were reported may seem staggering however, not all amount to criminal charges. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement also reported the below back in 2018 related to the following domestic violence-related offenses:
- Criminal homicide – there was a total of 196 reported incidents of domestic violence-related criminal homicide, with 70 of said incidents involving spouses, 35 incidents involving co-habitants, and 34 involving those who were children of the accused.
- Manslaughter – there were 19 reported cases of domestic violence-related manslaughter, with 11 of them involving children of the accused.
- Forcible rape – there was a total of 1,783 reported cases of domestic violence-related forcible rate, with 287 of them involving children of the accused. 376 of the incidents involved victims who were “other” family members.
- Forcible fondling – there was a total of 841 reported incidents of domestic violence-related forcible fondling, with 308 involving “other” family members, and 223 involving children of the accused.
- Aggravated assault – there was a total of 16,000 reported incidents of domestic violence-related aggravated assault, with 4,513 of the incidents involving those who were co-habitants, 2,950 involving victims who are classified as “other,” and 2,873 involving spouses of the accused.
- Simple assault – there was a total of 83,980 reported cases of domestic violence-related simple assault, with 24,614 involving co-habitants, 17,585 involving spouses, and 14,150 involving those classified as “other.”
- Aggravated stalking – there was a total of 160 reported cases of domestic violence-related aggravated stalking, with 71 involving those classified as “other,” and 55 involving victims who were spouses of the accused.
- Simple stalking – there was a total of 384 reported incidents of domestic violence-related simple stalking, with 140 involving victims who were spouses, 99 involving co-habitants, and 93 involving victims classified as “other.”
- Threat/intimidation – there was a total of 1,551 reported incidents of domestic violence-related threat/intimidation, with 389 involving victims of spouses, 322 involving victims classified as “other,” and 304 involving co-habitants of the accused.
It is important to note that while some incidents of domestic violence in Florida are truthful, many are false, misleading, or simply fail to meet the definition of “domestic violence.” Notwithstanding, only a skilled Gainesville Domestic Violence Defense Attorney can assist an accused to mount a strong defense.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence Pursuant to Florida Law?
Domestic violence offenses in Florida include a variety of different conduct that occurs between household or family members. 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 center inquiry of a domestic violence matter is whether the victim and the alleged offender are household or family members under Florida’s domestic violence law. A household or family member, under Florida law, constitutes any of the following:
- Former spouses;
- Persons related by marriage or blood;
- Persons residing in the same dwelling who hold themselves out together as family;
- Persons who formerly resided together as a family; and
- Persons who share a child or children in common, regardless of whether they were married.
Domestic Violence Injunctions in Florida
Facing domestic violence charges in Gainesville, Florida is just one part of the entire picture. Meaning, in many instances, an individual who is being charged with domestic violence will also face what is known as a domestic violence injunction, which is a civil – not criminal – remedy. Keep in mind that a person who seeks a domestic violence injunction must adhere to certain legal requirements. Under Florida Statute § 741.30, such requirements include:
- The individual looking to obtain the injunction, referred to as a petitioner, must prove that he or she is a household or family member, and
- The minor child/petitioner is a present victim of domestic violence; or
- The petitioner, or minor child, has a reasonable belief that he or she will imminently become a domestic violence victim.
The petitioner/victim must file a court-approved form known as a petition in a Gainesville court. A civil court judge will examine the petition once it is filed in order to determine whether the petition meets the applicable statutory requirements. Given the severe nature of domestic violence cases, most judges issue a temporary injunction in order to protect the alleged victim from imminent harm.
If a judge issues a temporary domestic violence injunction, the accused, referred to as the respondent, will receive service of process of the petition and the temporary violence injunction order. The respondent will need to appear before the court approximately fifteen days after being served with the injunction. At the time of the hearing, both the respondent and the petitioner will submit evidence to the court, including arguments and witness testimony. The presiding judge will examine the case and decide whether a final/permanent domestic violence injunction is warranted.
Given the fact that domestic violence injunctions involve claims of criminal acts, anyone who faces a domestic violence injunction case must hire a lawyer who exclusively handles criminal and civil injunction cases. While domestic violence injunctions are civil cases, they dramatically affect a respondent’s constitutional rights and expose him or her to criminal liability if the injunction is violated.
