Florida law defines this criminal charge as a certain type of crime that happens between people in one of several certain types of relationships. The people in the relationship do not have to be married or even dating in order for an alleged offender to face these types of charges. This crime can include arguments, physical touching, psychological abuse, harsh words or threats of violence.
According to Florida Statute § 741.28, domestic violence is defined as any criminal offense by one family or household member against another that results in injury or death, such as:
- Unlawful Imprisonment
- Stalking / Aggravated Stalking
- Sexual Assault
- False Imprisonment
- Child Abuse
- Battery / Aggravated Battery
- Assault / Aggravated Assault
A domestic violence arrest can occur after only one person has made an accusation without any other witnesses or proof. Additionally, police may file domestic violence charges without the alleged victim seeking charges. The victim will also not have the option to drop charges. If you have been charged with this crime, it is very important to contact an experienced lawyer who is committed to representing your best interests.Jacksonville Domestic Violence Lawyer
If you have been charged with one of these kinds of offenses in Duval County you will want to immediately seek legal counsel. Roelke Law, P.A. fights to get charges reduced or dismissed for clients in such communities as Jacksonville Beach, St. Augustine, Orange Park, Fernandina Beach, and many other surrounding areas.
Bill Roelke is a knowledgeable domestic violence attorney who will make every effort to help you avoid the most serious penalties. Call Roelke Law, P.A. today for a free consultation at (904) 354-0333 about your alleged domestic violence crime.
Florida Domestic Violence Information Center
- What kinds of actions constitute this type of crime?
- How are these different offenses classified?
- What are the possible consequences if an alleged offender is convicted?
- Are cases thrown out when an alleged victim does not want to press charges?
- What defenses might be utilized in these types of cases?
- Where can I find more information about this area of law?
- Has there been any recent legal developments relating to this subject?
- What are some of the most commonly asked questions?
There are a variety of terms that may arise in these cases that have very specific meanings. The most commonly used terms are defined as follows:
Cyberstalking – Cyberstalking occurs when one person communicates with another through electronic forms of communications, such as e-mail for the sole purpose of harassing the other person. The victim must suffer some form of substantial emotional distress from the stalking.
Dating Violence – This type of violence can occur between two people who have been in a continuous romantic relationship or have been in this type of relationship in the past six months.
Domestic Violence Injunction – A domestic violence injunction is a court order that prevents an alleged domestic violence offender in a dating or family relationship from doing certain acts or requiring them to complete certain requirements. It is more commonly known as a restraining order or protective order.
Family or Household Member – Family or household members can include people who have a child together, spouses, ex-spouses, individuals related by blood or marriage, stepparents, grandparents or current or former roommates.
Protective Order Hearings – A protective order hearing is a court hearing where facts, witnesses and other evidence are presented to determine if a domestic violence injunction should be issued by the court.
A person who has been accused of committing one of these types of crimes in Duval County may be specifically charged with any of the following offenses:
Assault – Florida Statute § 784.011
Someone can be charged with this offense if they are accused of intentionally committing an act of violence or threaten violence against a family or household member who reasonably believes the violence will occur. A conviction for this offense can result in a misdemeanor of the second degree.
Aggravated Assault - Florida Statute § 784.021
If charged with this offense, the accused is alleged to have committed assault with a deadly weapon or with the intent to commit a felony against a family or household member. This offense is generally punishable as a felony of the third degree.
Battery - Florida Statute § 784.03
A person can be convicted of this offense if they intentionally touch a family or household member against their will or touch them with the intent to hurt them. A conviction for this offense can result in a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Aggravated Battery – Florida Statute § 784.045
Someone charged with this offense is accused of intentionally committing battery with a deadly weapon against a family or household member and cause serious bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement. If the offender allegedly commits a battery against a woman they knew or had reason to know was pregnant, they can be charged with this degree of battery. This offense is generally punishable as a felony of the second degree.
Felony Battery – Florida Statute § 784.04
A person can be charged with this offense if accused of committing battery against a family or household member that causes great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement. This offense is generally punishable as a felony of the third degree.
Domestic Battery by Strangulation - Florida Statute § 784.041(2)(a)
If charged with this offense, a defendant is accused of intentionally and knowingly preventing a family or household member from breathing against their will and cause serious bodily harm. A conviction for this offense can result in a felony of the third degree.
Stalking – Florida Statute § 784.048
A person is charged with this offense if accused of willfully and maliciously following, harassing or cyberstalking a family or household member on a repeated basis. A conviction for this offense can result in a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Aggravated Stalking - Florida Statute § 784.048(3)
Someone is charged with this offense if accused of stalking a family or household member and threatening the family or household member in a way that causes them to reasonably believe they are in danger of death or serious bodily injury. This offense is generally punishable as a felony of the third degree.
