Relationships are hard. Due to the emotional connection between husband and wife, parent and child, brother and sister, and other relatives, feelings run deeper than the norm during an argument. Occasionally, these arguments escalate from a verbal fight to a physical one; in other instances, false accusations arise from emotionally injured kin.
The intensification of family disputes can lead to a Domestic Battery charge, which can later snowball into other subsidiary charges. Read on to learn more about what our Lake Worth criminal defense law firm can do to help you with Domestic-Related charges.
Domestic disputes are both emotionally and legally troubling. From the legal perspective, a domestic violence allegation doesn’t necessarily stop at a misdemeanor Domestic Battery charge; it can sometimes rise to the level of a felony, or branch out to other related charges, such as Violation of Injunction, Stalking, Harassment, or Violation of No Contact Order. Because the domestic violence umbrella encompasses so many different charges, laws, and potentially life-altering consequences, a defendant facing a domestic charge should get informed without delay.
Why should you hire an attorney in Lake Worth for domestic-related charges?
An experienced domestic violence attorney is the fountain of knowledge you need for your case. Domestic-related charges are handled differently than regular criminal accusations – from assignment to its own division (Domestic Violence Trial Division), to more stringent no-contact orders. A criminal defense attorney with specialized knowledge in Domestic Violence allegations can help you navigate the intricacies of your case, increasing your chances of a positive outcome through intensive review of the evidence, tactical procedural moves, strategic negotiations with the prosecution, intense litigation and – most importantly – detailed orientation and preparation for the client.
How can an Attorney Help with Domestic-Related Charges?
A domestic violence defense attorney in Lake Worth can put you at ease from the very beginning of the representation. The attorney will explain the judicial process, ensuring you understand all of the court’s orders regarding court appearances, no-contact with certain family members, and any other restrictions. In certain cases, a domestic violence attorney can waive your presence in court to protect you from the stress of litigation and missing work. Upon hiring an experienced domestic violence lawyer, you receive the benefit of information, protection, and preparation.
Naturally, a domestic violence criminal defense attorney will know the legal and procedural steps to take in your case to give you the advantage; this may include pre-trial motions, depositions, subpoenas, case resets, and a demand for speedy trial. A local domestic violence attorney has the added knowledge of courtroom personalities, a useful tool in determining the method of approaching judges and prosecutors for optimal interaction. The combination of legal and practical knowledge is a huge asset toward your defense.
What you Should do if you get Charged with a Domestic-Related Charge in Florida
If you have been accused of a domestic-related charge in Palm Beach, remain silent, get away from the accuser, and contact an experienced domestic violence attorney immediately. As most domestic-related charges begin with a physical arrest, you will likely need an attorney within 24-hours to attend First Appearance (probable cause and bond hearing) on your behalf. Keep in mind that most domestic violence cases in Palm Beach County result in a “no-bond hold” of the accused until the defendant appears before a judge; in other words, you will not be released until after your First Appearance hearing – even for a misdemeanor domestic violence case. An attorney at this early stage of your case is critical to ensuring appropriate bond conditions, maintaining your innocence, preserving evidence, and getting ahead of the prosecution with respect to information-gathering.
What you Need to Know About Domestic-Related Charges in Palm Beach
Domestic violence cases in Palm Beach and Martin counties are taken very seriously by police officers, the prosecution, and the Court. If law enforcement is dispatched to a domestic-related incident, someone is likely to go to jail (even on weak facts); to avoid potential escalation of an incident, the investigating officer will have to make a judgment call on the spot as to who they consider the “primary aggressor.” The officer’s opinion on scene – often with limited information – is not necessarily the correct one. After the arrest, the defendant must wait in jail for 24-48 hours until he or she appears before the First Appearance judge to determine bond and probable cause. After First Appearance, the accused must endure a series of pre-trial hearings, beginning with Arraignment, and possibly ending with a jury trial.
With every step in the judicial process of a domestic violence case, you can either gain the advantage or lose it. This is to say that time is of the essence in seeking legal counsel and taking action. Protect your rights from the very beginning. You are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; however, every misstep on your part can allow the State’s case to strengthen.
Domestic Battery Charges
A charge of Domestic Battery is the same as regular simple Battery, with the exception of the added relationship element. Florida Statute section 784.03(1) defines Battery as the intentional touching or striking of another against the will of the victim, or intentionally causing bodily harm to the same. For a simple Battery charge to become Domestic Battery in Florida, the alleged victim must be a family or household member of the defendant. Domestic Battery is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by a year in jail and a $1000 fine. Misdemeanor Domestic Battery cases are litigated in a special court division called DVTD (Domestic Violence Trial Division).
