| Read Time: 5 minutes | Criminal Defense

A Legal Guide for Florida Spring Breakers: Know Before You Go

CC image by Ekaterina Vladinakova at Flickr If you’re heading to Florida for spring break in 2019, the sunshine and warm water may not be all that you encounter. In fact, spring breakers are notorious for getting into legal trouble – typically for things like underage drinking. Before you go, here are a few laws and safety tips that you should review to reduce the risk of an accident and keep you out of legal trouble– Staying Safe – Avoiding the Four Ds As a mnemonic device to help you remember safety and the law when you’re on spring break, consider the four Ds that you should always avoid: Drunk driving Drugged driving Distracted driving Drowsy driving All four of the above are, first and foremost, extremely unsafe. When you drive drunk, drugged, drowsy, or distracted, you significantly increase your risk of causing a motor vehicle accident. You may also have legal consequences if you are apprehended for drunk or drugged driving, and even texting while driving is against the law in the Sunshine State. Alcohol For those who are traveling for spring break, alcohol typically presents the biggest temptation, and of the biggest health, safety, and legal risks, too. While our law firm does not condone underage drinking, we do want to remind you that if you do drink–whether of the legal drinking age or not–to never get behind the wheel after you’ve consumed an alcoholic beverage. CC image by Image Catalog at Flickr In addition to staying clear of drunk driving, remember that it is also illegal to have an open container of alcohol within the car, as found in Florida Statutes Section 316.1936. Remind your passengers that if they want to drink, they can’t do it while your vehicle is in operation. Find a Designated Driver Avoiding the four Ds means finding a designated driver if people in your group have been drinking or using drugs. You should also find another driver if those in your group are overly-fatigued; studies show that fatigued driving has the potential to be just as dangerous as drunk driving. When you’re assigning a designated driver in your group, do so smartly. Characteristics of a designated driver that are important include that the driver has/is: A valid driver’s license and auto insurance; Responsible; and Able to resist the temptation not to drink, even when hanging out with friends. It’s always a good idea to select a designated driver before you hit the bars or are exposed to alcohol. If there is no one in your group who makes for a safe designated driver, take a cab, use a rideshare, or find another way home. Know Your Limits If you will be drinking on this spring break, make sure you do so safely – which means more than just avoiding the driver’s seat. It’s also important that you set and know your limits – how much can you personally consume safely? Don’t drink more than you can handle, and try to stick to the general rule of no more than one drink per hour, coupled with a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages. (Note that depending on who you are, the one-drink-per-hour rule may be very inaccurate.) When drinking, be sure to always pair your alcohol consumption with plenty of food and water, too. It’s also important that you familiarize yourself with the symptoms of alcohol poisoning, and keep an eye out for anyone in your group who may be suffering from alcohol poisoning. The American Addictions Centers lists a few of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning as vomiting, hypothermia, seizure, loss of bowel or bladder control, irregular pulse, and blue-tinged skin. If you suspect that anyone is suffering from alcohol poisoning, you should seek emergency medical care/dial 911 immediately. Alcohol Ban on Beaches The car is not the only place that you can’t have an open container of alcohol in Florida; alcohol is also prohibited on many of the beaches, too. Refer to the Orlando Weekly for a list of beaches in Florida where you can legally drink alcohol, and note that Panama City Beach has banned alcohol on the beach as an “emergency measure” for this year’s spring break. Other Important Laws It’s also important that, in addition to alcohol-specific laws, you also review the rules regarding using a fake ID and public intoxication. As an added safety tip, we also recommend getting vaccinated before coming to Florida, which may offer protection from bacteria and viruses that are often rampant in large gatherings, like those that are found during spring break. Be Smart About Sexual Assault, Rape, and Other Violent Crimes CC image by freestocks.org at Flickr Spring break is no longer just an opportunity for young people to celebrate a reprieve from the grind of university life and get in a little sunshine; it is also a time where many people, spring breakers and otherwise, commit serious crimes, including rape, sexual assault, theft, and assault. During spring break, adhere to the following safety tips: Don’t leave a drink unattended – date rape drugs, including GHB and Rohypnol, could be placed in your drink while you’re distracted; Travel with a buddy – don’t go to unfamiliar places alone, especially in areas where drugs and alcohol are present; Have a plan, including knowing where you’re going and when, and how to get there; Don’t give out your information, including where you’re staying while on spring break, to strangers; Tell someone where you’re going before you leave and when you plan to be back; Keep your belongings close to avoid pickpocketing and theft; and If things get heated between you and another spring breaker, walk away – an assault can be dangerous, and could result in criminal charges if you’re involved. Dos and Don’ts of Interacting with the Police CC image by Alex Smith at Flickr If you are pulled over or otherwise stopped by police while on spring break this year, it’s important that you know how to respond to protect...

