Let’s face it: Relationships are complicated. And sometimes, they turn ugly.
Disagreements happen. Hot words erupt. Tempers reach a boil. A fight ensues, and next thing you know, the police are at the door.
Maybe the incident was nothing more than angry screams and finger pointing, but the allegations start flying. Accusations of domestic violence are thrown about like daggers, and you find yourself on the receiving end.
Make no mistake, domestic violence is a serious offense. It ruins lives. Shatters families. And wrecks careers.
But when a person is falsely accused of a domestic violence crime he/she didn’t commit, the devastation is magnified.
Watch: What You Need to Know About Domestic Violence?
Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Lawyer, Robert Malove, explains what to do if you are falsely accused of domestic violence.
There are missed days from work, estrangement from children and family members, tarnished reputations, mental and emotional stress – even, possible incarceration. Often times, it appears the burden of proof falls completely on the shoulders of the accused.
It can feel like the decks are squarely stacked against you.
To compound matters, in the state of Florida, the legal maze can be all the more challenging because the alleged victim is not required to bring charges against the alleged perpetrator of a domestic violence offense. Pressing charges is the jurisdiction of the state.
Even if the alleged victim decides not to prosecute, state prosecutors may – and do – continue to aggressively pursue prosecution, and that can mean the difference between jail time and freedom if the prosecution prevails.
Knowing how to navigate the legal system – and knowing where to look for holes in the prosecution’s case – is crucial in building a defense against a false domestic violence accusation and getting on the right side of the law.
What is domestic violence?
Generally defined, domestic violence is an umbrella term used to categorize different forms of physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse involving the use of physical aggression, intimidation or coercion that causes injury or death to a spouse, partner, child, family or other household members. This includes assault, battery, stalking, false imprisonment or criminal harassment among other offenses.
According to Florida Statutes (Domestic violence; definitions.— As used in sections 741.28 through 741.31):
“Domestic violence” means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.
“Family or household member” means 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. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing, or have in the past resided, together in the same single dwelling unit.
What does that mean in the eyes of the law?
Under the current (and broad) definition, anyone fitting this description could be accused of an act of domestic violence, even if it’s just perceived. In other words, the consequences of a single argument can now be devastating for the accused.
What are the penalties?
Though penalties vary according to the specific charge, the problem lies in that “any” violence between “household members” today – at least as required by Florida Statutes – is automatically charged as domestic violence.
When a charge is classified as “domestic violence” it invokes several additional statutes that deal with minimum penalties, as well as how the case is to be handled by law enforcement and the state attorney’s office.
- Someone who is convicted of a domestic violence offense involving the intentional infliction of bodily harm to another person must serve a minimum of 5 days in the county jail, unless the defendant’s sentence includes a non-suspended period of incarceration in a state correctional facility.
- A defendant found guilty of a domestic violence offense must serve a minimum of one-year probation, during which he/she is required to attend a 26 to 29-week batterers’ intervention program. (The court is required to impose the batterers’ intervention program as a condition of the defendant’s probation unless the court states on the record why it believes this program would not be appropriate.)
- If you are arrested and charged with a domestic violence offense, your permit to carry a concealed weapon is immediately suspended you’re not allowed to carry any weapons until the case is resolved and, if found guilty, your rights under the Second Amendment are revoked. Possession of a firearm after a finding of guilt can be a federal felony offense.
- A person convicted of a criminal offense can not seal or expunge a criminal record (except if you were the victim of human trafficking), unless the conviction was withheld, also known as ‘adjudication withheld.’ A defendant still has a shot at sealing or expunging his/her record, however, if certain criteria were met. That’s why it’s important to have an attorney who understands the nuances of the law and who can navigate the complexities of the legal system.
- The defendant will likely be ordered to serve community service hours if found guilty
What to do if you’re accused of a domestic violence offense?
First, get a Fort Lauderdale domestic violence lawyer who understands Florida domestic violence laws. A knowledgeable attorney can sniff out a weak case from a strong one by looking for evidence that debunks the prosecution’s allegations.
- Is there a 911 tape recording that supports the accusations?
- Did the defendant make any statements?
- Did the alleged victim seek medical treatment?
- Were there witnesses? Or any pictures taken?
- Are there doctors and nurses who will testify?
- Was the accused taking any medication that could have caused an adverse reaction and caused him/her to lash out?
- Is the charge a result of bona fide domestic violence or was the incident exaggerated?
- Has the victim already recanted his/her story and the relationship is back to normal?
- Has this ever happened before?
These are the kinds of questions a Fort Lauderdale domestic violence lawyer will seek answers to in order to obtain a successful outcome for his client. It is the job of a good defense lawyer to prove what actually happened and protect the innocent.
Domestic violence is a serious matter and requires an experienced attorney who not only knows the law but knows how to expertly navigate the legal system.
Fort Lauderdale domestic violence Lawyer, Robert David Malove of The Law Offices of Robert David Malove is Board Certified by the Florida Bar as an “expert/specialist” in Criminal Law and concentrates on all facets of criminal defense. This includes legal issues relating to DUI, white collar crime, and domestic violence disputes.
If you believe you’ve been wrongfully charged call Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Lawyer, Robert at (954) 861-0384 to get started on your defense.