Domestic Violence in Jacksonville, FL
Domestic violence allegations are always complicated matters, both legally and factually. Florida law defines these crimes as any crime of violence when the alleged perpetrator and alleged victim share one of a specific type of relationships. Florida Statutes § 741.28 defines these types of relationships as “spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.” The law further explains that the two family members must be living together or have in the past unless they have a child together. This definition is complicated before even litigating the specific behavior. It is important to contact a criminal defense attorney who will fight for your rights. These situations are often heavily dependent on eyewitness testimony and frequently involve alcohol use. There are often defenses and strategies which require a domestic violence lawyer with decades of experience to identify. The strategy to address a case depends largely on the individual facts, but also the crime which has been charged.
Common Domestic Violence Crimes
Assault is defined in Florida Statutes § 784.011 as an intentional: act or threat of violence to another. There also must be a reason that the victim believes such an act is imminent. A threat to kick another person, no matter how sincere is not assault if coming from a person who does not have use of their legs. Alternatively, a person without such a disability could find themselves charged with assault. Assault is a misdemeanor of the second degree.
- Aggravated assault
Aggravated assault is identical to assault but elevates the penalties when a deadly weapon is used or there is intent to commit a felony. involves a deadly weapon, or an intent to commit a felony, according to Florida Statutes § 784.021. Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony.
Battery is defined in Florida Statutes § 784.03 as actually and intentionally: touching a person against their will or causing harm to them. A first conviction is a first-degree misdemeanor. A subsequent conviction can be charged as a third-degree felony however.
- Felony Battery
Separate from the felony enhancer for a second or later battery, Florida law also has felony battery, defined in Florida Statutes § 784.041 as a battery that causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement. If there is a domestic relationship, a person can also be charged with felony battery by “imped[ing] the normal breathing or circulation . . . so as to create a risk of or cause great bodily harm by applying pressure on the throat or neck of the other person or by blocking the nose or mouth.” These are charged as third-degree felonies, even on a first offense.
- Aggravated battery
Florida Statutes § 784.045 creates a third type of battery, when an individual commits battery with a deadly weapon and causes great bodily harm intentionally and knowingly. Battery upon a pregnant woman, when knowledge of the pregnancy was or should have been known, is also Aggravated Battery. Both are second-degree felonies.
- False Imprisonment
False imprisonment is defined by Florida Statutes § 787.02. It occurs when a person restrains another person against their will through use of force, threat, secret, abduction, imprisonment, or restraint. False imprisonment is a first-degree felony.
- Stalking and Cyberstalking
These offenses, according to Florida Statutes § 784.048 are the as the willful, malicious repeated following, harassing, or cyberstalking of another without their consent. If charged as cyberstalking it does require electronic communication directed at the victim or an attempt to access that person’s online accounts without permission. This is a first-degree misdemeanor.
Domestic Violence Protection Orders
Often protection orders are referred to as “restraining orders.” These two terms are essentially synonymous in Florida. A victim of domestic violence may ask for an injunctive order to be put into place to prevent further harm. These orders often require the alleged perpetrator to: vacate the shared home, cease all physical contact, not attempt any electronic communication, to stay away from any areas the victim is likely to be (such as work or school), or any other restrictions deemed necessary. In Jacksonville, this would be accomplished through the Duval County Clerk of Courts. If it highly recommended to speak to a domestic violence attorney who is qualified to assist you through the process if you are in need of protection.
If the perpetrator were to violate a protection order, they can be charged with violation of an injunction for protection against domestic violence under Florida Statutes § 741.31.
When deciding whether an injunction is appropriate, the civil court will look at a variety of factors, such as:
- Past relations between the two people
- Attempts to harm you or other family members
- Threats to kidnap children or use weapons
- Intentional injury of a pet
- Physical intervention when attempts to call the police or leave the home are made
- Criminal history of violence
- Previous protection orders
- Destruction of property
- Any other behavior leading a person to believe they are in danger of domestic violence in the near future
These hearings must be scheduled very quickly, and the perpetrator does not need to be present for an injunction to enter.
Police have a directive when contacting citizens where potential domestic violence has taken place. A determination on who the primary aggressor is must be made first. That person is then supposed to be arrested, unless there is true dual violence between the two. This often leads to arrests of the “primary aggressor” as determined by the officer on scene, even when the case has faults in the provability or the police work that went into it. This process has created a lot of domestic violence cases in Florida which likely never should have been filed in the first place. It is important to contact a domestic violence attorney if you have been arrested for one of these crimes, someone who will fight for your rights and the best possible result. The penalties for domestic violence cases can unfortunately be life-altering.
Penalties for Domestic Violence in Florida
Any domestic violence conviction carries minimum penalties. A first conviction carries a minimum of 10 days in jail, a second conviction carries a minimum of 15 days, and a third or subsequent conviction carries a minimum of 20 days. If a child who is under the age of sixteen witnessed the original incident, the minimum jail time increases to 15, 20 or 30, depending on the amount of prior convictions, if any.
These minimum penalties exist, but the overall penalty is based on the underlying crime:
- Second-Degree Misdemeanor– Up to 60 days of jail and a fine of up to $500.
- First-Degree Misdemeanor – Up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Third-Degree Felony – A prison sentence of up to 5 years and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Second-Degree Felony – A prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
- First-Degree Felony – A prison sentence of up to 30 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Convictions in domestic violence cases can also require lengthy probationary sentences, including domestic violence treatment, substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, community service, relinquishment of firearms, and any other reasonable restriction based on the circumstances. Fortunately, there are defenses available in domestic violence cases.
- Factual Challenge – invoked when there was another perpetrator, or the actual incident did not occur the way the government believes it does.
- False Allegations – Similar to a factual challenge, the incident did not occur the way it was reported. This defense is invoked when the reporting party fabricated the incident, and a substantial portion is eroding that credibility of the dishonest party.
- Intent – Crimes require a certain state of mind, or mens rea. If a crime requires an action to have been performed voluntarily, then fighting that element can result in a not guilty verdict.
- Defense of self or others – Force is allowed when defending yourself or others from impending harm, often times this defense arises in the context of domestic violence cases.
Jacksonville Defense Attorney
Lee Lockett and the members of the legal team at Lockett law serve Duval county and the surrounding areas in all areas of criminal defense. Lee Lockett has decades of experience as a public defender, as a prosecutor, and as the head of a firm dedicated to 100% litigation work. The defense team at Lockett law have the knowledge and the dedication to fight for your rights and the best possible outcome in your case. Call a Jacksonville Domestic Violence attorney today at (904) 858-9818 or connect with our team in the chat window on the bottom right of your screen to have an open and free consultation today.
Jacksonville Domestic Violence Resources
If you or someone you care about has been the victim of Domestic Violence, there are resources available to help: