Domestic violence is a crime that inspires powerful, angry feelings. Even allegations have the ability to destroy your life, which is why you should never face these charges without experienced and aggressive legal representation from a Tampa criminal defense lawyer.
Florida law defines domestic violence as any criminal offense(s) committed against a family or household member that results in physical injury or death. Crimes that fall within this overall category include but are not limited to:
- Assault and/or battery
- Sexual assault and/or sexual battery
Family and household members include current or former spouses and any person related to you by blood or marriage. In most cases, you must either be living with the person or have lived with them in the past. There is an exception for people who have a child in common.
Domestic Violence Penalties in Florida
Crimes arising from domestic violence are aggressively prosecuted across the state, and both penalties and long-term consequences can be far beyond what you’d experience with conventional assault or battery charges.
For example, if you are found guilty of a domestic violence offense, you must serve a least one year of probation and attend a 26-week batterer’s intervention program. Other penalties include:
- A minimum of ten days in a county jail for an offense involving intentional infliction of bodily harm, unless you receive a non-suspended sentence in a state correctional facility.
- Ineligibility for a record sealing or expungement, regardless of whether adjudication was withheld. In other words, you will have a lifetime criminal record for a domestic violence offense- no exceptions.
- Imposition of a No Contact Order that prohibits you from having direct or indirect contact with the alleged victim for the duration of your case or until the court changes or lifts the order.
- 12 months of probation and community service hours.
- Loss of certain civil liberties, such as concealed carry rights.
These penalties can change your life forever, so if you have been arrested for a domestic violence crime or believe you are about to be, retain a Tampa domestic violence defense lawyer right away.
Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges
A Tampa domestic violence defense attorney will carefully review your case and look for acceptable defense situations, such as:
- Self-defense: You were protecting yourself when they tried to attack you.
- Defense of others: You were protecting someone else from the alleged victim’s attack.
- Defense of personal property: The person trespassed on your property or tried to damage it.
- Lack of intent to cause injury: For example, you and the alleged victim were wrestling or playing around when you accidentally injured them.
A valid defense may also exist if the person has no injuries or their allegations are not corroborated by the evidence.
Call a Tampa Domestic Violence Lawyer Now
Domestic violence has a powerful social stigma that causes the unfair presumption of guilty until proven innocent. If you are involved in a contentious divorce, breakup, or child custody dispute, your ex could try to gain an advantage by exaggerating or fabricating an incident. To prevent a malicious or inaccurate accusation from ruining your life, call (813) 223-4343 to reach our Tampa domestic violence attorney at Sulte Law Firm.
What if the alleged victim doesn’t want to press charges?
Domestic violence is comparatively unique in that the state attorney doesn’t need the permission of the alleged victim to file charges against you. In fact, authorities in Florida can be extremely aggressive when it comes to domestic violence cases and prosecutors don’t have to rely on victim testimony to secure a conviction. Instead, they may use other evidence, such as injury photos or statements made voluntarily to the police.
Prosecutorial discretion can lead to an innocent person being charged with domestic violence and left with a criminal record that harms their future. Let a Tampa domestic violence attorney ensure that you are treated fairly.
What Should You Do if You are Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence?
Call a lawyer immediately. Whatever you do, DO NOT make a statement to the police without getting legal counsel first.
If you speak to law enforcement without an attorney present, you are effectively waiving your Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination as well as your right to counsel. A criminal defense attorney will protect your case by preventing you from accidental self-incrimination and, if you are arrested, ensure that your rights are protected for the duration of your case. Your lawyer has your best interests in mind- the police do not.
How Can a Tampa Domestic Violence Lawyer Help?
An experienced criminal defense attorney will review the evidence against you and make sure that you’re protected from self-incrimination and other strategies that the police and prosecutors may use to weaken your case.
Your entire future is at stake: a conviction can cause you to lose your job, weaken your standing in any family law proceedings, and even have serious immigration consequences if you are a newcomer to the United States. Hiring a Tampa domestic violence lawyer like Attorney Ryan Sulte increases your chances of a successful outcome.