Is Domestic Violence A Felony In Florida?
Domestic violence is a serious criminal offense. Unfortunately, it is also one of the more common issues cited in criminal complaints in Florida. According to data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there were 104,914 arrests for domestic violence reported in the state in 2018 alone.
You may be wondering: Is domestic violence a felony? The short answer is “it depends”—domestic violence can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony based on the specific allegations. Here, our Orlando domestic violence attorney provides a more detailed explanation of the charges.
Baseline: Domestic Violence is Often Charged as a Misdemeanor Offense in Florida.
The term domestic violence actually covers a wide range of different specific criminal offenses. To constitute domestic violence under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 741.28), the offense must have been committed against a “family or household member.” It is a broad term that includes virtually all people that have lived together for an extended period of time or currently or have shared an intimate familial relationship. For example, a former spouse can qualify under the statute.
Most domestic violence charges in Florida are misdemeanor criminal offenses. However, there are plenty of exceptions. Domestic violence absolutely can be charged as a felony in Florida when certain criteria are met. Further, it would be a huge mistake to view a misdemeanor domestic violence charge as a minor issue. It is still a very serious criminal offense that can carry significant jail time (up to one year), fines, and the loss of certain family law rights.
Four Circumstances When a Domestic Violence Charge is a Felony in Florida
While domestic violence is typically a misdemeanor criminal offense as a baseline in Florida, it will be charged as a felony if certain “aggravating” factors are present. Here are the four most common circumstances in which a domestic violence offense is charged as a felony in Florida:
- Prior History of Convictions: A second or subsequent domestic violence offense can be charged as a felony on the basis of prior conviction.
- Serious Bodily Harm: If the victim sustained serious bodily harm in the attack, the perpetrator can be charged with a felony.
- Use of a Deadly Weapon: If a deadly weapon—such as a firearm—was used in the incident, the offender could face a felony charge.
- Strangulation: In Florida, strangulation is an automatic felony domestic violence enhancer. Even without a serious bodily injury, strangulation can be charged as felony domestic violence.
A felony domestic violence charge is a very serious criminal offense in Florida. Any person facing felony domestic violence allegations needs experienced professional legal representation. A top Orlando domestic violence defense lawyer can help you protect your rights and your future.
Speak to an Orlando, FL Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Today
At The Baez Law Firm, our Orlando domestic violence defense attorney is a skilled and tireless advocate for justice. If you were arrested on a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence charge, we are more than ready to help. Contact us today to set up a fully private case review. From our law office in Orlando, we handle domestic violence charges throughout all of Central Florida.