Being charged with a domestic violence criminal charge can be a very emotional experience, particularly because of the relationship between parties involved. It is important to understand how someone can be charged with a domestic violence charge and what the potential penalties are, since they are different than non-domestic violence charges.
Domestic violence charges include: "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." Many people believe that a criminal charge can only be considered domestic violence if committed by one spouse toward another spouse. In Florida, family or household member is defined as: "spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married."
When the police are called to the scene of a potential domestic violence situation, someone will almost certainly get arrested. Sometimes who is arrested is based solely on which party has more scrapes and bruises, or which party is a smoother talker. Then, you cannot even bond out of jail until seen by a magistrate judge who will then determine what your bond amount will be after hearing from the prosecutor. Even though some domestic violence cases get dismissed prior to filing or early on during discovery, the person arrested will now have that arrest reflected on their criminal record. And, unfortunately, domestic violence crimes can never be sealed or expunged. Your attorney would have to try to get the prosecutor to change the charge in order to be eligible.
If your case is not dismissed, in addition to the standard potential penalties that may be imposed for the specific crime, a person who is found guilty of or accepts a plea, will be ordered to a minimum of 12 months of probation and must attend a batterer's intervention program. If adjudicated/convicted of the crime, the court must order a minimum of 5 days in the county jail, regardless of the severity of the offense.
It is important to hire an attorney you can trust and that can help get you the best resolution possible for your case. We care about our clients and the impact criminal charges have on their lives. Contact us for a free consultation.