Domestic Violence Battery
Battery as defined under Florida Statute 784.03 is the actual and intentional touching or striking of another person without consent OR the intentional infliction of bodily harm to someone else.
Although there isn't a specific charge for "domestic violence battery," battery charges often arise from incidents of domestic violence, wherein the accused and accuser are family or household members, as defined in F.S. 741.28. And when battery charges are filed in the context of domestic violence, they may be handled a bit differently.
Violence within the context of the following relationships may give rise to a domestic violence case in Florida:
- Ex spouses.
- People who are related by blood or marriage (brothers-and-sisters-in-law, fathers-and-mothers-in-law, stepparents/stepchildren, etc.)
- People who live together as a family.
- People who previously lived together as a family.
- Individuals who share a child in common - regardless of whether they were ever married or lived together.
Except for those who share a child, the law specifically requires a current or previous joint living arrangement. But to be clear, proving this relationship is not necessary to be convicted of battery. It may, however, be raised if the alleged victim requests an order of protection against the accused, and courts may order additional consequences/accountability.
Lots of people confuse the term "battery" with "assault." They are sometimes charged together, but are distinct crimes in their own right under Florida law. Battery is the more serious of the two.
Assault occurs when a defendant threatens the alleged victim while having the ability to carry out the threat, resulting in the alleged victim's reasonable fear that violence is about to take place. Battery, however, involves actual physical contact and/or bodily harm.
Allegations of domestic violence battery immediately bring to mind mental images of one person physically striking another. And battery can involve hitting someone with fists. But it can also encompass a much broader range of actions.
Some examples of actions that have resulted in domestic violence battery charges:
- Touching a person that did not invite or does not want to be touched. That can include pinching, slapping, kicking, scratching, or groping.
- Spitting on someone.
- Throwing something at someone.
- Pushing someone else into the alleged victim.
- Tripping someone.
- Shoving the alleged victim into an object or in a manner that causes them to fall.
- Grabbing for an object in the alleged victim's possession and harming them in the process.
Even indirect contact qualifies. So for example if you grab a person's shirt, purse, or backpack and use that to shove or push them, this can qualify as "battery" - even though you never directly laid hands on the person.
If you're arrested for domestic violence battery in Florida, there are often effective legal defenses that may apply in your case. When you work closely with an experienced Fort Lauderdale domestic violence lawyer, you improve your odds of having the charges and penalties reduced, if not dropped altogether.Punishment for Florida Domestic Violence Battery Conviction
Domestic violence battery in Florida is a first-degree misdemeanor. This is the highest level of misdemeanor charges, which means you can be sentenced to a maximum of one year in jail, up to 12 months of supervised release (probation), and a maximum fine of $1,000.
When a battery case involves the element of domestic violence, it may be treated a bit differently than other battery cases.
For example, in addition to the penalties already outlined, defendants may also be subject to:
- A mandatory domestic violence batterer intervention class. This is a 26-week course, and the defendant is responsible for footing the bill.
- 5 days minimum mandatory jail time. This applies to cases where the defendant is found guilty and there was bodily injury.
- Community service hours that go above and beyond regularly-assigned hours.
- Loss of key civil liberties, such as the right to freely carry firearms.
- A no-contact/injunction order (also known as a restraining order) that restricts your interactions with the alleged victim.
You might also find yourself answering for these actions in family court. A conviction for domestic violence battery can be considered a substantial change in circumstance that may warrant modification of an existing child custody or parenting time agreement - meaning you could be seeing less of your kids. Whatever time you do retain with them, the court might order it to be supervised.
Beyond this, domestic violence charges can never be expunged or sealed. This is true even if it was a misdemeanor, first-offense, and no one was seriously hurt. It also applies in cases where the court withholds adjudication. If you plead guilty or no contest to domestic violence battery, that charge is going to remain on your permanent record your entire life.
These additional potential impacts to your life are just further proof you must take this charge seriously and invest in quality legal representation. Our Broward domestic violence defense lawyers are here to help.
If you have been charged with domestic violence battery in South Florida, call The Ansara Law Firm today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011.