While you may have a basic understanding of what constitutes domestic violence, you may not know how Florida law specifically defines it. There have been changes to the law as recently as 2017. Florida law defines domestic violence battery as the actual and intentional touching or striking of a family or household member without their consent. It also includes the intentional causing of bodily harm to a family or household member. This aspect is important because “causing” includes situations in which the defendant has not literally laid a hand on another person. At Ellis and Bryant, our Jacksonville domestic violence lawyers understand that these cases are often more complex than they first appear. We are ready to discuss the details of your situation with you and help you protect your rights.Who Counts as a Family or Household Member?
In order to count as domestic violence, the alleged victim needs to have a particular relationship to the defendant. Household members include both spouses and ex-spouses. Individuals who are related to the defendant – whether through blood or through marriage – also qualify. Even people who have a child in common are considered “family or household members,” whether or not they have ever lived together. Finally, family or household members also include people who live together as a family or people who have lived together as a family in the past. As you can see, this is a broad definition and can encompass all sorts of relationships between the defendant and the alleged victim.Penalties and Consequences
If you are convicted of domestic battery in Florida, you could face penalties that include up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. As of October 2017, defendants convicted of a first domestic battery offense must serve 10 days of mandatory jail time. Second offenses require 15 days, and third offenses require 20 days. If there are children who witnessed the violence, defendants must serve even more mandatory time. Individuals convicted of domestic battery can also face up to a year of probation. These penalties may seem intimidating, but a domestic violence attorney can help Jacksonville residents fight to avoid or reduce the consequences.
One of the distinctive things about domestic violence convictions is that the penalties are not limited to fines and jail time, as with many crimes. Individuals convicted of domestic battery may also be required to attend a 26-week batterers intervention program. The judge may also order the defendant to perform community service hours. The judge can also suspend or revoke a defendant’s concealed carry permit.
When the police are called due to a domestic violence accusation, Florida law prefers that the police arrest the primary aggressor. If they decide not to arrest anyone or to arrest two or more people, they are required to explain their decision.Defenses
A knowledgeable Jacksonville domestic violence attorney can use one (or more) of several strategies to defend you against the charges. While it is not up to the victim to decide whether or not charges are pressed, it can help you if the victim recants their accusation or decides to stop cooperating with the police.
One common defense is self-defense or defense of others. In other words, this means that the “victim” was actually the aggressor, either against the defendant or against another person, and the defendant was just reacting to the provocation. Another defense is that there is a lack of evidence that the battery occurred in the first place. The defendant can also attack the facts alleged by the prosecutor. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you determine which strategies apply in your situation.Contact an Experienced Domestic Violence Lawyer in Jacksonville Today
If you are charged with a domestic violence crime, you should contact a Jacksonville attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Ellis and Bryant, P.A., take a proactive approach to each case and may start working even before the charges are filed if there is an opportunity to do so. We represent people in Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Orange Park, Middleburg, and elsewhere in Duval and Clay Counties. Call us 24/7 at (904) 551-4120, or use the contact form on this website to schedule your free initial consultation. We also represent people who are facing charges of drug crimes, gun crimes, and other offenses.