Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers in Miami, Florida
Domestic violence is a problem in Miami and across Florida. At first glance, one might think that lower socioeconomic families, people suffering from substance abuse, or another deeply-rooted psychological problem are the only people who perpetrate or suffer domestic violence. Research shows that incidents of domestic violence transcend socioeconomic, racial, sexual, and religious boundaries and can occur at any time, although domestic violence incidents are more common in households that are in the throes of financial problems, substance abuse, or marital discord.
Psychologists suggest that domestic violence spawns from a need to control the other person in the relationship. The need for physical and emotional control is especially great in heterosexual males; however, women can commit acts of domestic violence, as well as men in a same-sex relationship.
The person accused of domestic violence crime in Miami stands to lose many personal freedoms as a result of domestic violence allegations. Prosecutors in Miami work extremely hard on domestic violence cases. They push for tough prison sentences in every case. Judges, too, are ready to incarcerate a domestic violence offender for a long period if convicted. Consequently, any person who is suspected of committing an act of domestic violence in Miami, or who has been arrested on allegations of a domestic violence charge, must contact a highly-skilled and reputable Miami Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer immediately.
Domestic Violence Statistic in Florida
Statistics accumulated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement regarding incidents of domestic violence in Florida are from 2018. In 2018, the 104,914 incidents of domestic violence were reported to Florida law enforcement agencies. Although the term “domestic violence” encompasses a wide range of criminal offenses under Florida law, simple assault was reported in about 80% of the criminal offenses.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement maintains statistics on domestic violence charges in Florida that include homicide, sexual assault, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, stalking, and intimidation or threats. According to the compiled statistics in 2018:
- Homicide — 196 domestic violence-related homicides were reported. More specifically, 70 homicide cases involved spouses, 35 of the homicides involved people who were cohabitating, and 34 homicides involved children.
- Manslaughter — Nineteen domestic violence manslaughter cases were reported, and eleven of the victims were reportedly children of the alleged perpetrator.
- Forcible Rape — Law enforcement agencies investigated 1,783 forcible rape charges categorized as domestic violence, including 287 forcible rape investigations involved children who accused a parent of the crime, and 376 incidents reportedly included another family member as the perpetrator of the crime.
- Forcible Fondling — Forcible fondling accounted for 841 domestic violence crimes in 2018. 233 out of the 841 forcible fondling incidents reportedly involved children accusing a parent of the crime, and 308 incidents in which the alleged victim accused another family member of perpetrating the act.
- Aggravated Assault — Aggravated assault was reported in 16,000 incidents, with 4,513 aggravated assault investigations involved people living together, 2,950 aggravated assault investigations involved another person, and 223 children accused a parent of aggravated assault.
- Simple Assault — Simple assault was the most widely-reported domestic violence crime in 2018. Among those, 83,980 simple assault reports were made. Those reports involved 24,614 incidents involving people who lived together, 17,585 incidents involving an assault allegation among spouses, and 14,150 cases in which the perpetrator was listed as “other.”
- Aggravated Stalking — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement compiled 160 aggravated stalking reports categorized as domestic violence. Also, 71 of the reported domestic violence aggravated stalking incidents involved another person, whereas 55 of the reported cases involved spouses.
- Simple Stalking — Simple stalking accounted for 384 domestic violence incidents, and 140 of those cases involved spouses, 99 simple stalking domestic violence investigations involved people who lived together, and 93 incidents could be categorized as “other.”
- Threats/Intimidation — 1,551 domestic violence investigations involved a threat or intimidation. Spouses filed threats or intimidation charges in 389 incidents, 322 claims of threats or intimidation were reported as “other,” while 304 incidents investigated involved co-habitants.
Reports of domestic violence incidents do not always result in charges being sought by the prosecution. Notwithstanding, the state attorney’s office prosecutes domestic violence charges in numerous incidents in which the accused has a valid defense. An experienced and aggressive Miami Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer can formulate an effective defense against domestic violence allegations and preserve the accused’s rights.
