Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Lawyer
Charged with Domestic Abuse? Call Us 24/7.
According to Florida Statute § 741.28, domestic violence can be classified as physical or emotional abuse between parties involved in a domestic relationship (which includes anyone involved in a family or "household" relationship). Domestic violence most commonly occurs between spouses, couples who cohabitate, and family members, and can include any of the following behaviors or actions:
It is important to remember that domestic violence does not always include physical abuse.
The following actions can also be examples of domestic abuse:
- Destroying the victim’s property
- Stalking the victim in person, on the internet, or using tracking devices
- Threatening to hurt or kill the victim’s loved ones, friends, or pets
- Pressuring the victim to have sex when they don’t want to
- Embarrassing or shaming the victim
- Preventing the victim from making their own decisions
- Keeping or discouraging the victim from seeing family members or friends
All of these actions can be prosecuted under the law as either a misdemeanor or felony offense. With domestic violence offenses, there are many factors that can result in elevated charges and penalties, including serious injury, injuries to minors, sexual assaults, and prior convictions. If these elements are involved in your case, the need for experienced legal representation becomes crucially important.
Contact our Fort Lauderdale domestic violence lawyers as soon as possible for a FREE case evaluation. Time can make the difference in your case.
Domestic Violence Penalties in Broward County
Florida enforces strict penalties when it comes to domestic violence. Although cases will always vary based on the charge involved and the unique facts and circumstances at play, the following penalties are commonly associated with domestic violence convictions:
- Imprisonment - Imprisonment is a common penalty in these cases. Even in misdemeanor cases, guilty parties could face up to one year in jail. Additionally, Florida imposes a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 5 days in cases where domestic violence resulted in an injury to the victim.
- Enhancements - Prosecutors look closely at the circumstances of an alleged crime and the background of the defendant in order to impose enhancements that can elevate charges and penalties. For example, if you have a previous conviction for domestic violence or simple, aggravated, or felony battery, new domestic violence charges may be treated as felonies.
- Court-ordered classes - As part of sentencing, convicted individuals are often required to complete anger management / domestic violence courses at their own expense.
- Firearms restrictions - Under federal law, individuals who have been convicted of domestic violence are prohibited from owning, using, or possessing a firearm
Aside from these penalties, hefty fines, and court-ordered community service, domestic violence convictions can create many other consequences, including barriers to gainful employment.
Knowing that the stakes are high, our attorneys always work toward securing the best outcome possible, whether that means a case dismissal or a reduction of charges and penalties.
Common Legal Defenses for Domestic Violence Charges
As we mentioned above, facing domestic violence charges can have a significant negative impact on your life. Yet, an experienced attorney can review your case and determine all potential defenses to either reduce the charges you face in a plea deal or get your entire case dismissed.
The following are the most common legal defenses for domestic violence charges:
- False allegations – It is not uncommon for alleged victims to make false accusations out of spite. This typically occurs in divorce and child custody cases. Your lawyer may be able to find holes and weaknesses in the accuser’s story in comparison to witness accounts and the police report.
- Self-defense – In order to protect themselves and/or their children, a defendant could claim they were acting in self-defense after perceiving an imminent threat and wasn’t the original aggressor. Your attorney can check the police report to see if the alleged victim admitted to using violence and the reason for doing so, as well as look for inconsistencies.
- Wrong suspect – A defendant may claim that the alleged aggressor was another person. Your lawyer may present a valid alibi on your behalf or evidence that you were nowhere near the scene of the crime.
- Insufficient evidence – A defendant may claim there is not enough proof of the allegations. Without any evidence of domestic violence, state prosecutors cannot bring criminal charges.
- It was an accident – Although the defendant doesn’t deny the injuries sustained by the victim, they may claim that the act was unintentional. Your lawyer can confirm if your claim is consistent with what transpired.
Can Domestic Violence Victims Drop the Charges?
Many of these disputes occur in the heat of the moment, which is why both parties may experience instant regret as soon as law enforcement arrives on the scene. Therefore, many alleged victims find themselves wondering if they can simply drop the charges against the alleged aggressor.
Unfortunately, criminal charges are brought by state prosecutors. So, even if the victim called the police to make an arrest, that doesn’t mean he or she is the one bringing charges against the accused.
Since victims are often emotionally—and financially—tied to their abusers, it's easy to explain away bad behavior once they understand the gravity of the situation. Since alleged abusers may also threaten or pressure a victim to reverse the charges, no one but the state has the power to drop the charges.
However, there are also many situations where law enforcement makes errors during the investigation and both parties want to move past the incident and obtain counseling and rehabilitation. The victim’s lack of power to dismiss charges can make it difficult not to involve the courts.
If a victim does want to drop the charges, they will need to hire an attorney. Keep in mind, their lawyer cannot be the same one as the defendant. With the help of a lawyer, the prosecution may decide to reduce the charges originally brought by offering a favorable plea agreement for a more lenient sentence. On the other hand, dismissing the case altogether rarely happens.
If a victim wishes to recant his/her original statements, it is important to understand that doing so could lead to charges for falsifying information to the police and the court. A lawyer can determine which is the best way to replace a negative statement with a positive one.
Lastly, a victim’s psychiatric assessment can be used as evidence in court. So, he/she must demonstrate that the incident didn’t negatively impact the victim’s emotional stability.
Benefits of Having a Former Prosecutor on Your Side
Domestic violence has become a hot button issue across Florida and the entire country. Today, the statistics, social, and economic impact of domestic violence are well known, and they motivate prosecutors to gain convictions and impose tough penalties. As former state prosecutors, Attorneys John Hager and Brett Schwartz know the tactics prosecutors use and leverage this insider information when defending our clients. You have the edge when you have former prosecutors on your side.
Let Us Review Your Case for Free
Hager & Schwartz, P.A. is passionate about protecting the rights of clients who have been thrown into the criminal justice system, including those facing all types of domestic violence allegations. Because time is an important factor, we encourage you to reach to our firm as soon as possible.
Contact us at (954) 840-8713 for a FREE consultation with a Fort Lauderdale domestic violence attorney. We are available to take your call 24/7.