Heated arguments sometimes happen between domestic partners. People say and do things in the heat of the moment that they ultimately regret. A domestic violence charge sometimes arises out of these disputes. Unfortunately, calling the police to settle the dispute often leads to one person finding themselves under arrest—even if no physical assault occurred.
It is important to know what happens when you get a domestic violence charge if the police arrest you after a dispute. You will need the help of dedicated criminal defense lawyers who vow to defend your rights every step of the way. The criminal defense lawyers from Moses and Rooth Attorneys at Law have nearly 40 years of combined experience fighting for justice in Florida courtrooms. They have handled numerous difficult cases, including domestic violence charges. Contact us today.
What Is the Legal Process in a Domestic Violence Case?
The legal process starts when someone calls 911. According to Florida’s domestic violence law, the police have an obligation to ensure that the alleged victim receives medical treatment. Also, the officer must tell the victim about victim services, including access to a shelter for battered women, and how to obtain a domestic violence injunction. Part of that notice includes a statement that a domestic violence victim can ask the State to file a criminal complaint against the alleged abuser. The investigating officer also has to ask the victim for a written statement.
The law allows the police to arrest one or more persons for domestic violence crimes if the officer has probable cause to do so. The officer does not need the victim’s consent to arrest someone on domestic violence charges. And what many people do not understand is that the case is out of the victim’s hands once the police make an arrest. After that, the State decides whether or not to press charges—not the victim.
The accused must remain in jail until brought to court for the first appearance before a judge.
What Happens in Court?
Florida law requires the State to form prosecutorial units with specialized training in prosecuting domestic violence cases. The State Attorney’s Office will review domestic violence complaints and determine if prosecution is appropriate. State law allows the prosecutors to go ahead with the case over the victim’s objection if necessary.
The prosecution team has to review your relevant history before you even go to court. The information must go to the judge when setting bail and for sentencing purposes.
The judge can set bail at your first appearance. According to state law, the judge shall consider the victim’s safety, the safety of any children involved, and the safety of any other person who could be in danger if the court releases the accused. The judge could hold you in jail while awaiting trial or set other conditions to ensure the safety of others.
After bail is determined, the case proceeds much the same as any criminal case. At your arraignment, the judge will set a pre-trial conference date. Your attorney will get discovery and attempt to either work out a good plea bargain before the pre-trial conference. If there are any motions to file and argue, they will do that as well. If your case isn’t settled, then the judge will set it for trial.
How Does a Domestic Violence Charge Affect Your Record?
A conviction triggers potential incarceration, mandatory attendance at a batterers program, and other sanctions.
Under Florida law, a person convicted of a first-offense domestic violence charge must serve at least 10 days in jail if the accused intentionally caused the victim bodily harm. The minimum time increases with each new offense. Additionally, the judge has to sentence an offender to 15 days in jail for a first offense if a child under 16 observed the altercation. The court can also impose probation, community control, and additional incarceration.
Common Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic violence charges arise only when family or household members are involved. A family or household member can be:
- Former spouses;
- People who live together or who once lived together as a family; and
- Parents of a child, even if they never lived together.
The law requires that people live together in a single housing unit to qualify as a family or household member.
Acts That Qualify
Any criminal act of violence that occurs between family or household members is domestic violence. The statute also includes the following crimes as domestic violence:
- Aggravated assault,
- Aggravated battery,
- Sexual assault,
- Sexual batter,
- Aggravated stalking,
- Kidnapping, and
- False Imprisonment.
The court is free to sentence you to the maximum allowed for each crime charged as a domestic offense.
Effective Defense Strategies from Our Experienced Lawyers
Florida’s domestic violence laws are tough. And if you are convicted, a misdemeanor record can affect you negatively for years to come. You need a lawyer who can meet the challenge head-on. Remember that you are presumed innocent until the government proves you guilty. We fight to preserve your presumption of innocence. At Moses and Rooth, we are a firm you can count on when your future is threatened. Contact our firm today for a free consultation.