Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers in West Palm Beach, Florida
How to Beat a Domestic Violence Charge in Florida
Domestic violence charges in West Palm Beach must not be taken lightly. A person arrested for a crime of domestic violence in West Palm Beach must hire a lawyer with a reputation as a tough, aggressive, and skilled advocate who understands how to defend a domestic violence case successfully. Otherwise, the person accused of domestic violence could face significant imprisonment, heavy fines, and probation conditions that are extremely difficult to complete.
A person charged by police with domestic violence in West Palm Beach needs the assistance of a seasoned West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer to ensure that accused receives all of the legal safeguards guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The government, represented by the state's attorney, has a strong interest in seeking severe sentences for offenders convicted of domestic violence. Prosecutors are highly-trained and motivated to end the "cycle of domestic violence." Also, law enforcement officers receive substantial training in identifying domestic violence victims and apprehending the individuals allegedly responsible for the crime.
A highly-experienced West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer understands the tremendous stakes facing a client upon a domestic violence conviction and will exhaust all efforts to help the client avoid prosecution or win an acquittal. A less-experienced attorney will not have the necessary skills to defend a serious domestic violence incident successfully. Allowing the overworked and overburdened public defender to represent the accused, who does not have time or the resources to devote to defending the case as it should be defended, is not a viable option. Therefore, a West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Defense Attorney with a reputation for excellence could give the person accused by an alleged victim of a domestic violence crime the best opportunity to experience justice.
Domestic Violence Statistics in Florida
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) concluded that 104,914 domestic violence incidents occurred in 2018. The FDLE breaks down the charges more specifically as:
- Criminal Homicide — FDLE indicates that 196 domestic violence criminal homicides occurred in 2018. The numbers show that 70 of the cases involved spouses, 35 people allegedly killed a household member, and 34 parents reportedly killed their children.
- Manslaughter — The FDLE defined nineteen domestic violence killings as manslaughter. Eleven of those manslaughter investigations involved a parent and a child.
- Forcible Rape — The FDLE concluded that police investigated 1,783 domestic violence forcible rapes in 2018. A closer look reveals domestic violence forcible rape involved a family member 376 times, and parents reportedly forcibly raped a child 287 times.
- Forcible Fondling — The FDLE accumulated 841 reports of forcible fondling defined as domestic violence. Children accused a family member on 308 occasions, and 223 children identified a parent as their abuser.
- Aggravated Assault — The FLDE recorded almost 16,000 complaints of aggravated assault. The FDLE categorized 4,513 complaints between household members, 2,950 incidents that fall into the FDLE's "other" category, and 2,873 incidents occurred between spouses.
- Simple Assault — Florida law enforcement agencies investigated 83,890 complaints of domestic violence reports alleging simple assault. Out of the 83,890 incidents reported, 24,614 were between household members, spouses were involved in 17,585 incidents, and 14,150 cases could fell into FDLE's "other" category.
- Aggravated Stalking — FDLE took 160 reports of aggravated stalking in 2018. In 55 of the 160 incidents involved spouses. The FDLE list 71 cases in the "other" category.
- Simple Stalking — FDLE complied with 384 reports of domestic violence incidents alleging simple stalking. Spouse accounted for 140 of the reports. The FDLE defined 99 cases as "other," and 99 complaints involving household members.
- Threats or Intimidation — Out of the 1,551 reports of threats/intimidation received by the FDLE, 389 cases involved spouses, 304 incidents involved household members, and 322 were defined as "other."
Every person with domestic violence charges in Clearwater, Florida, is protected by rights granted by the United States Constitution along with 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 domestic violence episode 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 Laws in Florida
The definition of domestic violence comes from §741.28(2) of the Florida Laws. Under §741.28, a crime of domestic violence occurs when a violent act is committed by one family or household member to another.
Violent acts under Florida law include:
- Sexual battery,
- Sexual assault,
- Aggravated stalking,
- Aggravated battery,
- Aggravated assault,
- False imprisonment,
- Kidnapping, or
- Another crime containing the element of force or violence that could lead to death or serious physical injury.
In addition to the list of charges, the statute contains provisions that describe the nature of a domestic relationship that qualifies for a domestic violence prosecution. Relationships that qualify for a domestic violence prosecution include:
- Spouses or former spouses,
- People related by blood or by marriage,
- People living in the same household or once lived in the same residence, and hold themselves out to as a family despite no formal union, and
- People who have children together, even if the couple never lived together.
The prosecution must allege both domestic violence elements before the offense qualifies as a domestic violence crime. A dedicated and knowledgeable West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Defense Attorney could explain the importance of the prosecution designating the crime as one of domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Injunctions in West Palm Beach, Florida
Section 741.30 of the Florida Statutes gives a judge the discretion to issue an injunction against domestic violence to protect the victim. The injunction is a civil proceeding; however, any violation of the injunction raises the possibility of facing another crime.
The alleged victim of domestic violence petitions the court for the court's protection. The person who files the request is the petitioner; the person against whom the victim requests protection is the respondent.
A judge must review the petition to see if it complies with Florida law. Secondly, the judge could order a temporary injunction, a temporary restraining order, or a temporary injunction without hearing from the respondent. If the judge issues a temporary restraining order, then the court must hold a final hearing fifteen days from the date the temporary order was issued.
