Domestic Battery Laws Explained
Seen as a crime of violence, a battery conviction could lead to mandatory anger management counseling, probation, jail, or even prison. There are always two sides to a story, and it is important to have experienced Sarasota domestic battery lawyers in your corner who are willing and able to present your side of the events.
When a heated conflict between two family members suddenly turns physical, one or both participants may face domestic violence charges. Under Florida law, a criminal assault or battery becomes a domestic violence issue when certain facts are present in the situation — namely, the victims and participants maintain a familial or ex-familial relationship. The term “domestic violence” can encompass a wide range of activities beyond assault or battery. If you are facing a recent domestic violence charge, we encourage you to contact a domestic battery lawyer in Sarasota immediately, as conviction of this crime could leave lasting consequences on your criminal record. In a successful domestic battery defense, there may be alternatives for your case that, with the help of your lawyer, could avoid the caustic results of a permanent domestic violence conviction.
Generally, a battery occurs when someone becomes the victim of an unwanted touching. Contrary to popular belief, a battery does not necessarily have to be a punch. It can be as simple as a push, poke, or even spit. Nevertheless, simple battery is considered a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida, punishable by 11 months and 29 days in county jail. When prosecuting battery cases, the state will typically use photographs collected by police officers at the scene, witness statements, and their own observations of how the alleged victim looked when police arrived. It VERY important that the defense of battery cases begin as soon as possible after the arrest. The defendant may have bruising or scrapes consistent with self-defense, and it is important to document that evidence before the injuries begin to fade. The Sarasota domestic battery attorneys at Fowler Law Group can help by explaining the process and advising you as to what steps can be taken to place you in the best position possible.
Felony battery occurs when the injuries to the alleged victim are serious enough to cause “great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement,” Felony battery also takes place when it is “aggravated” in the sense that a deadly weapon was used, or the victim was pregnant, and the defendant knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant. Aggravated battery charges could lead to up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and/or fines up to $10,000. Felony battery is a serious charge that needs serious defense work to explore any potential defenses. Don’t leave the fate of your conviction up to chance.
Contact a Sarasota domestic battery attorney from the Fowler Law Group today by calling (941) 900-3100 or using our contact form.
There are a number of collateral consequences to pleading guilty or no contest to a domestic violence charge. Aside from incarceration, convicts may be unable to obtain or maintain employment, enroll in school, or obtain certain certifications or licensure.
Other penalties associated with a domestic violence charge include:
- Relinquishment of firearms
- Loss of custody or visitation rights
- Mandatory participation in domestic violence counseling
- Mandatory jail time if injuries are reported
There are several ways to defend against domestic battery charges, and your attorney can help you determine the best course of action for your case. For instance, if your accuser was the first to become physical, you may be able to successfully argue that you acted in self-defense.
Likewise, the presence of mental health issues — including substance abuse — could help with a reduction in charges, provided you agree to attend counseling or some sort of treatment facility to help with the underlying problem. As always, your Sarasota domestic battery lawyers will work tirelessly to uncover inconsistencies, exaggerations, or fabrications in the evidence and testimony provided by both the accuser and law enforcement.
When Can Someone Be Charged with Domestic Battery In Florida?
The crime of domestic battery involves committing battery against a “family or household member.”
This includes battery committed against a:
- Former spouse
- Person related by blood or marriage
- Cohabitant who resides together “as if a family”
- Former cohabitant who resided together “as if a family”
- Parent of a shared child
The significance of being charged with domestic battery as opposed to “ordinary” battery is that a domestic battery conviction can carry additional penalties. As noted above, these penalties can include, among others, mandatory counseling (at your expense) and loss of the ability to spend time with your children.
While domestic battery is one form of domestic violence charge in Florida, it is also possible to face a charge for domestic assault. Sexual assault differs from battery in that assault only involves making a threat or causing fear of harm, whereas battery involves unwanted physical contact. Depending upon the circumstances involved in a domestic altercation, it is possible that the altercation could result in charges for domestic assault, domestic battery, or both.
Unfortunately, false accusations of domestic battery are common. If you have been falsely accused, it will be important for you to work closely with one of our experienced Sarasota domestic battery lawyers to expose the true facts of your case.
From witness statements and social media posts to phone records and medical records, there are several different forms of evidence that can be used to prove false accusations. When our lawyers take your case, we will work to prove that you have been falsely accused.
What Are Possible Defenses that Sarasota Domestic Battery Lawyers Use to Beat a Domestic Battery Charge in Florida?
There are several possible defenses to domestic battery in Florida. The defenses you have available will depend upon the specific facts of your particular case.
In addition to false accusations, some examples of possible defenses to domestic battery include:
- Accidental injury
- Self defense
- Defense of others
- Constitutional violations (i.e. unlawful search or seizure)
- Insufficient evidence of guilt
Battery in Florida assumes unauthorized contact. The victim cannot have given consent to be touched. If the victim does consent to such contact, then the defendant cannot be convicted of battery.
Florida law recognizes a unique battery defense related to consent known as mutual combat. In the mutual combat defense, the defendant must show that each individual involved in a fight consented to the fight and understood the consequences. If the involved individuals did consent to a fight and the consequences thereof, then the defendant cannot be convicted of battery on the basis of this demonstrated consent.
Importantly, to make use of the defense, the defendant cannot have been the main aggressor in the fight.
In addition to criminal penalties, facing a domestic battery charge can have various other consequences — and you can face some of these consequences regardless of whether you get convicted. In particular, if your case is made public, then you can face the stigma of being accused of domestic battery regardless of the true facts at hand.
With this in mind, our Sarasota domestic battery lawyers know it is often desirable to avoid going to trial. If avoiding trial is in your best interests, our lawyers will work to secure a favorable pre-trial result. If the circumstances are such that you cannot avoid a conviction entirely, we will work to negotiate a plea bargain that minimizes the consequences of your charge to the greatest extent possible.
In Florida, when an officer responds to a domestic disturbance call, more likely than not one party will be going to jail that night, with a zero bond. This means that the defendant will be unable to get out of jail until a first appearance judge sets bond, which will take place within 24 hours of the defendant’s arrest. At first appearances, the judge has the option to set restrictions upon the release of the defendant, usually issuing a no-contact order between the defendant and the victim and prohibiting the defendant from returning to the property where the alleged incident took place. As a result, the defendant will often be prohibited from speaking to a loved one, or even returning to their home.
In certain circumstances, a Sarasota defense attorney may be able to get these conditions of released modified so that the defendant may return home. Additionally, upon conviction for such an offense, the defendant would be required to attend and complete a 29-week Certified Batterer’s Intervention Program, in addition to other sanctions such as fines, probation, or even incarceration.
When you hire a member of the Fowler Law Group, you’ll have an attorney who has been on both sides of the table when dealing with these types of cases. As former prosecutors, our Sarasota domestic battery attorneys have handled minor domestic cases involving pushes, to more involved cases dealing with injury to the alleged victim.
If you are facing a recent domestic violence or battery charge, contacting our Sarasota domestic battery defense lawyers is one of the best phone calls you can make.
To get started on your defense and to preserve your reputation, please contact our office by calling (941) 900-3100.
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