The legal process involved following an alleged incident of domestic violence can be especially complex, and working with an experienced domestic battery attorney can help defendants avoid unintentionally waiving their rights or altering the outcome in favor of the complainant.
Below explains the general process of a domestic violence hearing in Florida, including an explanation of the basic evidentiary standards (and exclusions) in this unique civil proceeding. And, as always, if you find yourself facing a domestic battery allegation, immediately contact the Fowler Law Group to get started on your defense.
Purpose of a Domestic Violence Hearing
Domestic violence litigation begins when the complainant (i.e., accuser) files a petition for protection, at which point the court will either grant or deny an emergency ex parte order. In either event, the court will schedule a hearing on the merits of the accuser’s case. In order to proceed on the matter, the accuser must meet several requirements, including:
- Standing as a domestic violence victim (i.e., familial or household relation to the defendant)
- Threat of imminent danger or evidence of violent crime or threats
The “full evidentiary hearing” will take place at the conclusion of a temporary restraining order 15 days following the initial petition for emergency relief if the temporary restraining order was denied.
Evidence Available at a Full Evidentiary Hearing
Generally speaking, traditional rules of evidence are applicable to the domestic battery hearing in Florida. For instance, hearsay rules will apply to ensure the truth and reliability of testimony offered to the court, and exceptions to the hearsay rule will allow for certain out-of-court statements to be admissible by either party.
However, there are certain additional exceptions to evidence rules that come into play in the unique setting of a domestic violence hearing. For instance, Florida law allows for the introduction of testimony by an alleged child victim of abuse – even if that that evidence would have been otherwise inadmissible. More specifically, if a child (generally aged 11 or younger) alleges physical or sexual abuse to an adult, that adult may testify to the statements in a subsequent hearing. This type of testimony in any other setting would be considered inadmissible hearsay and prohibited from entry into evidence.
Outcomes of a Domestic Battery Hearing
The domestic violence hearing will generally last several hours or it may even require more than one day. During this time, both parties will be able to enter evidence to support or refute a finding of domestic violence. The alleged victim will be represented by the state of Florida, while the accused will be represented by a domestic battery attorney.
At the conclusion of the matter, the court will decide if issuing a permanent injunction between the parties is necessary, based on information gathered at the hearing. If so, the defendant will be required to maintain a certain distance from the victim and generally may not contact the victim for any reason. If an injunction is ordered, the defendant may face serious civil and criminal consequences for violating its terms.
Contact the Fowler Law Group Today
If you are facing a domestic violence charge and would like to know what to expect at your upcoming hearing, contact the Sarasota domestic battery lawyers with the Fowler Law Group right away. To reach us, call our Sarasota office at (941) 900-3100.