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FAQ's: Domestic Violence

Domestic violence isn’t a new phenomenon in Florida. Still, it wasn’t until the 1970s that federal and state laws in the U.S. began reflecting the societal shift of recognizing acts of violence against children, spouses, dating partners, and family members as criminal offenses, rather than private matters.

Today, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 105,000 incidents of domestic violence are reported to police in Florida every year. On any given day in the Sunshine State, there are nearly 20,000 calls made to local domestic violence hotlines - about 1 every 13 minutes. Alleged acts of domestic violence in Florida account for roughly 20 percent of all violent crime in this state.

Far from being private matters, allegations of South Florida domestic violence can result in serious and lasting consequences for the accused. F.S. 741.2901(2) expressly states that lawmakers’ intent is to make domestic violence a criminal act as opposed to a “private matter.”

Among the (decidedly public) potential impacts:

  • Jail or prison time.
  • Thousands of dollars in fines.
  • Injunctions for protection/restraining orders.
  • Required participation in batterer’s intervention.
  • Revocation or limitation of child custody and/or parenting time.
  • Impact on property division, spousal support, alimony awards in a pending divorce.
  • Ineligibility for certain jobs, such as teaching, law enforcement, healthcare, government positions, work with vulnerable populations, etc.
  • A mark on your permanent record that will always be available for anyone to discover.

Domestic violence is considered a “multiplier,” meaning it can carry more severe penalties than the underlying charge on its own.

It’s more than your reputation on the line. It could mean your livelihood. Your right to bear arms. Your relationship with your kids. And of course, your freedom.

That does not mean defendants in domestic violence cases should lose hope. But they should approach it with an appropriate degree of seriousness.

What Does Florida Law Consider Domestic Violence?

As explained in Florida Statute 741.28, violence is any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death by one person against another. What sets domestic violence apart from the rest is that it involves family or household members. It is understood to involve married or common law spouses, former spouses, people related by blood or marriage, people who are living together as a family (or who did at one time), and those who share a child together.

Dating partners - unless they live together or used to live together - generally aren’t included in this definition, although there is a specific type of protective injunction available to those in dating relationships.

If you are arrested for domestic violence in South Florida, you are innocent until proven guilty. You do have certain rights afforded to you under the constitution. Furthermore, these cases can pose unique challenges to prosecutors - which means you may have a better shot than you realize at a favorable outcome.

However, your success is going to be significantly impaired if you try to do so on your own, especially in this modern, post #MeToo-era world. Working with a Broward defense attorney with a track record of success specifically in domestic violence cases is the best way to minimize the short- and long-term impacts to your life.

Getting Answers to Your Domestic Violence Case Questions

Whether this is your first arrest or you’re fairly familiar with the back of a police car, you likely have some questions about the allegations against you, what consequences you’re facing, and your odds of avoiding conviction.

The internet is a treasure trove of information, but you have to tread carefully. Not all of it is accurate and it may not apply to your case - especially if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for. Other states may have different laws on the books, different case law, and varying procedures.

The best way to get reliable answers about Florida law as it applies to the facts of your domestic violence case is to consult with a Florida criminal defense lawyer with experience specifically in domestic violence cases. Attorneys will often give you a free initial consultation, during which you can ask some basic questions and see whether you feel confident in their ability to represent you.

To be clear, no criminal defense lawyer can give you legal advice until they’re hired to do so. However, they can offer some hypotheticals about what people in similar situations generally expect, detail the potential consequences you’re facing, and explain some of the most effective legal strategies employed in similar cases. Ideally, you’ll talk to 2 or 3 attorneys before deciding who you want to hire.

Our Broward domestic violence defense lawyers are committed to being responsive and forthcoming when answering questions from clients and prospective clients. We understand this is a stressful time, there is a lot riding on the outcome of this case, and you are hoping to put it all behind you as soon as possible.

Some of the most frequently asked questions raised by domestic violence case defendants are:

As a courtesy, our Broward criminal defense lawyers provide some general answers here to questions commonly asked by defendants in Florida domestic violence cases. More specific information regarding the facts of your case and potential outcomes is available during consultations and once we’re hired to represent you.

If you have been arrested for domestic violence in Southeast Florida - including Broward, Miami, and Palm Beach Counties - call The Ansara Law Firm today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011.

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