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What is Domestic Violence Battery in Florida?

A man covering his eyes with handcuffed hands after being arrested on domestic violence charges.

Being convicted of DV can have lasting consequences.

Domestic violence battery is a serious offense with specific legal definitions and consequences. Florida law defines it as any intentional and unwanted touching or striking of another person or intentionally causing bodily harm when the victim is a “family or household member.” This definition is broad and includes various forms of physical interaction that are without the victim's consent.

Who qualifies as family or household members under Florida law?

Section 741.28 of Florida Statutes defense family or household members as:

  • Spouses and ex-spouses.
  • Blood relatives or relatives by marriage.
  • Individuals who live together or have lived together as a family.
  • Individuals who have a child in common, regardless of whether they're married.

The statute mandates that these members must be currently or have previously lived together in the same dwelling, except for those who have a child in common.

What are the penalties for Domestic Violence Battery in Florida?

Domestic Violence Battery in Florida is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. Conviction can lead to up to one year in jail or 12 months probation, along with a fine of $1,000. Due to its domestic nature, additional mandatory penalties under Chapter 741, Florida Statutes, include:

  • Completion of a 26-week Batterer’s Intervention Program.
  • Community service hours.
  • Loss of certain civil liberties.
  • Injunction or ‘no contact’ orders.

What should I do if I'm facing domestic violence battery charges?

Despite its seriousness, domestic violence battery is considered one of the most defendable charges. Common defenses include:

  • Disputing the facts of the incident.
  • Lack of injuries.
  • Absence of corroborating evidence.
  • Claims of self-defense or defense of others.
  • Consensual confrontation or mutual combat.

Effective strategies in addressing domestic battery charges can be critical in the outcome of your case. These strategies often involve early and proactive legal representation. This often includes:

  • Early negotiation and contacting the victim: Early negotiation with the prosecution and contacting the victim can help improve the outcome of your case. An attorney can negotiate on your behalf, present mitigating factors, and even interact with the victim regarding their stance on the prosecution.
  • Modifying or lifting a 'no contact' order: This requires filing a Motion to Modify Conditions of Release, which signals that the alleged victim may not support further prosecution.
  • Counseling: Voluntarily enrolling in counseling or other relevant programs can positively influence the prosecutor's perception and open up avenues for non-criminal resolution.

Can my domestic battery charge be expunged in Florida?

If you were convicted of domestic violence battery, you can't expunge that charge from your record in Florida. However, if the charges were dropped or dismissed, or if you were found not guilty, you may be eligible for expungement.

In some cases, first-time offenders may be eligible for pretrial diversion programs. Successful completion of such a program can lead to the charges being dropped, which may then make expungement possible.

There is typically a waiting period before you can apply for expungement, starting from the date your case was resolved. Expungement involves filing a petition with the court. Before beginning this process, it's best to speak to an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the specific requirements and procedures.

Why get the help of a Florida criminal defense attorney?

The laws surrounding domestic violence battery in Florida are complex. Having a strong legal advocate on your side is key to fighting or reducing the charges. Attorney Thomas C. Grajek can provide legal guidance and representation, from early intervention strategies to trial readiness.

Attorney Grejek has more than 25 years of experience fighting for the rights of Floridians facing criminal charges. He'll work tirelessly to help you develop a strong legal defense. To find out how he can help you, contact him online for a free consultation. You can also call any of his law offices in Lakeland, Lutz, or Tampa.

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