As you can imagine, police, prosecutors, judges and others in Florida's governmental agencies do not take allegations of domestic violence lightly. In fact, the legislature wrote the state's laws to protect and defend an alleged victim as much as possible. The consequences of a conviction for domestic violence could affect you, and follow you, for the rest of your life.
Your first indication that you could face criminal charges for domestic abuse could be the receipt of a protective order. You may not have considered your last interaction with the individual who sought the PO as violent. That is the tricky part of domestic violence accusations; physical contact doesn't have to take place. Your words or actions need only intimidate the other party into believing you capable of causing harm.
What happens once you receive the PO?
Unless you share a child with the person accusing you of domestic abuse, you must live together in order for the other party to receive a PO against you. Once it is, you may be subject to a number of requirements, such as the following:
- If you have children with the alleged victim, the court could keep you from seeing them until settling the matter.
- It may not be permissible for you to return to the home.
- You may have to pay temporary child and spousal support.
- If you own guns and ammunition, the court might order you to surrender them.
At this point, you will not have the chance to tell your side of the story. Remember, the law favors the alleged victim. If the PO leads to criminal charges, you will get the chance to defend yourself and challenge the charges. If this is the first time someone has accused you of domestic violence and the state has a solid case, you may be able to participate in the Domestic Violence Diversion Program.
If you successfully complete the 27-week program, the court dismisses the charges against you. You could get back to your life without a conviction following you for the rest of your life. However, your case could result from the other party's desire to gain some unfair advantage against you. This often happens when couples are in the midst of custody battles or contentious divorces. In any case, it would be in your best interests to enlist some help as you work through this difficult time in your life.