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Domestic Violence Charges and Penalties. Know Your Rights

dv-3-150x150A simple argument between two spouses can very simply turn into a very dramatic and awful experience. It happens every day of the year in families across the United States and throughout, Florida. A husband and wife have a shouting match, and with tensions rising, things can quickly escalate to a physical fight. The physical fight ends with a 911 call and police at the door. In Palm Beach County, there is a must arrest policy, meaning that if the Police respond to a 911 call regarding domestic violence someone is going to jail.

Domestic violence cases cover a broad range of violence ranging from verbal abuse to sexual homicide and often times are considered the most violent according to statistics.  In addition to facing criminal penalties, which are more severe than a regular assault or battery charges, all parties involve have to deal with consequences of unrest in personal life and damage to long-term relationships, including those relationships with their children.

In most states, a domestic relationship includes those people in your immediate family, as well as anyone you might be living with. You could be facing Domestic Violent charges in Florida if you are accused of assaulting or battering:

  • Spouse or ex-spouse
  • Someone you share a child with
  • Child or step-child
  • Parent or step-parent
  • Brother or sister
  • Aunt or uncle
  • Grandparent or grandchild
  • Roommate or ex-roommate
  • Boyfriend or Girlfriend

Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. In Florida, however, the most prevailing Domestic Violent crime is when someone actually touches or strikes another person against their will. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.

  • One in three women nationally will report domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • On average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day.
  • One in five teenagers reports having been hit, slapped, or pushed by a partner. 

Felony Domestic Violence

Again, domestic violence charges are criminal charges that are characterized by physical abuse, physical touching, and imminent physical threats of harm as between two people involved in a close familial or social relationship.

When a person is charged with domestic violence, the suspect is accused of behaving violently towards a family member or a person they live with. Violence may involve not only physical harm, but also the threat of physical harm. The laws governing domestic violence vary from state to state, but many jurisdictions consider felony domestic violence the most serious type of domestic violence offense.  In Florida, Felony Domestic Violence is achieved in several ways with the most prevailing factors being:

  1. was a weapon used
  2. was the victim permanently scared
  3. was the victim reported to have broken bones
  4. was this the offenders charged and convicted of three or more battery offenses.

If any of the above four elements are answered in the affirmative, then the accused may be criminal charged and prosecuted in Florida for Felony Domestic or Felony Battery which can land the accused in prison for up 5 years.

So in comparison, Misdemeanor Domestic Battery charges are typically considered less serious crimes and often mean the defendant is subject to lighter penalties. For example, a person who is convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence may spend only a short period of time in jail or may be given fines or counseling instead of jail time. Palm Beach County, as with most Counties throughout Florida, view Domestic Violence as big business for the Courts, Victim Services, Probation and other ancillary elements like drug and alcohol testing facilities. If the accused pleads guilty of Domestic Violence then they face an array of probation type sanctions, at least 6 months of counseling, step fines and court cost, no use of alcohol and other intrusive sanctions that must be completed before they are released from the Courts.

When a person is convicted of a felony charge, the accused stands a chance of facing a prison sentence and much harsher penalties. Criminal law determines whether or not domestic violence is a felony or a misdemeanor, based on whether or not the victim is injured and the extent of those injuries and the prior criminal record of the accused. If a victim doesn’t sustain injuries or sustains only minor ones, some jurisdictions, like Florida, may charge the defendant with misdemeanor domestic violence. If, however, the victim is seriously injured, this may result in a Felony domestic violence charge.

Immediate Arrest

In many domestic violence cases, the police are able to make an immediate arrest when they are called out. This means if your spouse calls the police and alleges an assault, they can come and arrest you if there is any physical evidence that such an assault took place. Bruising, red marks, and lacerations would justify your arrest. Regardless of how they might have gotten there, or who initiated any fight.

The police have a requirement to take action and potentially prevent further abuse or violence based on any small evidence or a past or continuing threat.

Penalties for Crimes of Domestic Violence in Florida

Domestic violence crimes in Florida are punished by type and class of offense under Fla. Stat. §§ 775.082-084. Additionally, any person who is found guilty of intentionally causing bodily harm to a person through an act of domestic violence must spend a minimum of five days in jail. The following examples represent how certain domestic violence crimes are classified under Florida law:

Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Charges

  • Domestic assault
  • Domestic battery
  • Violation of protective order

Felony Domestic Violence Charges

  • Child abuse
  • Child neglect
  • Domestic battery by strangulation

Domestic assault is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or up to $500 in fines. Domestic battery and restraining order violations are first-degree misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Child abuse or child neglect without bodily harm and domestic battery by strangulation are third-degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine. If bodily harm is caused by an act of child abuse or child neglect, it is a second-degree felony with a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Any plea of guilty or no contest for a domestic violence charge will result in at least a year of probation and mandatory enrollment in a batterer’s prevention program, as will a decision of withheld adjudication. Domestic violence charges can also have serious social ramifications. Working with an experienced West Palm Beach criminal attorney could be the difference between facing punitive sentencing and achieving a more favorable outcome like reduction or dismissal of charges, or even a not guilty verdict.

Andrew D. Stine, P.A. | Domestic Violence Charge Defense Lawyer in Palm Beach County

If you have been arrested and charged on a domestic violence offense in Palm Beach County, take the critical first step in your defense and contact Andrew D. Stine, P.A. immediately. Andrew Stine has over 10 years of criminal defense experience, and knows what it takes to defend clients like you against charges of domestic violence in the Palm Beach County area. Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew D. Stine has resolved Thousands of Domestic Violent Cases throughout Palm Beach County, Florida.  The vast majority of the clients have their cases dismissed or Nolle Porssed. For expert legal advice, number one attorney services and a winning outcome on your Domestic Violent Case: Hire Stine or do the Time. Your first consultation with Andrew D. Stine, P.A. is free, so call 561.880.4300 today and schedule your sit down with the experience of Attorney Andrew D. Stine.

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