Charged With Domestic Violence? Here’s What to Expect

Domestic violence is a serious offense that can get you into a lot of trouble with the law. In fact, most domestic abuse cases that are reported usually end up with an arrest, even if the accuser decides to withdraw the allegations. In this article, we are going to look at what happens after you are charged with domestic violence and what to expect.

First Expectation: The Arrest

Once an officer is dispatched to your location, you’ll be escorted to the station and typically charged with domestic assault. You will then be held in jail as you wait for your date with the judge. Domestic violence can include:

  • Battery
  • Stalking
  • Sexual-related assault

Second Expectation: The First Appearance

Domestic violence cases in Florida are different from most other states in that you cannot bond out of jail immediately after your arrest. You must appear before a Judge for an Initial Appearance Hearing, which by law must take place within 24 hours of your arrest. At this hearing the Court will determine if you have already have a lawyer or qualify for the services of a public defender. The Court will also put a bond in place so that you can be released from custody. Oftentimes people are also released under the supervision of the Office of Pretrial Services without the need to post a monetary bond. Finally, a “stay away order” will be entered prohibiting you from contacting the alleged victim under any circumstances or through a third party. If you live with the alleged victim, you will be permitted to return to your residence accompanied by police officers to retrieve your personal belongings.

Third Expectation: The Pre-Trial Period

After you are released from jail, the case will be set for arraignment. This is the hearing where the Office of the State Attorney announces whether they will be filing formal criminal charges or not. It is very important that you do not wait until this court date to consult with defense counsel. The time period between arrest and arraignment is when your lawyer can advocate on your behalf and persuade the prosecution to drop or reduce the charges. Do not let this time period go by without getting proactive!

If criminal charges are filed, then the case will enter the discovery phase. The prosecution will provide a list of witnesses which includes the police officers and alleged victim, along with any other witnesses. They will also disclose any other evidence they have, including but not limited to photographs, 911 calls, written statements of witnesses, police reports and hospital records. Your attorney is obligated to also produce whatever evidence they have which they intend to use at trial.

Additionally, the alleged victim may also go to the civil courthouse and swear out a Petition for Protection from Repeat Violence against you, commonly known as a restraining order. This is a separate proceeding, which is not criminal, but can have far reaching consequences. If you are served with such a Petition you will have another court date within two weeks and if you own or possess any firearms you will have to surrender them to the police department immediately. If you fail to abide by the terms of the restraining order you can be re-arrested and held in jail with no bond.

Fourth Expectation: The Trial

The vast majority of domestic violence cases are resolved without a trial. Many are dismissed because the alleged victim has decided not to prosecute. If the person charged is a first offender, and there are no injuries to the victim, the defendant is often allowed to enter a pretrial diversion program which includes anger management classes and counseling. Once the program is successfully completed, the charges are dismissed.

However, in those rare cases where there is no resolution, the case then proceeds to trial. You can expect to wait anywhere from a 30 days after arraignment to several months before the trial begins, depending on how the court’s overall caseload. Bear in mind that the decision to proceed to trial is not one to be taken lightly. If a jury finds you not guilty, then the case is over and you are free to go with no further consequences. If however you are found guilty then the Court will sentence you. The maximum sentence in Florida for a misdemeanor domestic violence battery charge is 1 year in jail, plus a criminal conviction and fine. If the charges are felonies the sentence can drastically increase depending upon the severity of the charges.

Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side is essential in these cases. Do not underestimate the severity of a domestic violence allegation. If you have been charged with domestic violence contact The Law Offices of Barry M. Wax today for a consultation. Call now at (305) 373-4400.

Written by Law Offices of Barry M. Wax

Law Offices of Barry M. Wax

For 34 years, I have provided both State- and Federal-Level representation for those facing charges ranging from wire fraud, mortgage fraud, and healthcare fraud to identity theft, drug trafficking, money laundering, murder, DUI, domestic violence and numerous other criminal charges. In every case, it is my commitment to one-on-one service and support that has separated the Law Offices of Barry M. Wax from other criminal defense firms. When it comes to your future, you need a strong defense and the ability to make the right choices and regain control of your life.