The possible punishments for a conviction vary depending on the type of violence, who the victim was, the age of the victim, whether a weapon was used in the commission of the offense, and whether the alleged offender has a previous criminal history. The general statutory penalties for misdemeanor and felony offenses, as defined in Florida Statute §§ 775.082 and 775.083, are as follows:
Misdemeanor of the Second Degree – Offenses in this degree can lead to a jail sentence up to 60 days and/or a fine not more than $500.
Misdemeanor of the First Degree – Offenses in this degree can result in jail sentence not more than one year and/or a fine up to $1,000.
Felony of the Third Degree – This degree of offense can result in a prison sentence not more than five years and/or a fine up to $5,000.
Felony of the Second Degree – Offenses in this degree can result in a prison sentence not more than 15 years and/or a fine up to $10,000.
Felony of the First Degree – This degree of crime can result in a prison sentence up to 30 years or life and/or a fine not more than $10,000.
A conviction for a crime in which the alleged offender had an intent to harm the victim can result in mandatory minimum jail sentence of five days. Additionally, an individual who pleads guilty or no contest to the domestic violence charges against them may be placed on probation for one year and be required to attend a Batterer Intervention Program (BIP) in Jacksonville.
Many of these types of cases stem from misunderstandings between family members. After tempers have cooled, alleged victims will often state that they do not have any desire to press charges against the alleged offenders.
However, this does not mean that the person who was arrested can simply assume that the domestic incident will simply be forgotten. Rather, prosecutors can still file charges even when alleged victims have changed their original statements or filed complaints.
The state attorney is extremely familiar with reluctant or recanting witnesses, and they often consider the lack of willingness of alleged victims to support charges against alleged offenders to be part of a cycle of violence.
In other cases, the alleged victim did not even call police. A neighbor or other family member may have dialed 911 and reported an incident. Police may decide to seek charges even if the victim does not wish to make any accusation.
Prosecutors may be more willing to accept plea agreements or a reduction in charges for alleged offenders when the alleged victims no longer wish to press charges, but this still requires the help of a seasoned Jacksonville criminal lawyer who has previously handled these types of cases.
In certain situations, defenses to these crimes may be available to help alleged offenders in Jacksonville avoid criminal prosecution or punishment. However, defenses do not apply in every situation, so it is important to contact a skilled attorney who can help identify if one of the following defenses may apply to your case.
Defense of Others – This defense may be applicable if you have been accused of domestic violence, but you engaged in physical violence with a family member to prevent them from harming another person or family member.
False Allegations – This defense may be applicable if your lawyer can show the family member who accused you of domestic violence was actually trying to gain sole custody of a child, receive a more favorable outcome in a divorce or some other reason to falsely accuse someone of domestic violence.
Lack of Intent – Some types of domestic violence require intent to cause some kind of harm to the alleged victim. If you did not have the intent or the alleged violence was the result of an accident, this defense may be applicable to your situation.
Self Defense – If the family or household member who accused you of domestic violence actually became physical first or somehow provoked the violence, self defense may have been applicable in your situation.
City of Jacksonville Domestic Violence Program — This website page provides information about the Intimate Violence Enhanced Services Team (INVEST). The INVEST Collaborative is comprised of a City of Jacksonville planning technician, Hubbard House advocates, and specially-trained and assigned Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO) officers who work in partnership with Hubbard House, JSO, and other criminal justice organizations and victim assistance agencies to identify and intervene in the potentially most lethal domestic violence cases. You can find more information about the Social Services Division on this website, including victim services, mental health services, and substance abuse services.
1809 Art Museum Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32207
Duval County Clerk of the Circuit and County Courts Domestic Violence Department — The Clerk of Court provides forms and staff to assist victims when filling out a petition for protection against domestic violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence. On this website, you can learn more about these forms of domestic violence, a Petition for Injunction, and local self-help centers. There also answers to several frequently asked questions.
Duval County Courthouse
501 West Adams Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence – The goal of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) is to end violence by promoting public awareness, developing and improving policies and supporting domestic violence centers and shelter in Florida. On this website, you can find FCADV news, local center services, and information about a variety of programs. There is also information relating to laws and legislation, FCADV position papers, and videos.
Florida Statutes Online – This link is to assault and battery offenses listed under Chapter 784 of the Florida Statutes, including several domestic violence crimes. You can find more information about domestic assault, domestic battery, and domestic battery by strangulation as well as links to the penalties convictions relating to these offenses.
Florida Department of Children and Families – The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is a state governmental agency that aims to improve the lives of individuals and families by protecting the vulnerable, promoting strong and self-sufficient families and advancing person recover. On this website, you can find fact sheets, publications, forms, and links to several different services. There is also news, press releases, and information on upcoming events.
An Abuse, Rape, Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection – As a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating family and relationship violence, sexual violence and child abuse, AARDVARC.org, Inc. maintains this website to provide resources, guidance, and support to those involved in domestic violence. The Florida page of this website contains such information about recognizing abuse as warning signs, symptoms, relationship quizzes, and abuser tactics. You can also find aspects of abuse, reactions to abuse, and multiple Florida-specific resources.
Men Against Violence Against Women — A volunteer-based organization founded in 2000, Men Against Violence Against Women (MAVAW) works in partnership with as an official auxiliary organization of Hubbard House, the nonprofit domestic violence shelter in Jacksonville that was the first such shelter in the state of Florida. The organization’s mission is “To empower men to end all forms of violence against women by educating ourselves and the community, raising awareness and creating social change.” MAVAW seeks opportunities to provide education and dialogue for honest, open communication, including resources for men and women to be able to initiate meaningful conversation with friends, peers, co-workers, and family. You can learn more about the organization, what they do, and why they do it on this website.
- Senate Bill Would Criminalize Tracking Person’s Whereabouts — State Senator Dorothy Hukill is sponsoring a bill that would make it illegal for any person to knowingly install a tracking device or application on another person’s property without their consent. Senate Bill 282 was originally filed in January and has been unanimously approved by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and Senate Rules Committee. It is supported by domestic violence advocates and would make it a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine for any violation. The bill would provide exceptions for law enforcement officer in criminal investigations, parents or legal guardians installing tracking devices or applications on the property of minor children, caregivers of elderly people or disabled adults, and people acting in good faith on behalf of business entities for legitimate business purposes.
- House Bill Increases Penalties for Repeat Domestic Violence Offenders — A bill introduced by Representative Jose Rodriguez an co-sponsored by Representative Lori Berman would provide enhanced penalties for third or subsequent violations of protective orders in Florida. House Bill 443 was originally filed in January and has been unanimously approved by the House Judiciary Committee, House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, and House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. While a third violation of an injunction for protection against specified acts of violence or foreign protection order is currently a first-degree misdemeanor, this bill would make such a violation by an alleged offender with two or more prior convictions a third-degree felony.
Who is considered a family or household member in Florida?
Family or household member means 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. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.
What is an injunction?
Injunctions are the legal name in Florida for the legal documents commonly referred to as restaining orders. There are four types of injunctions in Florida: Injunctions for Protection Against Domestic Violence, Injunctions for Protection Against Repeat Violence, Injunctions for Protection Against Dating Violence, and Injunctions for Protection Against Sexual Violence. These four court orders are civil proceedings that can prohibit the alleged offenders from contacting the alleged victims.
Could a conviction count as one of the “three strikes” on my record?
Yes, a domestic violence conviction is considered a violent felony offense that would be counted against an alleged offender, and he or she could be considered a habitual violent felony offender, three-time violent felony offender, or violent career criminal, depending on his or her specific charges and criminal history.
How does the Batterer Intervention Program work?
The BIP lasts a minimum of 26 weeks and requires the alleged offender to attend classes and group counseling sessions as well as complete home assignments. The alleged offender is responsible for paying for these weekly sessions as well as the initial Intervention Assessment. Failure to attend classes or complete assignments can result in an alleged offender being removed from the program and possibly facing additional criminal penalties.
If the alleged victim has told me that he or she is willing to appear in court and ask the judge no to press charges against me, why do I need to hire a lawyer?
Because many people want to err on the side of caution, judges and juries instinctively do what they feel is necessary to protect alleged victims. This can mean the imposition of enormous restrictions on the rights of alleged offenders—even when the accusations are exaggerated or completely false. A Jacksonville criminal attorney helps an alleged offender be presented in the most favorable light while exposing the errors in erroneous claims.
Were you recently arrested for allegedly committing one of these types of crimes? Roelke Law, P.A. aggressively defends clients throughout Duval County and surrounding counties in Florida, including St. John’s County, Nassau County, and Clay County.
Bill Roelke is an extremely accomplished Jacksonville domestic violence attorney who will make every effort to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your particular situation. Contact our firm right now at (904) 354-0333 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.