| Read Time: 4 minutes | Domestic Violence

How Serious Is a Domestic Violence Charge for a First-Time Offender?

Domestic violence is a serious charge that carries a social stigma that few other offenses do. Even if you are convicted on a first-time domestic violence charge, the consequences could follow you for the rest of your life. Common penalties for domestic violence include incarceration, fines, probation, community service, and compulsory counseling. What Is Domestic Violence in Florida? In Florida, the term “domestic violence” is an umbrella term that does not refer to a single offense. Instead, it refers to a category of related offenses. According to Florida’s definition of domestic violence, some of these offenses include: Assault & battery, Sexual assault, Stalking, Kidnapping,  False imprisonment,  Sexual battery, and Any other offense resulting in injury or death. To qualify as domestic violence, the crime must be committed by one family or household member against another family or household member.  Pre-Trial Issues The risk of a domestic violence conviction is one problem. In addition, you will have several concerns to deal with before a trial even occurs (if it ever does).  Bail The standard bail bond is $500, but that can vary depending on your criminal history and other factors the judge may consider. With a skilled lawyer, however, you might obtain a Release on Recognizance (ROR) which wouldn’t require you to pay any money. The “No Contact” Order Once you are charged with domestic violence, the court will automatically issue a “no contact” order that prevents you from contacting your accuser in any way. This could represent a huge problem. For example, suppose that the accuser is your spouse. Your spouse may want to contact you regarding important custody or financial issues that arose because of your domestic violence charge. But speaking with them can violate the no contact order. We can help you resolve such difficulties by petitioning the court to modify the order for the sake of you and your accuser. Meanwhile, you are going to need to strictly observe the no contact order. Even a slight deviation could result in serious negative consequences — regardless of the validity of the reason. A violation could also jeopardize your defense. The no contact order might expire once your charges are resolved. Counseling For a first-time offense of domestic violence, seeking counseling on your own is one way to soften the prosecutor. In response, the prosecutor might offer a favorable plea bargain or even drop first-time domestic violence charges. Seeking counseling is a move that should be made, if at all, soon after the prosecutor charges you with domestic violence. Plea Bargaining Your lawyer may be able to negotiate a favorable plea bargain for you. The prosecutor can make the plea bargain favorable in a number of ways. They can offer you a light sentence in exchange for taking classes, for instance. They can even agree to let you plea to a lesser charge without the domestic violence enhancement if they feel the facts warrant such diversion. Prosecutors often agree to a plea bargain to save the time and expense of a trial, or as a reflection of an evidentiary weakness in their case against you. The Domestic Violence Diversion Program  The prosecutor might offer you a plea bargain in which you avoid incarceration and a permanent criminal record in favor of completion of the Domestic Violence Diversion Program. The advantage of this program is that if you complete it within the allotted time, Florida will dismiss the charges against you.   For some defendants, completing the Diversion Program might be the best option. It is not likely to be the best option, however, if you are innocent, or if the prosecutor lacks the evidence to convict you of domestic violence. The disadvantages of accepting such a plea deal may include: The program is expensive and time-consuming; Some professionals, such as teachers, must still notify their professional associations of their participation in a diversion program; and Florida can reject your application to participate in the diversion program. In this case you will end up right back where you started. Seeking an acquittal might be the better option under certain circumstances. Your lawyer can assess your chances of winning at trial and advise you as to the best course of action. Penalties for First-Offense Domestic Violence The penalties for domestic violence vary depending on the type of offense committed, the underlying circumstances, and your criminal history. The prosecutor can charge you with either a misdemeanor or a felony.  In the typical scenario, the prosecutor charges a first-time domestic violence offender with first-degree misdemeanor battery. Conviction of first-degree misdemeanor battery carries a sentence of:  Up to one year of jail time (with a minimum period of incarceration of 10 days if you intentionally injured the victim);  A $500 fine; and  Participation in a 26-week course called the “Batterers Intervention Program.” If the prosecutor charges you with a felony, you could face up to five years in prison. Your sentence could increase if your accuser already had a restraining order or an injunction issued against you. Federal Charges The federal government might charge you with domestic violence if multi-state activity was involved. This might happen, for example, if you lock someone in your car and carry them across a state line. Act Decisively The Florida criminal defense attorneys at Moses and Rooth have worked as prosecutors. That means we understand how prosecutors think and how they are likely to react. There is very little that can happen in a criminal prosecution that would surprise us. We’ve seen it all before. Telephone us at (407) 439-1762 or contact us online for a risk free consultation.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Domestic Violence

Is Domestic Violence a Felony in Florida?

