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In Florida, domestic violence is any violence against a family member, relative by marriage, a current or former cohabite, someone who lives with you or someone in a dating relationship or one that ended less than six months ago.
The violence may be in the form of a threat of violence, actual physical contact, kidnapping or stalking. In addition, the law also has options for victims of domestic violence to pursue a restraining order against someone that may have demonstrated domestic violence or the threat of violence against them. The restraining order is arranged through the family court, but a violation of a restraining order is a criminal offense.
Florida laws on domestic violence
All aggravated offenses, e.g. aggravated assault or aggravated battery, are treated more seriously than simple offenses. This is because they involve the threat of violence (i.e. assault) or actual physical contact (battery) with a deadly weapon. All aggravated offenses are categorized as one step higher than simple offenses. For example, domestic violence in the form of simple battery may be a first degree misdemeanor, but aggravated battery becomes a third degree felony with higher potential penalties.
Assault involves threats of violence, but no violent physical contact. This can be hard to nail down in a domestic violence situation, as often the alleged perpetrator may have regular physical contact anyway as a normal part of the ongoing or former relationship.
Domestic violence offenses are often difficult to prosecute because they may rely on the testament of the alleged victim only. Prosecutors may have to rely on witness statements, photos, and medical reports if the victim has suffered physical attacks.
If the person accused of domestic violence is convicted, the penalties imposed depend on the exact crime committed.
Second degree misdemeanors, like simple assault, may attract a jail sentence of up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500.
First degree misdemeanors like simple battery may attract a jail sentence of up to a year and a fine of up to $1,000.
Third degree felony charges, like aggravated assault or felony battery can lead to up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Second degree felony charges, like aggravated battery, could lead to prison time of up to 15 years and $5,000 in fines.
Kidnapping, as part of a domestic violence case, is even more serious and may lead to a non-bondable felony, and a conviction of a first degree felony carrying up to 30 years in prison and big fines.
All domestic violence cases may also lead to restraining orders being granted by a separate injunction pursued by the victim. A violation of a restraining order may lead to a separate charge and penalties if convicted.
You need an effective and determined defense if accused of domestic violence
Domestic violence is a controversial crime as it almost always involves heightened emotions and potential misrepresentation of the facts. Anyone arrested for domestic violence is entitled to be defended by an attorney. No-one in Florida is guilty of any offense unless prosecutors have evidence that a crime has been committed, and that the accused committed that crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Whatever the circumstances of an alleged crime, you have the right to be represented and defended in court by a resolute and experienced Miami criminal defense attorney. You can contact the law office of Albert Quirantes Esq. at 305-644-1800.