In the State of Florida, Battery is defined by "actually and intentionally striking another person against their will; OR intentionally causing bodily harm to another person".
Domestic battery is when it involves a spouse, former spouse, relative, people who live together, or formally lived together, as well as people with children together.
In Florida, the 1st Domestic Battery charge is a misdemeanor. The 2nd, and subsequent Battery charges (of any kind, domestic or not) is a felony and is frequently charged that way.
WHAT IF THE VICTIM DOES NOT WANT TO PRESS CHARGES?
These cases carry the stiffest of misdemeanor penalties for the obvious reasons. The biggest misconception in the these cases is that if the victim asks the state to drop the charge, they automatically will. This is rarely true. In cases where the State has a 9-1-1 call or there is any victim injury, a prosecutor is not going to just drop the case because the victim requests that. The state's job is to protect the victim, and that doesn't always mean dropping the charges just because the victim requests it.
With that said, just because you may have been arrested for this charge, it does not mean you will be convicted. Many things such as prior record (the defendant and the victims), witnesses, injuries, overall strength of the case, come into play. Most prosecutors offices have victim's advocates who deal with victims.
Our attorney are skilled in the handling of these types of cases.
DID YOU RECEIVE A NO CONTACT ORDER?
Sometimes in these cases, you are living with your spouse, get into a fight, get arrested, and then the Judge tells you that you are to have 'no contact' at all with the victim during the case (which could last for months). Basically, you become kicked out of your own house and any contact would violate the pre-trial release order handed down by the Judge. One of the first things we do as your attorney is attempt to get that changed to a 'no violent contact' so you are allowed back in your home. Even in cases where the people do not live together, it is often necessary that they have contact (i.e. children, bills, etc.) so a no contact order is often devastating. Contacting an attorney immediately and asking questions about this contact issue is vitally important.
WHAT DOES THE LAWYER DO IN THESE CASES?
Once retained, we will immediately get a copy of the police report. Usually from this report, we will be able to determine the strength of the State's case. These cases are often tough to prove if nobody was injured and there were no witnesses. Unfortunately, many times in these cases, the 'victim' just happens to be the person who called the police first. Also, each State Attorney's Office usually has its own way of dealing with these cases. We will explain to you how your specific circuit handles these cases. We have handled many of these cases both as prosecutors and defense attorneys.
Domestic violence cases hve very specific penalties attached to them. Often, the State will seek to send you to a Batterers Intervention type class which often lasts up to 6 months. This is usually a condition of a 9-12 month probation.
It goes without saying that we will always attempt to get the case dropped entirely. If this isn't possible, we do our best to get you into a diversion program where this can stay off your record.
Another issue in Domestic Violence Battery cases is the defendants record. If someone pleads guilty or no contest to a domestic violence battery charge, that person is automatically ineligible to have his or her record sealed or expunged. This is something that most people that get charged with this crime are not aware of and another reason to contact us if you or your loved one is arrested for Domestic Violence Battery.