Domestic violence charges are serious offenses regardless of the context. A charge that involves the presence of children may threaten your future relationship with those children if you are ultimately convicted.
Even if the actual physical violence was directed solely upon the adult members of the household, child abuse and neglect charges often may accompany these allegations and can work against you if you are trying to maintain a relationship with your children after charges are filed.
Domestic Violence in Florida
Domestic violence is defined under Florida law as “assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”
“Household member” is loosely defined and does not include only blood relatives, but rather, extends to persons that reside together as a family. This can include individuals that have a child together, even if the individuals are not married.
These crimes, named under “assault” or “battery”, generally mean physical contact or threat of imminent physical contact that induces reasonable fear in the victim. Even a threat of violence can make another member of the household feel threatened to the point he or she gets the authorities involved, which may jeopardize your future.
Many people erroneously think that you can only commit a domestic violence offense against a spouse, but that is not the case. Police made over 67,000 arrests in 2010 from domestic violence crimes committed in the State of Florida alone, although it is estimated that many more offenses that are committed go unreported. Victims of domestic violence may not report out of fear for themselves or the safety of their children, or a reliance upon the offender for support and companionship.
Child Abuse and Neglect Charges
Even if a child was not harmed during a physical altercation, such incidents may lead to investigations that lead to additional allegations of child abuse. If it is determined that a child’s safety or health has been endangered due to the actions of abuse going on in the household, child abuse and neglect charges may be filed against you and/or other members of the household.
This is particularly true since child abuse, by definition, includes not just physical abuse, but mental injury upon a child. These are felony charges that can bring much steeper penalties than domestic violence committed against another adult and can be charged when physical abuse against other members of the household is discovered.
Facing Domestic Violence Charges
If you or anyone you know has been accused of domestic violence or child abuse in Florida, you need experienced criminal defense attorneys that you can trust to advocate for you to save your future and your relationship with your children. These types of charges are not often given lenient sentences, even for first time offenders. Understanding your legal rights and responsibilities during the course of your criminal case will ensure that your case is dispensed with as quickly and quietly as possible.
Contact an experienced domestic violence defense attorney at Moses & Rooth in Orlando to learn more about your rights as a criminal defendant today.
CC image courtesy of Bridget Coila at Flickr