If you are arrested for domestic violence in Florida, we understand that you face a range of fears and uncertainties. Along with all these challenges, by its nature and definition, facing a charge of domestic violence means personal relationship upheavals. You also have significant legal issues at hand, and your immediate question may be, Is domestic violence a felony? This situation is a lot to process, and the lawyers at Moses & Rooth are here to assist regarding your immediate and ongoing legal needs. When Do the Police Charge Someone with Domestic Violence? Florida general statutes address at length the laws related to domestic violence. Domestic violence charges are affected by three primary circumstances: the specific type of act involved, whether someone suffered an injury, and the relationship between the actor and the victim. In determining whether you will be charged with domestic violence, the police therefore have to put together several puzzle pieces.  Type of Act The first step for police is to determine what type of crime allegedly occurred. A number of different actions can be subject to domestic violence charges, including: Assault or battery,  Aggravated assault or battery, Sexual assault,  Sexual battery,  Stalking,  Aggravated stalking,  Kidnapping, or False imprisonment. Although this list includes most types of domestic violence, additional criminal offenses may fall into this category as well. Injury The next step for law enforcement is to determine whether the act resulted in physical injury or death. The police have a lot of discretion in determining whether something constitutes an injury. Relationship The final step is investigating the relationship of the parties involved. To support a domestic violence charge, the person charged must have committed the violent act against a family or household member. Suppose a person committed one of the acts in step one (assault, kidnapping, etc.) against another family or household member and there was a resulting injury to the victim. In that case, the police will likely issue a charge of domestic violence—the puzzle pieces (an act, an injury, and a familial relationship) are all present. How Does the Law Define Family Members? In Florida, our statutes define family or household members as any of the following: Persons related by blood or marriage; Current or former spouses; Persons who currently reside or formerly resided together as a family; or Parents (married or not) who have a child in common. Parents who have a child in common need not have ever lived together to be considered family or household members. However, for all other relationships, the parties involved must currently or previously have lived together for the domestic violence law to consider them a family or household member. What Is an Example of Domestic Violence? Domestic violence envelops a wide array of acts and situations. The most common charges include actions such as pushing, restraining, slapping/punching, kicking, and scratching. Here is an example. A parent and their 19-year-old adult child are residing in the same home. They get into a yelling argument. The parent punches the 19-year-old and breaks their jaw. This circumstance is domestic violence because: The parent committed the crime of battery when they punched the 19-year-old; The parent injured the 19-year-old when they broke their jaw; and The 19-year-old is a family member of the parent. This example is very basic. However, many domestic violence charges are complicated. If you have been charged with domestic violence or fear that the law may charge you, you need legal representation by Moses & Rooth. Our attorneys will hear your story, investigate the facts further, and then mount a vigorous defense. Domestic Violence Felony: Florida Law Each domestic violence case is different. Thus, answering the question, Is domestic violence a felony or a misdemeanor? in a given situation can be complicated. The judicial system will determine the level based on myriad factors, including: The injury to the victim; The type of contact the offender leveled against the victim; Whether the victim was a minor; Whether the law has charged the offender before; and The totality of the circumstances of the situation. Regardless of the final charge, domestic violence is severe, and a conviction can be life-altering. Let an attorney work with you to defend you and try and get your charges dismissed or reduced. Domestic Violence Punishment A person charged with domestic violence will face sentencing by a judge if they are convicted or plead guilty. The law provides that sentencing may include: A mandatory period of incarceration, An additional period of incarceration, Probation,  Placement in community control (house arrest, halfway house, etc.), Completing a batterers’ intervention program, and  Attending mandatory counseling. The bottom line is that if the court convicts you of domestic violence, you will face consequences and have a criminal record. The punishments can cost you your job, impact your ability to own a firearm, affect custody of your children, and require you to stay away from the victim and perhaps other family members. Moses & Rooth: Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys If law enforcement has charged or may charge you with domestic violence, contacting Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, in Orlando, Florida, should be your first act. Andrew Moses and Jay Rooth are owners and partner attorneys in the firm. Their clients speak of their dedication and legal excellence.  The criminal defense attorneys of Moses and Rooth have extensive trial experience and in-depth knowledge of the federal and state criminal justice systems. We will put you at ease and never judge those charged with domestic violence. Contact Moses & Rooth when you need legal assistance. We offer a free consultation as well as ongoing affordable service.

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| 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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