Naturally, a Domestic Battery case can rise to the level of a felony if the harm to the alleged victim is severe (great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement). This is called Aggravated Battery or, in some cases, Felony Battery. The defendant can also face felony charges when facing accusations of Domestic Battery by Strangulation. Although felony Domestic Battery charges are not separated from the regular trial divisions like their misdemeanor counterparts, they do normally involve prosecutors who are specifically assigned to handle Domestic Violence cases. Felony Domestic Violence cases can lead to long prison sentences if not handled properly.
Harassment / Stalking Charges
Sometimes, domestic issues can involve actions other than physical harm. A series of criminal charges exist for accusations of harassment and stalking. Harassing Telephone Calls, a second degree misdemeanor punishable by 60 days jail and a $500 fine, involves repeated calls; a call with repeated rings; or a call intended to offend, annoy, abuse, threaten or harass a victim. Stalking is the willful, malicious and repeated following, harassing or cyberstalking of a victim. Stalking is considered a first degree misdemeanor, unless aggravating factors exist; Aggravated Stalking is a third degree felony, punishable by 5 years in prison, reserved for fact patterns with a credible threat, a victim under the age of 16, or a victim with a protective order.
Domestic Injunctions in Lake Worth and Wellington
An accusation of Domestic Battery, Harassment or Stalking can lead to court orders preventing the suspect from contacting the alleged victim. One such order is an Injunction. An Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence is sought civilly through a petition alleging the commission or threat of domestic violence. Florida Statute Section 741.30 enumerates several potential instances of domestic violence that serve as bases for securing an injunction.
The injunction itself, if granted, is not a criminal charge; however, an underlying charge of domestic battery, or a violation of the injunction, IS considered CRIMINAL. Violations of domestic injunctions can be misdemeanors or felonies depending on the number of prior convictions and the nature of the violation.
Keep in mind that injunctions normally prevent contact or communication in any form, including telephone and internet. Injunctions also prevent the accused from nearing the petitioner at his or her dwelling, place of business, or anywhere the petitioner is reasonably expected to be.
Another type of court order prohibiting contact between the accused and the alleged victim is an order of pretrial or supervised release (S.O.R.). When charged with Domestic Battery or a related offense in Palm Beach County, the accused generally remains in custody until he or she attends First Appearance (the bond and probable cause hearing) within 48 hours of arrest. At First Appearance, the presiding judge determines the conditions of a defendant’s release. This can include a monetary amount (bond) as well as court-ordered supervision by Pre-Trial Services. If the accused is placed on Supervised Release, he or she will have to report weekly to Pre-Trial Services and must abide by any and all conditions of release ordered by the judge. The judge almost always orders the defendant to have no contact with the alleged victim. If the defendant is later accused of contacting the alleged victim, a new criminal charge can arise from this violation. The charge can be treated as contempt of court for violation of the no contact order, or a separate charge of Violation of Pre-Trial Release.
What if the accuser is not a family or household member? In certain circumstances, an incident from a dating relationship can also receive the “domestic violence” designation in court. This is true for violations of injunction and domestic battery. An officer at the scene of the alleged offense will assess the nature of the relationship between the parties, and the State Attorney’s Office will review the relationship as well. Ultimately, law enforcement and the prosecuting agency will determine whether to categorize the charge as domestic.
How Our Lake Worth Law Firm Can Help
Our Lake Worth and Wellington criminal defense law firm has successfully handled countless domestic violence cases. Founding Attorney Lourdes Casanova is a former prosecutor who was previously tasked with filing and litigating domestic violence cases for the government. Today, she is a fierce defense attorney protecting the rights of the accused.
With real knowledge and experience by your side, you will greatly increase your chances of success. Let us fight against your domestic violence charge.
(561) 236-5340 email@example.com
Don’t delay. There are several actions an experienced criminal defense attorney should take at the outset of your case to improve chances of dismissal or reduced charges.
Domestic-Related Charges Attorney FAQs
How much does a lawyer cost in Florida for domestic-related charges?
Representation fees for a criminal defense attorney with particularized experience in domestic violence cases vary depending on the attorney’s level of experience, the severity of the allegations, the degree of the charge (felony or misdemeanor), the accused’s prior record, and other factors relevant to the attorney’s skill and the complexity of the domestic-related case. For a price quote specific to your case, contact our law firm today to schedule a consultation.
How do I choose a Florida lawyer for domestic-related charges?
Choosing the right attorney for your domestic violence case involves research into local attorneys in your area who handle domestic-related cases. Criminal defense law firms are the best place to start (as opposed to a family law attorney who handles the civil side of domestic issues). You should look for criminal defense attorneys in the specific geographic area you were charged in order to have the advantage of practical knowledge about the players in the system and local courtroom procedure. Of course, practical knowledge should be an added bonus to - and not a replacement of - an attorney’s knowledge of domestic violence laws, the Florida Statutes, and Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. For superior representation, check out reviews and recommendations to see which local criminal defense attorney has all the qualities your case requires for success.