Like other states, Florida takes acts of domestic violence seriously. In fact, the state tends to favor victims when it comes to allegations, which leaves those accused with an uphill battle to defend themselves. Unfortunately, some people use allegations of domestic violence in an attempt to gain some sort of advantage in divorce or child custody proceedings. This diminishes the plight of real victims and puts innocent people under scrutiny without cause.
Florida's domestic violence laws fall into a different category than other assault and battery charges. Below are the basics of these charges, along with the potential penalties you could face if someone lodges allegations against you.
How does Florida define domestic violence?
Violence committed against members of your household or family such as the following would fall under domestic violence:
- Relative related by marriage or blood
- Boyfriend or girlfriend
- Former boyfriend or girlfriend
In addition, if you are cohabitating, or have cohabitated with someone in the past, the law also covers you and your current or former partner. Simply saying that someone is accused of domestic violence is misleading because a myriad of offenses are included under that umbrella, including the following:
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated stalking
- Aggravated battery
Other offenses may be included as well depending on the circumstances. In fact, the charges you could face depend on the alleged incident. For instance, if someone accuses you of threatening violence, you face a domestic assault charge. If you face accusations of actually touching or injuring someone, you could face a domestic battery charge.
The penalties depend on the circumstances
Just as the charges you could face depend on the circumstances, so do the potential penalties. For instance, an assault or battery charge may be a misdemeanor. However, if prosecutors allege aggravating factors, then you could face a felony charge. If convicted, you could spend days or months in jail for a misdemeanor, or you could spend years in prison for a felony. At the very least, a conviction for domestic violence comes with a mandatory, minimum sentence of five days in jail.
With the breadth of penalties connected to this particular class of offenses, it would be a good idea to consult with an attorney as soon as you know that you face suspicion, accusations or arrest for any offense related to domestic violence. You have a right to challenge any charges filed against you, and considering what's at stake, including the fact that such a charge may remain on your record forever, you may want to aggressively fight such charges.