Because domestic violence injunctions involve allegations of criminal conduct, anyone facing a domestic violence injunction in Gainesville 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
There are a number of different types of injunctions that a petitioner can seek under Florida law. Under Florida Statute § 784.046, an alleged victim of violence can seek the following types of injunctions: dating violence injunctions, sexual violence injunctions, and repeat violence injunctions. Furthermore, under Florida Statute § 784.045, an alleged victim of stalking can obtain a stalking injunction, which includes both cyberstalking and acts of physical stalking. It is important to understand that domestic violence may include acts that constitute repeat violence, dating violence, cyberstalking, stalking, and sexual violence. Accordingly, it is critical that you contact a competent Gainesville Domestic Violence Defense Attorney if you are the subject of any type of protective injunction.
No-Contact Orders – The Early Stages Following Arrest on Domestic Violence Charges
Once an individual is placed under arrest for domestic violence in Gainesville, he or she is put in jail until the initial court appearance, which often occurs within 24 hours after his or her arrest. In some instances, it may be longer if the arrest occurs in the later nighttime hours. Pursuant to Florida law, the individual who is the subject of domestic violence charges will receive a Standard No-Contact Order during the initial court appearance, which requires the accused to avoid physical and verbal contact with the alleged victim, regardless of whether a domestic violence injunction has been sought. Regardless of whether the accused is innocent or guilty of domestic violence, he or she must adhere to the terms of the No-Contact Order, as the failure to do so may lead to further criminal charges and jail time. Pursuant to Florida Statute § 741.29(6), an individual who is in violation of a pretrial condition such as a No-Contact Order, will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, which is associated with a jail term of no more than a year and a monetary fine not to exceed $1,000.
If an alleged victim does not wish to pursue charges against the accused, the parties can pursue a modification of the No-Contact Order by filing a Motion to Modify Conditions of Release with the court. Notwithstanding, it is critical that before taking any action, the accused must consult with a skilled Gainesville Domestic Violence Defense Attorney as soon as possible. Domestic violence matters are dynamic, as they can dramatically chance as time progresses. Deciding to go ahead in one’s case without the assistance of an experienced legal advocate can drastically affect the accused’s legal rights.
Domestic Violence and Battery Under Florida Law
A substantial number of domestic violence cases in Gainesville 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 Associated with a Conviction for Domestic Violence Battery in Gainesville, Florida
Domestic violence battery, also referred to as domestic battery, constitutes a misdemeanor in the first degree under Florida law. If a person is convicted of domestic battery, he or she may be sent to jail for up to one year and be forced to pay a monetary fine of up to $1,000. A person who faces third-degree felony domestic battery charges will be sent to jail for up to five years and be forced to pay a monetary fine of up to $5,000. In addition to monetary fines and jail time, convicted persons will also face the following repercussions:
- Probation for up to one year;
- Facing a No-Contact Order;
- A potential domestic violence injunction;
- A minimum five-day jail term if the accused is found guilty and the offense(s) involved bodily injury;
- Loss of the right to own/possess ammunition and firearms;
- Community service; and
- Completion of a twenty six week long Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP).
In many instances, the above-listed repercussions may seem worse than the imposition of jail time or monetary penalties. Anyone is being charged with domestic violence should take all measures possible to avoid facing the consequences associated with same that abridge one’s constitutional rights.