Miami, Florida Domestic Violence Laws
Section 741.28(2) of the Florida Statutes defines the phrase domestic violence. An act categorized as domestic violence includes a violent act between the perpetrator and victim who may be described as family members or household members. Under §741.28(2), violent acts include:
- Aggravated Assault,
- Sexual Assault,
- Aggravated Battery,
- Sexual Battery,
- False Imprisonment,
- Aggravated Stalking; and
- Another Crime Which Results in Physical Injury or Death.
The phrase family or household member includes a broad spectrum of relationships. Relationships that qualify as domestic under §741.28(2) include:
- Present and Former Spouses,
- People Who are Related by Whether by Blood or Whether by Marriage,
- People Who Live Together and Hold Themselves Out as a Familial Unit,
- People Who Once Lived Together as a Family Unit, in addition to
- People Who Had a Child Together Irrespective of Whether They Ever Lived Together.
Anyone of the enumerated relationships may be categorized as domestic violence provided that the individuals involved currently or formerly lived together, except for individuals who had a child together.
Injunctions to Prevent Domestic Violence in Miami-Dade County, Florida
The alleged victim of domestic violence frequently seeks additional protection of the court with a domestic violence injunction. According to Florida Statutes §741.30, the alleged victim of domestic violence may seek an injunction for protection (which are also known as “protective orders” and “restraining orders”) even if the complainant did not request criminal charges.
The person applying to the court for protection is called the petitioner. The petitioner can apply for the court’s protection individually or on behalf of a minor child. The petitioner must allege that she or he (or the minor) is a family member or household member of the perpetrator and that the petitioner reasonably believes she or he (or the minor) is imminently in danger of becoming a domestic violence victim.
The judge sitting in the Miami Court in which the petitioner filed her or his request will review the petition for domestic violence injunction to determine whether the petitioner has met the preliminary requirements to qualify for a temporary injunction. Judges in Miami prefer to maintain the status quo and will issue the preliminary injunction to prevent a domestic violence incident.
The final hearing on the petition for an injunction must take place within fifteen days of the date which the court issued the temporary restraining order. The respondent or the person whom the petitioner alleges is likely to commit an act of domestic violence must receive formal notice of the final hearing date. The respondent must be represented by counsel so that his or her rights are fully protected. The court will not appoint counsel to defend an injunction because the issue is a “civil” proceeding and not a “criminal matter,” even though enforcement of the injunction is compelled by the threat of criminal prosecution and incarceration. Moreover, the request for an injunction could be paired with a criminal case. Therefore, the respondent needs competent and skilled legal counsel to defend extremely serious legal matters both in civil and criminal court.
No-Contact Orders in Miami Domestic Violence Cases
The U.S. Constitution only requires the police to generate probable cause to arrest a person on suspicion of a crime, including domestic violence crimes. The police have no obligation to accumulate sufficient evidence to prove the allegations true beyond a reasonable doubt. The reasonable doubt standard only applies in court, and not during the initial stages of a domestic violence investigation. As a result, the police arrest people accused of domestic violence offenses who will never be convicted. Notwithstanding, a person held in custody on domestic violence charges must remain in jail for 24 hours or until the arrestee can be brought before a judge. Additionally, the person under arrest must abide by a no-contact order imposed by statute.
Florida Statutes §741.29(6) establishes the automatic no-contact order for a person under arrest for a domestic violence crime. Not only must the person under arrest have no contact, directly or indirectly, with the alleged victim, but the accused must also stay away from the person as well.
A violation of the automatic no-contact order is a crime and is punishable by incarceration. The urge to contact the complainant to discuss the incident, apologize, or try to convince the complainant not to follow through with the charges, calling an experienced and skilled Miami Domestic Violence Defense Attorney is in your best interest. Contacting the alleged victim personally or asking another person to speak on your behalf if a crime and could irreparably damage your defense.