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

If an Alleged Victim of Domestic Violence Doesn’t Testify in Court, What Happens to My Case?

Domestic violence cases often hinge on the alleged victim testifying. If he or she doesn’t, then the state usually has no case to bring against you. No matter what the state says, it really can’t compel someone to testify. Many alleged victims go missing as the court date approaches, which leaves the prosecutor with very little evidence to present to a jury. If this is your situation, you should carefully analyze how the prosecutor might respond. If There is Other Evidence of Battery, a Prosecutor Might Go Ahead In some cases, there might be witnesses to the abuse. No law states that a victim has to testify to a crime. (If this were the law, no one could be convicted of murder). Instead, the state can use other evidence, such as eyewitness testimony or video evidence. In these cases, the evidence might be unambiguous that you committed the offense. Questions often arise when a prosecutor has a 911 tape with the victim talking about alleged abuse. For example, your wife might call 911 and tell the dispatcher that you punched her. But what happens if your wife doesn’t show up to court to testify? In that situation, you might be able to get the audio tape excluded from evidence. Before you can gauge what the prosecutor will do, you need to know what other evidence the state has. This is a good reason to hire an Orlando criminal defense attorney, who can discover everything the state intends to introduce at trial. If There is No Other Evidence, a Prosecutor Might Drop the Charges The state has the burden of proving every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard. In Florida, to convict you of battery, the state must prove either: You actually and intentionally struck or made contact with another person against their will, or You intentionally caused bodily harm to another person The element of intent is important. You might have accidentally touched someone, but that is not enough. For this reason, introducing pictures of someone’s injuries probably is insufficient to sustain a battery conviction. After all, the pictures show someone was harmed; they do not show whether the harm was intentional. This issue was central to a 2007 case, Baker v. State. There, the state submitted pictures of bite marks and a 911 tape in which the alleged victim told the dispatcher her husband bit her. However, as the appellate court noted, the state failed to prove that the contact was intentional and that the victim did not consent to it. For this reason, they entered a judgment of acquittal for the defendant. Your prosecutor will face a similar quandary if the victim does not show up to testify against you. If the state lacks sufficient evidence, you can’t be convicted. Aggressive Criminal Defense in Orlando Domestic violence charges are serious and warrant a serious response, even if you are confident the alleged victim will not show up to court. At Moses & Rooth, we have years of experience practicing criminal defense, and we will do everything possible to help you reach a favorable resolution. For more information, please contact us today.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Domestic Violence

Resources for Domestic Violence Victims

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), domestic violence affects about 1 in 3 women. The numbers were almost as high for men—1 in 4. Put differently, 24 people suffer physical violence from an intimate partner every minute. Unfortunately, it is not always easy for a victim to leave. In fact, 75% of the women who are killed each year by an abusive partner are killed after they have left the relationship. Instead, domestic violence victims need significant help. Read on for more information about the resources available to domestic violence victims. Create a Safety Plan Victims of domestic violence often experience a sense of powerlessness as well as panic during a violent explosion. It is very easy to forget what simple steps you can take to keep yourself safe. This is where a safety plan comes it. It should include the following information: An exit plan for leaving the home during a violent episode (identify the door or window you can use to exit). The place where you will keep your purse and keys in the event you need to leave quickly. Who you can tell about the violence and who you can ask to call the police if they suspect something has happened to you. Where you can go if you need to leave the home suddenly. Where you will stash extra money as well as important documents, such as birth certificates or Social Security Numbers. How you will secure safety in your new residence if you leave. If you need help creating a safety plan, you can contact Harbor House of Central Florida. Their 24-hour confidential hotline number is 407-886-2856. If you are outside central Florida, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Someone is available to take your call 24 hours a day. Seek a Restraining Order A restraining order (called a “protective order” in Florida) is an order from a judge that prohibits an abuser from contacting you or coming near you. A protective order can also include other conditions, such as: Forcing the abuser to move out of the home Prohibiting the abuser from having a firearm Allowing you to use the family car Requiring that an abuser attend an alcohol or drug treatment program Granting you temporary custody of the children If your abuser violates the conditions of the order, then the police can pick him up and take him to jail. A judge can also keep the abuser in jail or order additional conditions to compel compliance with the protective order. In Florida, you can get an emergency protective order by filing an application in court. The judge will then hold a hearing, which your abuser can attend, to decide whether to grant a permanent protective order. Need Help? Contact Moses & Rooth At Moses & Rooth, we have significant experience assisting those involved in domestic violence cases in Orlando. Please contact us today to learn more about the services that we offer or give us a call at (407) 377-0150.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Domestic Violence

