Domestic violence charges and domestic abuse cases are growing in numbers and are widespread as this pandemic wears on.
When families spend more time together, like Thanksgiving, Christmas and summer breaks domestic violence cases increase. As millions of households are in lockdown, violence, and abuse hotlines are busier than ever. Even the U. N. weighed in on the subject with this quote from Secretary-General António Guterres, “I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic.” Of course, domestic violence and domestic abuse aren’t exclusive to women as victims, but it is more common. It’s not just in the US, either. This is a pattern playing out around the world.
If you have been arrested because of domestic violence, it can be overwhelming to try to figure out what to do to get your life back on track. That's why you need a skilled, experienced defense attorney to fight your domestic violence charges.
I know Florida state laws, and I will do everything possible to help you win your case. I have a 10.0 Superb Avvo Rating, over 30 years of experience, and extensive accomplishments in criminal defense practice.
If you have been accused of a domestic violence crime, you may suffer serious consequences -- even if the accusation is not true. Some of the crimes associated with domestic violence are:
As DV cases rise, the courts have set up more streamlined procedures to adjust to conditions. Anyone arrested for a Domestic Violence charge in Florida must appear before a judge within 24 hours, where release conditions will be set. Those normally include no-contact orders and a preliminary injunction against future domestic violence and may also include a bond or release to a pre-trial monitoring program. How people with a no-contact order can shelter in place together is a problem the courts must address.
During this recent pandemic, first appearance hearings are taking place via video link to the jail, with attorneys appearing by telephone or video conferencing. Once released from custody, it’s important to review the case facts to see what defenses are available.
Domestic violence in Florida is defined as assault, battery, aggravated assault or battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death, committed by a family or household member against another family or household member.
“Family or household member” refers to any of the following persons:
With the exception of parents who have a child in common, the persons must currently or previously have resided together in the same single dwelling unit in order to be considered a family or household member under Florida law. (Fla. Stat. § 741.28).
Due to the ‘domestic’ nature of the crime, the accused will face additional mandatory penalties under Chapter 741, Florida Statutes, including:
Additionally, a person who is found guilty of domestic violence battery or any other domestic-related crime of violence in Florida, as defined in Section 741.28, Florida Statutes, is ineligible to have his or her record sealed or expunged regardless of whether adjudication is withheld.
It’s clear that you need to hire an attorney to represent you in a domestic violence case. The State Attorney’s Office has a platoon of special prosecutors assigned to these cases and they’re trying to obtain a conviction. A conviction exposes you to a possible jail sentence, fines, probation, programs, and a future with a criminal record, since a Florida domestic violence conviction, or withhold of adjudication, can never be sealed or expunged. Have an experienced attorney on your side who will fight to have the charges dismissed or reduced, the penalties minimized and be prepared for trial, if necessary.
A big advantage of hiring a private attorney is early contact with the prosecutors. Talking to the State about defenses, legal evidentiary issues, and mitigation may often lead to the State abandoning a domestic battery charge.
Domestic Battery charges should be attacked even before the State files the charge. Even though a ‘no contact’ order will normally be imposed, an attorney can properly contact the alleged victim to see if he or she still wants to move ahead with the charges. If that’s the case, an attorney can guide the person to the proper way to get the charges dropped.
The State Attorney’s Office will require that the victim complete a non-prosecution affidavit and often meet with a Domestic Violence advocate. However, the decision to prosecute rests exclusively with the State Attorney’s Office, though an alleged victim’s input is significantly weighted.
Where the alleged victim does not wish to pursue charges, the Defendant and alleged victim should modify the No Contact Orders imposed by the court. This is normally done by filing a Motion to Modify Conditions of Release.
If granted, a modification often allows the parties to resume contact and combine their desire to have the charges dropped. It also may indicate that the alleged victim is not going to be cooperative and is against pursuing prosecution.
It may be appropriate for a defendant and/or victim to be proactive and voluntarily enroll in counseling or other psychological or substance abuse services. Participation in mental and behavioral health programs shows some responsibility by the parties, and influence a prosecutor’s view of a case and of the defendant. It can also increase the possibility of a non-criminal resolution, such as Pre-Trial Diversion.
Domestic Violence charges are very serious with potentially devastating consequences for the accused. No one should try to resolve their case on their own without first consulting with an attorney.
If you have been accused of Domestic Battery, contact Miami domestic violence lawyer, Jonathan Blecher, to discuss your legal options.