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,
- 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.
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.
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,
- 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.