How Domestic Violence Can Creep into Your Relationship

No one enters a relationship expecting it to be violent. Nevertheless, experts caution that about 25% of women and 14% of men will experience at least one occurrence of domestic violence. To protect yourself, you should better understand why abuse happens. It’s All About Control When couples feel comfortable and on equal footing, a relationship can be harmonious. However, one partner sometimes wants to control or dominate the other, often because of insecurity and fear. When abusers see domestic violence as a child, it operates as a powerful lesson that violence is an effective means of obtaining control. Abusers often feel that they are about to lose control, with the following as common triggers: A major life change, such as a pregnancy or death in the family. An abuser can feel neglected and use violence to once again become the focal point of the relationship. Job loss or sudden debt. Financial stress often serves as a trigger to violence. An attempt by the victim to leave. To regain control of the situation, the abuser uses violence. The Cycle of Violence Relationships expert describe domestic violence as a cycle. The cycle begins with rising tension. During this time, the abuser might make threats or insults or commit small acts of violence.  The abuser also tries to control the victim, such as not allowing her to leave or checking her phone to see what messages she has received. Victims often do not take this controlling behavior, and tension builds. When tension reaches a tipping point, a violent explosion takes place. An abuser might use physical, emotional, sexual, or verbal abuse during this phase. The violent phase ends with the abuser apologizing—though still blaming the victim. The honeymoon phase follows, with the abuser becoming apologetic and sometimes romantic. He also will make promises to change. If the victim stays, then even small acts of domestic violence set the stage for more intense violence later on. Why We Don’t Break the Cycle If society did not reward or condone domestic violence, many victims would probably leave after the first violent incident and many abusers would change their behavior. However, domestic violence is normalized in our society: Popular culture glorifies male violence, which is often portrayed heroically. Mass media reinforces that it is normal for men to control women and make all key decisions in a relationship. Mass media also minimizes that women can use violence and makes men afraid of being open about the abuse they suffer. People accept the excuses abusers offer, such as alcohol caused their aggression. Friends and family minimize the violence and look for reasons to blame the victim. If you know someone is being abused, remind them that they are not to blame. Also seek out resources to share that might allow the victim to leave the situation. And if you are the abuser, seek help. It is up to abusers to also break the cycle of violence, not victims. At Moses & Rooth, we practice in the fields of criminal law and domestic violence. If you have a legal issue, we can help. Call 407-377-0150 today or contact us online.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Domestic Violence

Deadly Orlando Standoff Ends with 4 Children Killed, Officer in Critical Condition