Domestic Violence Penalties in Miami, Florida
Criminal sanctions in Florida are set by statute and categorized by degrees. For example, simple assault is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a term of incarceration not to exceed one year along with a fine not to exceed $1,000.00. More severe crimes carry heavier penalties. The crime of aggravated domestic battery is a third-degree felony that is punishable by five years in prison. Aggravated domestic battery is also referred to as a felony battery.
Imprisonment and fines are not the only penalties that could be imposed by a judge. Additional sanctions include:
- Batterer’s Intervention Program;
- One Year of Probation;
- Minimum-mandatory five-day jail sentence for a domestic violence conviction with an injury;
- Community service obligation;
- Loss of rights to possess firearms and ammunition;
- No-contact order; and
- Subject to Domestic Violence Injunction.
The consequences of a conviction for a crime of domestic violence are severe and enduring. Therefore, obtaining the services of a tough and seasoned Miami Domestic Violence Defense Attorney will increase your chances of avoiding these life-altering consequences.
Domestic Violence Crimes in Miami, Florida
As discussed briefly above, the term domestic violence is a generic term designed to encompass numerous criminal offenses. Domestic violence crimes include more than assault or battery crimes. Therefore, having the services of a knowledgeable and skilled Miami Domestic Violence Defense Attorney with diverse experience defending numerous crimes in Florida will have the greatest impact on the accused. Conversely, a defense lawyer with limited experience or who focuses on one particular area of the law may not be as effective as a Miami Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer with decades of experience in a diversified criminal practice.
Additional offenses commonly charged as domestic violence crimes or in conjunction with domestic violence offenses in Miami are:
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 an 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
Defenses for Domestic Violence Allegations in Miami, Florida
A skilled and experienced Miami Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer will analyze the facts and law applicable to the case to devise a strong defense. Each domestic violence case in Miami is unique as the people involved. Therefore, the defense strategy must meet the needs of a particular case. With that said, commonly-asserted pre-trial defenses may include:
- Moving for Dismissal of the charges when the facts do not assert a crime;
- Moving to Suppress statements of the accused when interviewed or questioned by law enforcement; and
- Moving to Suppress unlawfully seized evidence such as cellphone data without a warrant.
Trial defenses include:
- Defense of Others;
- Defending Property;
- Highlighting inconsistent statements made by the alleged victim;
- Highlighting the absence of injuries;
- Confronting the alleged victim’s motive to lie, vindictive nature, or bias toward the accused;
- Stand Your Ground; and
- Mutual Combat.
Avoiding Domestic Violence Prosecution
Facing domestic violence charges in Miami could be avoided if the accused engages a seasoned and reputable Miami Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer immediately. No lawyer, despite having decades of experience, cannot guarantee a result. However, having a thorough understanding of Florida law and first-rate negotiating skills can help the person accused of domestic violence crime in Miami avoid prosecution altogether or obtain a favorable result that does not include jail time. Entering counseling without a court order demonstrates to the prosecution and the court that you are serious about treating the problems which gave rise to the incident.
The person accused of a domestic violence offense in Miami must understand that time is not on their side. Consulting with a Miami Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer immediately after release from jail or even from custody can give the accused the advantage over the prosecution. By engaging counsel as soon as possible, the accused can work with his or her Miami Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer to develop an aggressive defense strategy.
Call the Miami Domestic Violence Lawyers with Musca Law
Domestic violence allegations are extraordinarily serious legal matters that have significant incidental and collateral consequences. Engaging Musca Law to help you avoid the harsh consequences of a domestic violence conviction in Miami. Musca Law’s Miami Defense Lawyers work relentlessly to protect their clients’ freedom. With over 150 years of combined criminal defense trial experience in Florida, Musca Law’s Miami Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers will be there for you and your family. Call Musca Law today at 888-484-5057 to arrange a consultation with a highly-qualified Miami Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer.