You had a bad day at work, the traffic was heavy, you have a headache and you want to crawl under a rock. Your attempt to sneak by your family into your cave fails, and you are jumped on by an energetic puppy and squealing children. Your spouse insists that you cook dinner, and that is the last straw. You pick up a dish and throw it at the wall, and words you regret come out of your mouth. The next thing you know the police are ringing the bell. Your spouse tells them that she is fearing for her life because you threatened her. The handcuffs go on and you are taken to the police station. This is how a bad night can turn into a criminal charge, but with a smart defense it does not have to ruin your life.
Domestic Violence Laws in Florida
Florida law defines domestic violence as virtually any criminal offense committed by a household or family member, against another household or family member. The penalties are stiff. If you are convicted of a domestic violence offense that involves the intentional infliction of bodily harm, there are still penalties. Convictions for any type of domestic violence carry a minimum of one year of probation, and in most cases, also require attendance in a 26 week domestic violence program. Other penalties include loss of the right to carry a concealed weapon and community service hours. Under Florida law, a person that is convicted or pleads to a domestic violence charge, is not eligible for having his or her record sealed or expunged and may lose their professional license.
Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges in Florida
Due to the serious implications of accepting a plea bargain when charged with domestic violence in Florida, you should discuss all your possible defenses with an experienced criminal defense attorney before accepting a plea offer. It is important to know that there are many defenses at your disposal when you've been charged with domestic abuse. The prosecutors and judges want to protect victims, but they're also aware that heated emotions can sometimes result in false charges. Defenses to domestic violence charges include:
No evidence of injuries.
Evidence that the accuser was being vindictive.
Defense of others, including children.
Defense of property.
Stand Your Ground
Strategies for getting Domestic Abuse Charges dropped
The first strategy will always be negotiation. Your attorney should contact the prosecution as soon as possible and to discuss dropping or reducing the charges. If there is no physical evidence of bodily harm and no prior charges, the prosecution may decide not to move forward with domestic violence charges, if offered a convincing explanation of your innocence. It is often possible to convince your accuser to drop the charges in exchange for agreeing to attend counseling or substance abuse rehabilitation. Even if there is a no contact order, your attorney can speak to your spouse to discuss dropping the charges. It's important to note that it's the prosecution's decision whether the charges will be brought, but the victim changing their mind is usually persuasive.
Pretrial motions in Domestic Violence cases
There are several different types of motions to bring prior to trial, either asking the judge to dismiss the charges or pointing out weaknesses in the case that might encourage the prosecution to drop or reduce the case A stand your ground motion requests prosecutorial immunity based on self-defense. Motions in Limine and Motions to suppress evidence can be used to point out evidentiary and factual flaws in the prosecution's case, sometimes prompting the prosecution to drop the charges.
Preparing the Case for Trial
Due to the permanent criminal records that result from pleas in domestic violence cases, many of these cases proceed towards trial. That does not mean it's too late to get the charges dropped. If you can show that you're a cooperative witness that the jury would find sympathetic, combined with trial readiness in the form of overwhelming evidence to prove your defense, the prosecution may change its mind about proceeding to trial.
Being charged with any crime is life changing and a domestic violence charge is no exception. If you have been charged with a domestic violence case in Volusia County, contact me today to discuss your case. The sooner that you get an experienced attorney working on your case, oftentimes the better the outcome is. I am available anytime, day or night, to speak with you.