It is well known that domestic violence is a serious problem in central Florida. Area police frequently cite domestic violence calls as among the most dangerous situations they must respond to. Sadly, recent events have only brought this danger to home for residents of Orlando. On the evening of June 10, police officers responded to a domestic violence call in southwest Orlando. Specifically, a woman reported she was being battered and fled her apartment to a nearby restaurant. Orlando Police Department officers then went to the woman’s apartment to confront the suspected abuser, 35-year-old Gary Wayne Lindsey, Jr. But when police arrived, a shootout ensued, seriously wounding OPD Officer Kevin Valencia. The officer subsequently required emergency surgery at Orlando Regional Medical Center, followed by extensive treatment at a spinal cord and brain-injury rehabilitation facility in Atlanta. As of a June 28 report, Officer Valencia was “responsive” but “remains in a coma.” Unfortunately, Officer Valencia’s injuries were not the most serious. After a 24-hour standoff, an OPD SWAT team entered the apartment, where they found the suspect, Lindsey, and four children dead. According to OPD Chief John Mina, Lindsey shot and killed the children–who ranged in age from 1 to 11– before turning his gun on himself. Two of the children were reportedly Lindsey’s, while the other two belonged to the woman who made the initial domestic violence report. Suspect Owned Multiple Firearms Despite Felony Conviction, Probation Requirements In the aftermath of this incident, news reports focused on Lindsey’s prior criminal record. The Orlando Sentinel reported that at the time of his death, Lindsey was serving a 35-year probation term arising from a 2010 arson arrest. More precisely, the Sentinel said Lindsey “was accused of trying to burn down a house in Orange City during a domestic argument.” During the course of his probation, Lindsey was “reported for four violations,” including a 2012 domestic violence arrest–involving the same accuser as the June 10 report–where the charges “were later dropped.” And following a May 4, 2018, arrest for grand theft, a judge “reluctantly agreed to release Lindsey back to supervision after his sister agreed to pay $1,000 in restitution on his behalf.” Although the terms of Lindsey’s probation prevented him from owning firearms, he had two rifles, two shotguns, and a handgun in his possession, according to Chief Mina, who said the weapons were gifts from Lindsey’s father. Defending Yourself Against Domestic Violence Charges It is important to note that cases like this are an outlier. Most domestic violence cases in Florida do not end in deadly shootings. More commonly, domestic violence charges are the result of verbal fights or minor altercations where nobody is seriously injured. Nevertheless, you should take any domestic violence accusation seriously. An experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney can assist you in preparing a defense to any domestic violence charge. Contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 531-8694, to schedule a consultation with a member of our team today.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Domestic Violence

Why Domestic Violence First Responders and Florida Gun Laws Clash

For Orlando-area police officers, domestic violence calls are among the most dangerous situations they face. What starts out as a verbal argument between two people quickly escalates into threats of physical violence. And when one of the parties has a gun, these threats may turn into deadly action–exposing not only the other person but any law enforcement first responders who arrive at the scene. Post-Stoneman Douglas Laws Will Likely Affect Domestic Violence Cases Domestic violence is usually not a one-time occurrence. Police often find themselves responding to multiple calls from the same household over a period of weeks or months. This can significantly elevate the risk to law enforcement, as they know they are responding to a decaying domestic situation with a growing potential for violence. For police, the key to ensuring a safe resolution is restricting the availability of firearms to the people inside the house–especially if one of the occupants has a documented history of domestic violence. Historically, this was easier said than done, as the victim had to first obtain an order of protection against domestic violence. Such orders typically require the subject to surrender any firearms he or she owns to the police. But in the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas High School mass murder on February 14, the Florida legislature passed new legislation designed to further restrict access to firearms by individuals who are judged to be a risk to the public. Under the new law, signed by Gov. Rick Scott on March 9, a law enforcement officer may directly petition a Florida circuit court judge for a “risk protection order” against any individual who “poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or herself or others by having a firearm or any ammunition in his or her custody or control.” Once the officer files the petition, the court must hold a hearing within 14 days. In the interim, the judge can issue a temporary “ex parte” order immediately suspending the subject’s right to own or possess firearms. Following the hearing, the court can issue a final risk protection order if the state demonstrates by “clear and convincing evidence” that the subject does in fact pose a danger to the community. Note this standard is less rigorous than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases, but more stringent than the civil standard of “preponderance of the evidence.” An Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer Will Make Sure the Courts Respect Your Rights While Florida legislators acted in response to a horrific school shooting, the availability of risk protection orders will also prove beneficial to police looking to confront individuals suspected of domestic violence. A risk protection order does not require any action on the part of an accuser or victim, since law enforcement may now directly apply for an order to disarm someone deemed a threat to themselves or others. At the same time, this may open the judicial system to abuses, as individuals subject to risk protection orders may not receive adequate due process before their rights are restricted. This is why it is always a good idea to work with an experienced Orlando domestic violence attorney who understands the law in this area and can advise you on how to best assert your rights in court. Contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 377-0150, to schedule a consultation with a member of our team today.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Domestic Violence

