What to Do if You’ve Been Accused of Domestic Violence in Florida

Domestic violence is a very serious problem. It knows no class, it doesn’t differentiate between gender and age—and it’s becoming more and more prevalent. Sadly, there are still those who make false accusations or claims after a heated exchange, and what do you do then? Or maybe you entered a very grey area during an emotionally charged situation.

Florida takes domestic violence charges seriously. If a claim has been made, someone is going to be arrested, and charged.

The first rule of thumb if you are arrested on a domestic violence charge is to stay silent and get an attorney as soon as possible. If you are wondering whether you’ve wandered into that grey area, this is what Florida considers to be domestic violence under Sections 741.28 – 741.31:

“‘Domestic violence’ means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.

‘Family or household member’ means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing, or have in the past resided, together in the same single dwelling unit.”

If any signs of the abovementioned can be found, you can be accused of domestic violence and find yourself navigating the legal process of such a claim. What makes cases such as these even trickier is the fact that a domestic violence charge carries several additional consequences along with their own minimum penalties, such as:

  1. If it can be proven that the domestic violence offense involved any intentional infliction of bodily harm, you will have to spend a minimum of five days in county jail unless your sentence includes a non-suspended period of incarceration in a state correctional facility.
  2. If you are found guilty of the domestic violence charge, you will have to serve a minimum of one year probation and you will be forced to attend a 26 – 29 week batterer’s intervention program.
  3. From the moment that you are arrested and charged, you will not be allowed to possess a firearm. If you are convicted of felony domestic violence, your Second Amendment rights will be revoked. If you are ever found in the possession of a firearm, it may be dealt with as a federal felony offense.
  4. If you are found guilty of a domestic violence offense, Florida law prohibits it being sealed or expunged. But there are certain legal criteria that could make you the exception to the rule. These criteria are complex and emphasize the importance of having a decent lawyer.

These are but a few of the serious consequences which result from an act of domestic violence, regardless of whether it is a misdemeanor or felony.

So, once you’ve managed to keep your lips sealed and acquired the services of a good lawyer – what next?

  • Be polite. Being defensive or argumentative with the police will only strengthen the person’s case against you.
  • Do not give or sign any written statements.
  • Don’t “cut a deal” with the police. This happens in movies and tv, but in reality they have absolutely no authority to do so.
  • Do not say anything to anyone over the jail phone that might be used against you; phone calls from every jail in the country are recorded, and can be introduced into evidence against you.
  • Don’t call the accuser from jail. This is an invitation to disaster. Whatever you say will almost certainly be repeated by them to a prosecutor. If it is threatening, your ability to get out of jail – and stay out of jail – may be compromised.
  • Do not violate the conditions of your release. You will only be released once you have seen a judge. The judge will set bond along with certain conditions of release. These conditions are usually to not contact the accuser, not return home, and not possess any weapons. Once you have been released, your attorney may be able to negotiate and modify the terms of your release.
  • Ensure that you have an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney. Not only will they be able to successfully negotiate and modify the terms of your release, but they will also speak for you when it comes to the prosecutor deciding to file charges or not.

If you have been accused of domestic violence in Florida, you will be facing a pretty tough legal battle. Ensure that you are fighting it with an experienced criminal law attorney. Contact Barry Wax at (305) 373-4400 to help you navigate this tricky legal maze.

Law Offices of Barry M. Wax