A conviction for domestic violence can hold severe punishment and affect family relationships, social relationships, and professional reputations. A charge for domestic violence does not necessarily mean a conviction. If you have been charged with domestic violence, let the experienced domestic violence defense attorneys at Moses and Rooth explain the domestic violence defenses available to you.
Under Florida Statute 741.28, domestic violence is an:
- aggravated assault
- aggravated battery
- sexual assault
- sexual battery
- aggravated stalking
- false imprisonment
- or a criminal offense that results in physical injury or death of a family or household member by another family or household member.
Common Defenses to Domestic Violence in Florida
A spouse or family member that is hit, kicked, pushed, or experiences any other type of abuse by another spouse or family member has the right to protect themselves against such an attack. Florida has several self-defense laws available for a person that was defending themselves when arrested on a domestic violence charge.
Under Florida Statute Chapter 776, a person is allowed to use force, but not deadly force, if the person reasonably believes such conduct is necessary to defend themselves or another against the imminent use of unlawful force. Chapter 776 also allows for the use of deadly force when a person reasonably believes deadly force is necessary to defend themselves or another against imminent death or great bodily harm.
Police officers can find domestic issues hard to sort out while emotions are running high at the scene, and sometimes arrests will be made when they should not be. If a spouse, child, or another family member residing in the residence is accidentally injured during a domestic disturbance, sometimes arrests will be made when there was no actual abusive action. If a couple gets into a verbal argument and during the shouting match either party trips, falls, and hits her head without any physical altercation with the other spouse, then domestic violence has not occurred.
False Allegations and Self-inflicted Injuries
A thorough investigation should be conducted when a claim of domestic violence is made. False allegations of abuse and even self-inflicted injuries by spouses in order to seek revenge for past or perceived wrongs do occur in cases of domestic violence. An expert witness can distinguish between an injury caused by another person and a self-inflicted injury. False allegations can be used during child custody battles in order for one spouse to gain an upper hand. If there are allegations or a conviction for domestic violence, a judge may not see it in the best interest of the child to be in the custody of the parent accused or convicted of domestic violence.
Lack of Evidence
The prosecutor may lack the evidence needed in a domestic violence case. If the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender is guilty of domestic violence then there will be no conviction. The police at times also mishandle evidence during domestic violence cases, which can weaken or destroy the case against the offender.
It Wasn’t Me
In Florida, you can use the “it wasn’t me” domestic violence defense to assert an alibi or mistaken identity defense. Alibi defenses generally entail an argument that you were somewhere else when the crime occurred, so you could not have committed the offense. Some common types of evidence that can support this defense include the following:
- Witness testimony to verify your whereabouts at the time of the alleged offense,
- Surveillance footage showing you were at another location, or
- Documentation proving that you were elsewhere.
For a mistaken identity defense, you would argue that police or witnesses mistakenly identified you as the perpetrator.
When using an alibi defense, you argue that you were somewhere else when the crime occurred and, therefore, could not have committed it. To support this domestic violence defense strategy, individuals often present the following:
- Evidence showing discrepancies between the accused’s physical appearance and the descriptions or images of the perpetrator; and
- Evidence highlighting bias or unreliability in eyewitness identifications.
In either of these defenses, the burden of proof remains on the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are responsible for the offense.
Police Can’t Bring Charges
In Florida, law enforcement might be unable to pursue criminal charges for domestic violence if they do not have substantial evidence to support the claim. Insufficient evidence includes the following:
- Unreliable witness accounts,
- Blurry surveillance footage, or
- The absence of physical evidence linking you to the offense.
These issues can prevent police from pursuing charges or developing a viable case.
Moreover, constitutional violations can prevent law enforcement from pursuing charges. In these situations, any evidence obtained in violation of your rights may be inadmissible in court.
Speak with a Dedicated Domestic Violence Defense Attorney About Your Case Today
If you have been arrested for a domestic violence offense, it is important you take the allegations seriously–even if they were exaggerated or entirely fabricated. At Moses and Rooth Attorneys at Law, our dedicated DV defense attorneys have extensive experience both as prosecutors and as defense lawyers. This gives us invaluable insight into the prosecution’s mind, allowing us to anticipate their moves. We’re also familiar with what prosecutors will find to be compelling mitigation, for those clients seeking to avoid going to trial. To learn more, contact an attorney today for consultation on the defenses available to you. Let the experienced domestic violence defense attorneys of Moses and Rooth craft a defense for you.