When Domestic Abuse Victims are too Afraid to Speak Up

If you ask the typical Orlando-area police officer what scenario they fear most while on-duty, their answer probably will not be “taking down a drug dealer” or responding to a mass shooting. Instead, the officer may tell you their greatest fear is responding to a domestic violence call. And with good reason: According to the FBI, 136 police officers lost their lives between 1988 and 2016 while handling domestic violence matters. This makes domestic violence the single largest category of firearm-related fatalities for law enforcement nationwide. Victims Face Credibility Catch-22 Of course, domestic violence is even more devastating to its victims. And in many cases, victims never bother to contact the police in the first place. A recent report published by USA Today sheds some light on the reasons why. The report cited a 2015 survey by the National Domestic Violence Hotline where about 25 percent of respondents said that while they previously reported acts of domestic violence, they would not contact the police again, mostly out of fear they would not be believed. And more comprehensive statistics gathered by the U.S. Department of Justice suggest more than half of “non-fatal domestic violence” incidents are never reported to police at all. Many domestic violence victims feel they are in a Catch-22 situation. If they call the police right away, they are afraid that officers will not believe their story. But if they later change their mind and contact law enforcement, their delay in seeking assistance may be used as proof their allegations lack credibility. And for many domestic abuse victims–especially in Florida–there is a secondary fear that going to the police might place them at risk for arrest or even deportation. There are approximately 110,000 unauthorized immigrants living in the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metropolitan area, according to a 2017 report from the Pew Research Center. Given the recent focus at the federal level on “cracking down” on undocumented immigrants, many domestic violence victims who might be subject to such a crackdown are understandably reluctant to step forward for fear of losing their jobs, home, and families. Domestic Violence & Deportation It should be noted that despite the political fervor surrounding undocumented immigrants, it is still not okay to commit acts of domestic violence against anyone based on their legal residency status. As U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services itself has made clear, “Under all circumstances, domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse are illegal in the United States,” and every victim–regardless of immigration status–is protected from such acts under law. But on the flip side, if you are a non-citizen convicted of domestic violence–even if you have a visa or green card–you are subject to deportation at any time following said conviction. This means that if you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, it is critical to defend yourself in court. If you need advice or assistance from a qualified Orlando domestic violence attorney, contact Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, today at (407) 377-0150.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Domestic Violence

Recognizing the Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Many relationships are based on love and trust. The two parties involved respect each other enough to not physically or emotionally hurt one another. They do not forcefully push, shove or hit each other, and they do not use or threaten any other type of violence. Some relationships, however, become violent. While men are often the ones accused of domestic violence, women can be abusive, as well. Ultimately, the abuser should be able to control his or her behavior. It’s not the other person’s fault that the abuser physically or emotionally abuses the victim. An abusive relationship is not healthy. However, victims are often afraid to leave the relationship because they fear the abuser will stalk them, hurt them even more or even kill them. Signs to Look For Do you think you or a loved one is in an abusive relationship? There are many signs to look for.  First, analyze your feelings and answer these questions: Do you avoid talking about certain topics because you don’t want to anger your partner? Are you scared of your partner? Do you feel as though you can’t do anything right? Do you feel helpless? Do you feel like you deserve to be mistreated by your partner? Now, think about your partner’s behavior. Does he or she do any of the following? Yell at you Humiliate you Criticize you Treat you in such a cruel manner that you don’t want your loved ones to see Blame you for his or her abusive behavior Belittle your accomplishments Treat you as a sex object Many abusive people resort to threats and violent behavior. Does your partner do any of the following? Hurt you Threaten to kill you Threaten your children Threaten to commit suicide if you leave Destroy your personal property Force you to have sex Many abusive people want to have control of their partners. Does your partner control you in these ways? Act abnormally possessive or jealous Keep you from seeing friends or family Limit your access to certain items, such as your phone, car or money Need to know where you are at all times Constantly check up on you If you answered yes to many of the questions above, you are in an abusive relationship and should seek help right away. Ask a trusted friend or family member to help you. You can seek help in your community. Contact the authorities and get a restraining order. Get Help for Your Criminal Case in Orlando In a domestic violence case, it’s important to understand both sides of the story. Sometimes physical violence occurs accidentally or in self-defense. Sometimes “victims” make up their stories during divorce cases or as acts of revenge. If you are accused of domestic violence, you need someone on your side to help. Contact the aggressive Orlando criminal defense lawyers at Moses & Rooth. We will assess your case and help you achieve the best outcome possible. Call our office at (407) 377-0150 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Domestic Violence

Is Domestic Violence a Public Health Issue?

