Domestic Violence Battery Allegations: What You Need to Know
As a former prosecutor, one of the most devastating charges I have seen levied on individuals is Domestic Violence Battery. This charge is harshly prosecuted throughout the State of Florida.
Domestic Violence Battery is any unlawful touching of a person classified by statute as a family or household member. The offense is harshly prosecuted throughout the State of Florida, with penalties and long-term consequences for conviction that far exceed that of conventional battery.
Definition of Domestic Violence Battery
Under Florida law, Domestic Violence Battery is defined as “any actual and intentional touching or striking of another person without their consent” or the “intentional causing of bodily harm to another person when the person struck is a ‘family or household member.'”
Under section 741.28, Florida Statutes “family or household member” can include the following:
– wives and husbands
– ex-wives and ex-husbands
– individuals related by blood or marriage
– individuals living together as a family
– individuals who have resided together as if a family in the past
– persons who have a child in common (regardless of prior marriage)
The statute specifically requires that the family or household members must be currently residing together or have in the past resided together in the same dwelling. There exists only one exception to this when the issue involves persons who have a child in common.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Battery
Domestic Violence Battery is classified as a first degree misdemeanor, and includes penalties of up to one year in jail, twelve months probation, and/or a $1000 fine.
Due to the “domestic” nature of this crime, the accused will face additional mandatory penalties under Chapter 741, Florida Statutes, that otherwise would not be included for general battery.
– completion of a 26 week Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP)
– 12 months probation
– 5 days required jail (if the defendant is adjudicated guilty and
there is bodily injury- Section 741.283, Florida Statutes)
– additional community service hours
– loss of civil liberties
– the imposition of an injunction or “no contact” order
Sealing or Expunging Domestic Charges
Under Florida State law, a person who commits an act of domestic violence battery or any other domestic-related crime of violence, as noted in section 741.28, Florida Statutes, is ineligible to have his or her record sealed or expunged, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld. Simply put, if you plead to any domestic violence battery charge, you will have a lifetime criminal record for that offense. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Defenses to Domestic Violence Battery
In Florida, domestic violence battery is one of the most prolific charges faced and most sought after to defend. A decision to plead should not be made without an attorney thoroughly reviewing your case and considering all of your legal options. Some of the most common
defenses to this charge include:
– factual disputes about the incident
– absence of injuries
– battery allegations not corroborated by other evidence
– vindictive victim
– defense of others
– defense of property
– “Stand your Ground”
– consensual confrontation or mutual combat
Criminal Defense Strategies
There are wide variety of strategies that I can utilize in order to address a domestic battery charge, many of which can aid in having a case dropped or reduced prior to trial. Some of the more common defense strategies include the following:
Hiring an attorney is of paramount importance in a Domestic Violence Battery case.The possibility that a charge will be dropped, amended, or diverted increases substantially with an attorney reviewing your case and representing you. The hiring of private counsel signals to the prosecutor that the defendant has the intent and utmost resolve to fight the case.
Moreover, by hiring an attorney, the defendant has at their disposal the knowledge and experience needed to successfully defend themselves against this charge.This greatly improves outcomes and can weaken the resolve of the prosecution to pursue the matter.
One of the key advantages of hiring an attorney is the ability to make early contact with the prosecution. The early presentation of factual defenses, legal issues, and mitigating circumstances can have a dramatic impact on the prosecutor’s decision of whether to move forward with a domestic battery charge. It communicates competence and resolve, and establishes a rapport that may be needed in any future negotiations and be beneficial to your case. My experience as a prosecutor has served me invaluably in this regard, because I am able to bring my experience on their side to yours.
Contacting the Alleged Victim
Domestic Battery charges are most effectively addressed at the earliest stages of the case, before even formal charges have been filed. Even when a “no contact” order has been imposed between individuals, an attorney can contact the alleged victim to see if they wish to pursue the charge further. An attorney can further present information to see if the charges can be dropped.
The State Attorney’s Office will, generally, require that the victim complete a drop-charge affidavit, complete a course, or meet with a Domestic Violence advocate in order to decline prosecution. The victim may also attempt direct contact with the prosecutor. In all cases, however, the decision to prosecute rests solely with the Office of the State Attorney. A victim’s input is often persuasive, but it is no way the sole determinant for the decision.
More Information on the “No Contact” Order
In Domestic Violence Battery cases where the alleged victim does no wish to pursue charges, the parties should seek to immediately modify any preexisting “No Contact Orders” that have been imposed by the court. This is accomplished through the filing of a Motion to Modify Conditions of Release.
The modifying or lifting of a “no contact order” not only enables the parties to resume contact and further coordinate their efforts to have the charges dropped, it sends an additional signal that the alleged victim is not cooperative and is against any further prosecution.
Seeking Help Voluntarily
In many cases it is appropriate for a defendant and/or victim to be proactive in their addressing of this issue and voluntarily enroll in counseling or other psychological or substance abuse services. Voluntary participation in such programs can show a level of responsibility by the parties and, perhaps, change prosecutor perceptions of a case and of the defendant. This can also increase the chance of a pretrial intervention.
When a Domestic Violence Battery charge cannot be disposed of in the early stages of the case, pretrial motions can provide additional impetus for a drop or reduction in charges. Some common examples of this include “Stand your Ground” motions, motions in Limine, and
motions for court ruling.
“Stand your Ground” offers the accuse the potential for prosecutorial immunity while a motion in Limine and motion for court ruling can demonstrate to the prosecutor the factual and evidence vulnerabilities in their case This may further assist negotiations and deter continued litigation.
Domestic Violence Battery prosecutions will often result in trial. For this reason, both the defendant and the attorney must show resolve and trial-readiness for the duration of the case. In some cases, being ready, willing, and able to proceed to trial can itself lay a major role in having a charge dropped, reduced, or diverted. It is of vital importance to remain well-informed of your options and strategy, all of which an attorney can provide to you.
Domestic Violence Battery is a serious charge with potentially devastating consequences for those accused of it. It is necessary, given the numerous strategies, approaches, and pretrial options available to combat these charges, to contact an attorney and solicit their services for this issue. My years of experience, both on the prosecutorial side and defense side, have given me a comprehensive understanding of this charge. It is this experience that is the difference maker when it comes to defending you against Domestic Violence Battery charges.
If you have question about your domestic violence case please call my office at 407-415-9626 or email me at Jeremiah@JeremiahDAllen.com
Key Words: “Domestic Violence,” “Domestic Violence Battery,” and “Battery”