Additional Domestic Violence Offenses Pursuant to Florida Law
As noted above, domestic violence offenses go significantly beyond assault and battery. Under Florida law, several crimes involving household or family members fall under the category of domestic violence, and most offenses constitute felonies and serious misdemeanors. A person who has been charged with domestic violence often faces several criminal charges where the combined repercussions and penalties can amount to decades long jail terms and thousands of dollars in monetary fines, in addition to the limitation on one’s constitutional rights. Examples of domestic violence offenses in Florida, 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
Kidnapping, Kidnapping Child Under Age 13, and Aggravated Kidnapping
False Imprisonment, False Imprisonment of Child Under Age 13, and Aggravated False Imprisonment
Homicide/Murder, and Attempted Murder
Manslaughter, Aggravated Manslaughter of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult, and Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child
Weapons and Firearms Offenses
Abuse and Neglect of Children
Child Abuse, Aggravated Child Abuse, Child Endangerment, and Child Neglect
Newborn Infants, and Treatment of Surrendered Newborn Infant (not a crime if infant is surrendered to emergency personnel)
Contributing to the Delinquency or Dependency of a Child
Nonsupport of Dependents
Sexual Performance by a Child
Unlawful Desertion of a Child
Sex Crimes and Lewd/Lascivious Behavior
Sexual Assault/Sexual Battery, Forcible Rape
Lewd or Lascivious Offenses Committed Upon or in the Presence of Persons Less than 16 Years of Age, including Forcible Fondling
Offenses by Adult Involving Minors, Intent of Legislature in Prosecuting Such Offenses
Forcing, Compelling, or Coercing Another to Become a Prostitute
Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of Elderly Persons or Disabled Adults
Abuse, Aggravated Abuse, and Neglect of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult
Lewd or Lascivious Offenses Upon or in the Presence of an Elderly Person or Disabled Person
Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult
Injunction for Protection Against Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult
Violation of an Injunction for Protection Against Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult
Death Resulting from Apparent Drug Overdose and Reporting Requirements
Poisoning Food or Water
Desertion, Withholding Support, and Proviso
Depriving Crime Victim of Medical Care
Perjury by Contradictory Statements
False Reports to Law Enforcement Authorities
False Information to Law Enforcement During Investigation
False Official Statements
Verbal or Written Threats, and Extortion
Written Threats to Kill, Do Bodily Injury, or Conduct a Mass Shooting or an Act of Terrorism
Tampering with a Witness
Trespass in Structure or Conveyance
Trespass on Property Other Than Structure or Conveyance
Bigamy, and Incest
Although domestic violence matters may be similar, no two cases are ever the same. Accordingly, one case in Gainesville may not turn out the same as another case. There are several factors that affect domestic violence cases in Gainesville, and the right defense begins with the right Gainesville Domestic Violence Defense Attorney.
Building a Defense in a Gainesville Domestic Violence Case
All those who face domestic violence charges require a strong defense strategy. Alongside a skilled Gainesville Domestic Violence Defense Attorney, an accused can mount a strong defense that can help to influence a favorable outcome in his or her case. An attorney will address all aspects of the domestic violence case, and consider various factors when developing his or her client’s defense. These factors include, without limitation, the client’s criminal background, if any, the nature of the pending domestic violence charges, and whether there are grounds to seek a reduction or dismissal of the criminal charges.
There are a variety of defenses that may apply in domestic violence cases. Specifically, a Gainesville Domestic Violence Defense Attorney may present said defenses, which include, without limitation, the following:
- Lack of evidence;
- The victim did not sustain any injuries;
- There is evidence that the victim is being vindictive in raising domestic violence charges against the defendant;
- Defense of other individuals;
- Defense of property;
- Consensual confrontation or mutual combat; and
- Stand your ground.
The Sealing and Expunging of Domestic Violence Convictions in Gainesville
Any individual who submits a guilty plea to the court or is found guilty at trial will have a permanent criminal record. This means that the record cannot be expunged or sealed in Florida, and any person who conducts a criminal background on the offender can see the conviction. Notwithstanding, it is critical that you obtain the advisement of a skilled Gainesville Domestic Violence Defense Attorney to learn more about your legal options in this regard.
Early Negotiation is Beneficial in a Gainesville Domestic Violence Case
As with all criminal cases, engaging in early negotiations is beneficial and can be accomplished with the help of a skilled and reputable Gainesville Domestic Violence Defense Attorney. An attorney who routinely handles domestic violence cases is in the best position to negotiate a domestic violence case in order to secure a reduction or dismissal of the outstanding charges. Specifically, depending upon the case, an experienced advocate may be able to get a serious felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor, which can result in little to no jail time.
Enrolling in the Gainesville Domestic Violence Course to Avoid Prosecution
Unless a domestic violence case has been dismissed on legal grounds, it is advisable for an accused to take positive steps to mitigate the damage associated with the case and potential conviction. One way to do so is to enroll in a domestic violence course and/or seek mental health treatment. This is especially important if the parties to the case decide to maintain a relationship with one another. Enrollment in a domestic violence course may help an offender avoid prosecution, however, this may not be a fruitful option for everyone. Consult with a skilled Gainesville Domestic Violence Defense Attorney to learn if this is a viable option for you given the facts and circumstances of your case.
Contact the Gainesville Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys at Musca Law Today!
If you have been charged with domestic violence in Gainesville, contact the skilled team of Gainesville Defense Lawyers at Musca Law. We have over 150 years of collective legal experience representing those accused of domestic violence throughout the state of Florida. We are ready now to advise you of your legal rights and options. Don’t wait, as your freedom and livelihood depend upon it! Contact us now at (888) 484-5057.