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Florida’s Domestic Violence Laws

Domestic violence charges in Florida are not unusual, and they can be serious. Read on to learn more about what constitutes domestic violence under Florida law and what the potential consequences to such a charge can be.

What is domestic violence?

The U.S. Department of Justice defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Florida’s domestic violence statute defines it as any of the following crimes resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member:

  • assault or aggravated assault;
  • battery or aggravated battery;
  • stalking or aggravated stalking;
  • kidnapping;
  • false imprisonment; or
  • any other criminal offense.

A “family or household member” protected by the statute includes:

  • spouses;
  • former spouses;
  • persons related by blood or marriage;
  • persons who presently live together as if they are a family;
  • persons who used to live together as if they were a family; and
  • persons who have a child together regardless of whether they have been married.

Except for parents with a child in common, people who have never lived together in the same dwelling are not members of the same family or household.

Under this statute, domestic violence is not really a separate crime as such. It is more of a classification of a kind of offense. All the offenses covered by the statute are already crimes under the law, but when they are committed against a family or household member, they are crimes of domestic violence, triggering more severe penalties and changing the way prosecutors handle them.

Also, notice that the statute does not specifically apply to couples in a dating relationship who have never lived together. A separate statute defines “dating violence” as violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant romantic or intimate relationship. This statute permits victims of dating violence to request a protective injunction (also known as a restraining order) against the alleged perpetrator of the violence.

Potential consequences of a domestic violence charge

If you are charged with domestic violence, you face potential penalties in both civil and criminal court. In civil court, the alleged victim can seek a protective injunction against you, which may order you to refrain from abuse as well as to stay away a certain distance and leave your home. In criminal court, if you are convicted or plead guilty or no contest, you may be sentenced to prison, given probation, ordered to undergo drug and alcohol treatment and anger management programs, given community service, or fined. Even a plea of no contest can saddle you with a criminal record that can have an impact on you for the rest of your life.

Consult an Orlando domestic violence lawyer

If you are facing domestic violence charges, you need help from an experienced lawyer to determine the best strategy in your case, before you enter a plea. The knowledgeable Orlando lawyers of The Baez Law Firm have years of experience representing clients accused of domestic violence in Orlando, Miami, and throughout Florida. Contact The Baez Law Firm today for a consultation on your case.

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