When a family dispute turns into a domestic violence charge, the results can be devastating. Tempers flare, the police are called, and all of a sudden you could be facing a sentence that ranges from a restraining order to years in prison.
Florida domestic violence charges are unique in that anytime the police are called, someone is going to jail. In fact, Florida law specifically requires that domestic violence disputes be treated as a criminal act rather than a private matter, and that any allegations of violence between household members be charged as domestic violence. This creates a systemic bias towards prosecution that starts at your first encounter with law enforcement, even if the victim does not want to press charges.
In Florida, the Victim Cannot Choose Not to Press Charges for Domestic Violence
As a central-Florida criminal defense lawyer who represents people charged with domestic violence, I often get two kinds of calls: the first is from people who have been charged with domestic violence and need an experienced criminal defense lawyer; the second, however, is from the victim who calls me on behalf of the arrested person to explain that they did not want the police to make an arrest and that they do not want to press charges.
In most criminal cases, the victim decides whether or not to press charges. This is not so for cases of domestic violence in Florida. Unlike other crimes, it is the State Attorney’s Office, not the victim, who decides whether or not to move forward with the case. The prosecutor will evaluate whether there is enough evidence to secure a conviction and, if so, will decide to proceed with the case.
“Domestic Violence” Triggers Additional Statutory Requirements
In Florida, a person is not actually charged with “domestic violence.” Instead, “domestic violence” is used to enhance charges for other criminal acts like stalking, assault, or battery, and triggers additional statutory requirements.
After your arrest on a domestic violence charge, your case will be set at “no bond” until you appear before a judge, which could take up to 48 hours after your arrest.
Once you are released on bond, the judge will typically require that you not have contact with the victim or their place of residence, even if you are the owner of the victim’s residence.
Consequences of Florida Domestic Violence Charges Are Far-Reaching
Unlike other crimes, merely being charged with domestic violence can have far-reaching and damaging consequences.
A charge of domestic violence cannot be expunged from your record. Even if you were not convicted or the case was dropped, the charge will remain on your criminal record forever.
If you are charged with domestic violence during a divorce proceeding, or if you were charged with domestic violence and later decide to seek a divorce, your domestic violence charge will most likely be used against you, even if you were never convicted. This is especially true if there are children involved.
A charge of domestic violence can be used against you in future domestic violence cases, even if the original domestic violence case was dropped or if you were found not guilty. If you were ever charged with domestic violence and are charged again, the first charge, even if it did not result in a conviction, can be used to prosecute you as a felon and the State can seek to incarcerate you for up to five years.
Penalties for a Domestic Violence Conviction
If you are convicted of domestic violence, penalties are severe and include a mandatory minimum of one-year probation.
You will be required to complete a Batterers Intervention Program that lasts between 26 and 29 weeks. The program was originally developed for habitual batterers, but is now required for people convicted of domestic violence, even if you are not a habitual offender.
If you have a Concealed Carry Permit it will be suspended and the court will order you not to carry a firearm for the duration of the time that the court has jurisdiction over your case, including any time you spend on probation.
Facing Domestic Violence Charges in Florida? Contact The Law Office of Jody Fisher Today
If you have been charged with domestic violence in Florida, it is important that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights. By getting an experienced Florida domestic violence defense attorney involved as early as possible, you increase the chances of having the prosecutor drop the charges against you.
If you are facing central-Florida domestic violence charges, contact criminal defense attorney Jody L. Fisher today for an initial consultation Call (352) 503-4111, email, or complete our online information form.