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Palm Beach Domestic Violence Lawyer: Responding Sheriffs Are There to Make an Arrest

When law enforcement arrives after a 911 domestic violence call, it’s not to act as marriage counselors or therapists. They are there to take someone to jail.

In Palm Beach County, FL when a domestic disturbance is called into law enforcement officials through the 911 system or through the non-emergency number, police must respond, says Palm Beach domestic violence lawyer Andrew D. Stine. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is not responding to the domestic violence call in order to be a marriage counselor or family therapist. The deputy sheriff is responding to the domestic violence call to take someone to jail; and if children are present in the home, DCF will be notified by the responding officer. Palm Beach County has a “must arrest” policy on all domestic battery calls. Moreover, Palm Beach County also has a policy that all law enforcement officers who respond to domestic disturbance calls where children are present must contact DCF.

Many people falsely believe that calling the sheriff’s office on their spouse or on those living with them in a familial relationship in a domestic violence situation just to have the offending partner removed from the residence for a time to cool down are sadly mistaken when their loved one is sent to jail in handcuffs. People who call 911 during domestic violence situations, believing the deputy sheriff will come out and talk sense into the offending spouse are dead wrong, as the role of the sheriff is to arrest the offender and nothing less. Calling 911 to have the sheriff come to your house, during a domestic disturbance, should only be made when the caller expects to have the offending party arrested.

Domestic battery is simply defined as knowingly and intentionally touching another person against their will. With the person being touched against their will related to the accused in a familial relationship, dating relationship or through marriage. On the other hand, domestic assault does not require that the accused actually touched the victim against their will. But in fact, domestic assault only requires that the victim be placed in imminent fear of being touched by the accused in one of the previously stated relationships. So, after being arrested for domestic battery or domestic assault in Palm Beach County, FL what should one do and not do?

First, one should not reach out to the “victim” if there is a no contact order in place, as such contact will violate the accused pre-trial release. Second, one should get an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help them determine, if in fact a crime of domestic battery can be proven. Third, one should conference with their lawyer to determine if witnesses must be interviewed to determine if the witnesses may have relevant information regarding the “victim” or the events surrounding the incident. Fourth, the lawyer can reach out to the victim in his capacity as an investigator of the crime to get the victim’s side of the story, whether or not the victim wants to prosecute the case, whether or not the victim is willingly to sign a no prosecution form and whether or not the victim is in fact a victim at all. Lastly, it is suggested that the offender not attempt to contact the victim for legal issues, as that may also be a new law violation, specifically tampering with a witness, which in fact is a third degree felony.

What if children are present when the police or the sheriff arrive at the residence to investigate the domestic call? In those cases, DCF will be called out to investigate the family. In domestic disturbance situations, DCF is investigating two general principles: (i) were the children harmed and (ii) will the non-offending spouse or non-offending caregiver protect the children from the offending spouse or offending party?

The first question is not as cut and dry, as to whether or not the children suffered any harm during the domestic disturbance as most would like to think. Most people associate “harm to the children” with actual bruising or physical signs of abuse, which the children received during the domestic problem in the home. But according to DCF, the children also receive mental abuse when they witness or hear domestic abuse in their homes or between their parents or caregivers. DCF points to social studies, which were conducted by colleges, universities and physiologists that report to show a correlation between children who live in homes where domestic violence is present while they are growing up, and the conclusion that those children tend to be more violent and more likely to be domestic abusers themselves when they become adults. This is even true, according to DCF, if the child is only of infant age at the time of the domestic battery.

The next area of concern for DCF is whether or not the non-offending parent or caregiver will “protect the children” from physical abuse, by the accused. DCF believes that the violence in the home that allegedly was committed by the accused, as against the other parent, will eventually be directed to the children of the home. There does not have to be any history of physical violence towards the children or any signs of physical abuse of the children before DCF will file a petition against all the parties involved in a domestic disturbance. Again, DCF will rely on social studies as mentioned above in order for them to make a finding in these cases that the children should be removed from the violent home because the non-offending parent is not protecting the children. So many times DCF will require that the non-offending spouse or caregiver sign a “NO-Contact” order with the courts and thus by law, the accused is not allowed to re-enter the home. This action assures DCF in their eyes that the non-offending parent or caregiver is “protecting” the children from the accused. And there goes the family unit!

As this informational blog shows, calling 911 for a domestic battery, domestic violence or domestic assault case in Palm Beach County, FL can have lasting effects on the entire family that may last a lifetime. If you or loved one has been arrested or accused of any domestic battery, domestic violence or domestic assault in Palm Beach County, FL contact Palm Beach County criminal defense lawyer Andrew D. Stine for your free consultation. If you have been contacted by DCF for any matter including a domestic situation in the home, contact DCF defense attorney Andrew D. Stine. West Palm Beach criminal attorney Andrew D. Stine has been defending those accused of domestic battery for well over 13 years and assisting those with DCF problems for well over a decade. Hire Stine or Do the Time. Call 561-880-4300 now.

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