The respondent has the right to counsel and to argue against the injunction. A domestic violence injunction is a severe impediment to a person's liberty. The judge could order the respondent to stay away from particular people, not to contact sure others, including their children, live in another location other than his or her home, avoid specific public spaces, and surrender firearms and ammunition.
Although it is tempting to respond to the injunction personally, having a skilled West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer argue against the injunction could protect the individual from living with an injunction and avoid a massive pitfall that could ruin any criminal defense in the criminal case.
Automatic Injunction in West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Cases
Section 741.29 of the Florida Statutes orders the person arrested for a crime of domestic violence to stay away from the alleged victim and to have no contact with the alleged victim, either personally or through a third party. The law allows for each side to cool down. Additionally, the automatic no contact order aims to prevent retaliation and intimidation. Any violation of the automatic injunction provides the authorities with grounds to seek additional penalties for failing to abide by the automatic restraining order.
The police have no authority to release a person arrested for a domestic violence offense on bail or bond until 24 hours pass since the person's arrest. A judge could grant the arrestee's release if the person under arrest can go to court in the first 24 hours. Otherwise, the accused must remain in jail.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Convictions in West Palm Beach
The possible punishments for a domestic violence conviction depend on the underlying crime. The accused faces the punishment provided by the law for the underlying crime and other sanctions because the crime is one of domestic violence. In addition to the maximum punishment for the underlying offense, the judge could impose the following conditions after a domestic violence conviction:
- Batterer's Intervention Program (26 weeks),
- Supervised probation for one year,
- Five days in jail, minimum, if the victim suffered a physical injury,
- Community service,
- Loss of the right to own and possess firearms and ammunition,
- No-contact and stay-away orders, and
- Potentially living under a permanent injunction against domestic violence.
West Palm Beach judges must take each domestic violence case seriously. A person convicted of a domestic violence offense could face a significant punishment, even for a relatively minor offense, because the allegations meet Florida's domestic violence statute.
Domestic Violence Offenses in West Palm Beach
The prosecution could bring domestic violence charges for almost any offense in Florida. The chart below identifies most of the charges recognized in Florida law that could also be charged as domestic violence crimes.
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 the 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
The government, represented by the prosecution, has the unwavering burden to prove the defendant guilty of every element of every charge listed above. Every person accused or arrested for a domestic violence crime is presumed innocent. The name of the charge is worthless. The name of the charge only serves as notice to the accused of the offenses he or she faces, and nothing more.
Defenses to Domestic Violence Crimes in Palm Beach County
The types of defenses a person accused of domestic violence could assert depends on many issues. One defense might work better in one particular case but could lack the same effectiveness in another. Relying on the opinion of a seasoned West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Defense Attorney gives the accused an edge. An experienced West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer will know which defenses have the greatest chance of success after evaluation all of the facts and thoroughly researching the relevant law.
The defenses with the greatest likelihood of success are often complementary. Pre-trial motions to suppress and dismiss work hand-in-hand. A motion to dismiss argues that the court must dismiss the case for lack of evidence. A motion to suppress evidence argues the judge should exclude from the trial all evidence seized by the law enforcement agents in violation of the rights of the accused. Arguing motions to suppress or dismiss might be tremendously successful in one case. Still, it might not be relevant in another case. The facts of the case will determine how a case should proceed.
A motion to dismiss essentially argues that the prosecution has so little evidence of guilt that there is no possible way the state's attorney could win a conviction. A defendant who persuades a judge to dismiss the case will not face trial. Unfortunately, the standard of probable cause is all the prosecution must satisfy to proceed to trial. However, arguing a motion to dismiss could lead to advantageous plea negotiations if the prosecution realizes that the case is weak.
Motions to suppress are another avenue of pre-trial defense that could provide the defense with a significant advantage over the prosecution. Motions to suppress are pleadings that challenge the lawfulness of police conduct.
A judge must exclude all evidence taken by police under circumstances that violate the accused's rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The prosecution could lose valuable evidence if the defense convinces the judge that items police seized, including any statements made by the accused, must be suppressed because of a constitutional violation.
Trial defenses focus on the weaknesses of the government's case and exploit them. A winning trial defense's goal is to preserve doubt in the jurors' minds that the accused is guilty. The defense has no responsibility to prove the defendant is innocent. A strong defense emphasizes the burden of proof held by the government, and it shows why the state's evidence cannot rebut the presumption of innocence.
All of the witnesses who testify for the government come across as believable when the prosecution asks them questions. Cross-examination could shake that belief and show the jury the truth about the witnesses called by the prosecutors. Cross-examining witnesses about their inconsistent statements, ability to perceive, the bias or prejudice the witness has against the person on trial, or exploring the witness's motive to lie could paint a more accurate picture of the witness for the jury and show why the jury must not find the witness credible.
Call Musca Law Immediately!
The successful defense of a West Palm Beach Domestic Violence case begins by calling Musca Law at (888) 484-5057 as soon as possible. Musca Law's West Palm Beach Defense Attorneys are ready 24/7 to protect the rights of anyone accused of domestic violence crime. The sooner Musca Law becomes involved in the defense; the sooner valuable evidence could be preserved, witnesses could be interviewed. At the same time, the event remains fresh in their memory, and any additional law enforcement investigation could be closely monitored to prevent unlawful or unjust actions. Remember, you never have to speak to law enforcement. You should remain silent and refer them to the West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers with Musca Law.