We all understand that domestic violence is a serious problem in Florida. Indeed, many of us personally know someone who has been affected by acts of domestic abuse or violence. But beyond the individual victims, what does domestic abuse look like in the aggregate? The Global Problem of Intimate Partner Violence The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have both long treated domestic violence as a public health issue and not simply a matter of law enforcement. These agencies study the impact of “intimate partner violence” (IPV) on both women and men from a scientific perspective. Unlike the legal system, which primarily focuses on identifying and punishing known abusers, the public health agencies are more concerned with identifying the root causes of IPV and implementing strategies to prevent it from happening in the first place. According to the CDC, about 25 percent of women and 11 percent of men in the United States have experienced some form of IPV. The CDC defines domestic violence as taking place on a “spectrum.” So while some IPV situations were limited to a single incident, other cases involve a series of “severe episodes” over a period of weeks, months, or years. In this context, IPV incorporates physical abuse and sexual assault, as well as stalking and other intentional behaviors designed to make the victim afraid for their life or safety. So how do these figures add up to a public health crisis? Based on research compiled by WHO, there are substantial “negative health and development consequences” to IPV victims, especially women. In addition to the immediate consequences of the violent acts–which is often death–WHO said IPV “is also an important cause of morbidity from multiple mental, physical, sexual and reproductive health outcomes, and it is also linked with known risk factors for poor health, such as alcohol and drug use, smoking and unsafe sex.” Ultimately, domestic violence puts a strain on the entire health care and social services system. WHO noted that violence against women cost Canada’s national healthcare system almost CAN$1.1 billion. In addition to these direct costs, IPV also frequently “undermines efforts to improve women’s access to education,” limiting their ability to secure better-paying jobs that enable them to escape abusive relationships. Preventing Violence Before the Courts Get Involved IPV generally begins in adolescence or young adulthood. Based on the CDC’s figures, 71 percent of women experience an IPV incident before the age of 25. That is why the CDC and WHO say it is critical for parents and the community at-large to “teach safe and healthy relationship skills” to adolescents. It is also important to identify individuals who are at greater risk of IPV and intervene before legal action becomes necessary. And if the law does have to get involved, remember the accused still has constitutional rights that must be respected. If you are charged with any kind of domestic abuse or violence, you have the right to speak to a qualified Orlando criminal defense lawyer. Call the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 377-0150 or contact us online today if you need immediate assistance.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Domestic Violence

Are you Abused? Types of Domestic Abuse & Violence in Florida

Domestic violence and abuse take many forms. Indeed, there are many cases where a person is the victim of serious abuse but lacks awareness of their own situation. In these situations, victims may dismiss abusive conduct as normal behavior by a partner or even blame themselves for somehow triggering the abuse. It is critical to understand the various forms that domestic abuse may take. Even if the abuse does not rise to the level of physical violence, it is still serious. And if you know someone who is suffering from any of the kinds of abuse described below, you should offer assistance. Physical Abuse Obviously, physical abuse is the most well-known form of domestic violence. Any use of physical force against a family or household member is a criminal offense. There is no “right” to assault someone just because he or she is your partner, child, or relative. Any level of physical force–such as hitting, kicking, or choking–is abuse. And even when physical abuse does not result in injuries that require medical treatment, it can still be reported and prosecuted as domestic violence under Florida law. Emotional Abuse Emotional abuse broadly encompasses behaviors designed to destroy the victim’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth. In many cases emotional abuse does not involve any physical contact between the abuser and the victim. It often takes verbal form, e.g., a partner constantly criticizing you, calling you names, yelling at you in front of other people, and so forth. While such verbal abuse is not in and of itself illegal, if it is part of a pattern of abuse designed to coerce the victim into acting against their will, it may be chargeable as domestic violence. Financial Abuse To that point, emotional abuse is often tied up with financial abuse–the deliberate theft or withholding of resources from a victim in order to further destroy their independence and maintain dependence on the abuser. For example, an abuser may forbid their spouse from working or attending college. The abuser may also control all of the couple’s checking accounts, rendering it impossible for the victim to access any money on their own. Psychological Abuse While emotional abuse targets the victim’s self-esteem, psychological abuse is designed to provoke fear in the victim. Psychological abuse often takes the form of stalking, which is a crime in Florida. Specifically, Section 784.048 of the Florida Statutes defines stalking as “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly” harassing another person. This includes “cyberstalking,” i.e. using email or social media to intimidate the victim. If stalking involves making a “credible threat” to the victim’s safety, the abuser may be charged with a felony. Taking Domestic Violence in Orlando Seriously This is just a brief overview of the types of domestic abuse and violence we see every day here in Florida. If you are a victim–or think you may be a victim–you should seek immediate assistance by contacting the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline. And if you have been charged with a crime arising from allegations of abuse and need to speak with a qualified Orlando domestic violence defense lawyer, contact Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 377-0150 today.

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