First-Time Domestic Violence
Domestic violence can take many different forms. Florida law enforcement officers and prosecutors take domestic violence seriously, even if you have no prior criminal record. If you are concerned about first-time domestic violence charges, you should call an attorney immediately. At Mayberry Law Firm, our Tampa domestic violence lawyer has many years of experience providing client-first legal representation.First-Time Domestic Violence
Domestic violence offenses include a range of crimes perpetrated by a family or household member against another family or household member. Crimes that may count as domestic violence when the perpetrator and the victim have a familial or household relationship include assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, sexual battery, false imprisonment, and other crimes causing death or physical injury.
Family or household members include spouses, ex-spouses, blood relatives, relatives by marriage, people who live together as if family, and parents with a child in common. Other than parents with a child in common, the victim and the perpetrator must currently or have formerly lived together in a dwelling unit to meet the Florida definition of family or household member.
The prosecutor will need to prove the elements of the crime, along with the family or household relationship, beyond a reasonable doubt; these elements vary. To secure a conviction for domestic violence aggravated battery, for example, a prosecutor needs to establish that you perpetrated a battery, you knowingly or intentionally caused great bodily harm, permanent disfigurement, or permanent disability, or used a deadly weapon, and there was a familial or household relationship with the victim. For example, someone could be charged with domestic violence aggravated battery if they kicked their ex-wife in the ribs, fracturing them.
Usually, first-time domestic violence is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, but the charges may be more serious when there is a serious bodily injury. Subsequent felony offenses could result in incarceration and higher fines.
You should be aware that the choice of whether to bring criminal charges or not rests with the prosecutor, rather than the victim. However, a victim of alleged domestic violence can petition for a protective injunction if they have reasonable cause to think that they are in imminent danger of becoming victimized by domestic violence. An injunction may restrain you from perpetrating domestic violence and require you to keep a certain distance from the victim. It might also award exclusive use of your home to the victim and provide temporary support for your children. Violations of the injunction may be charged as misdemeanors in the first degree.Penalties
If you are convicted of first-time domestic violence, you can face one year in jail or on probation and a $1,000 fine. You may need to complete an expensive 26-week batterers’ intervention program as a condition of the probation. The court must state on the record why the program is not appropriate if it uses its discretion not to impose the batterers’ intervention program as part of your sentence.
Under Section 741.283, a conviction of a first-time domestic violence offense that involved intentional infliction of bodily harm will result in a mandatory sentence of at least 10 days in county jail. An exception is when the sentence involves a non-suspended term of incarceration in a state correctional facility.
A domestic violence conviction can also lead to other non-judicial consequences. It could make it difficult for you to get a job, secure housing, obtain a professional license, or secure financial aid for higher education.Defenses
Although the consequences are serious, you should not lose heart because you were charged with domestic violence. A conviction is not certain. There are defenses that your attorney may be able to raise on your behalf. Depending on the circumstances, these could include consent, false allegations, defense of property, self-defense, stand your ground, and defense of others. In some cases, it is appropriate to raise a reasonable doubt about an element of the underlying offense; for instance, we may be able to create a reasonable doubt about whether an alleged aggravated battery involved “intentionally” or “knowingly” causing great bodily harm.Consult a Seasoned Tampa Lawyer
Domestic violence charges are aggressively prosecuted. Charges against you should be handled carefully by an attorney who is sensitive to the consequences and can identify the strongest strategies for defense. The Mayberry Law Firm may be able to counsel and represent you regarding these charges. We represent clients in Tampa and other areas of Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota, Polk, Manatee, and Hardee Counties. Call us at (813) 444-7435 or complete our online form.