Domestic Violence Charges
A domestic violence charge may be much more serious than many people realize. This is because Florida law contains several provisions specific to domestic violence cases that set these cases apart from other assault and battery cases. As a result, a conviction for domestic violence may have much more devastating consequences than a defendant in a particular case may realize. If you have been accused of domestic violence, you should talk to a violent crime attorney as soon as possible. As in any criminal case, it is critical that you speak to counsel before talking with police, the prosecuting attorney, or the judge in your case. Seasoned St. Petersburg and Clearwater domestic violence lawyer Will Hanlon has over 20 years of experience representing people accused of crimes in Florida, and he can defend you to the fullest extent of the law.Understanding Domestic Violence Charges Under Florida Law
The differences between domestic violence cases and similar, non-family member assault and battery cases begin with the initial response by police. If law enforcement is summoned to a residence or another location on a “domestic” call, an arrest will take place in most cases. In other types of cases, police may let the matter drop if the alleged “victim” does not wish to press charges, but officers are trained to respond to domestic violence calls in a pro-prosecutorial fashion. As the case progresses from the arrest phase toward trial, the State’s attorney will likely take a similar approach. If the victim of another crime states that they do not wish to prosecute, the attorney for the State will often dismiss the charges, knowing that a conviction will be difficult to obtain if the victim is compelled to testify against their wishes. In domestic violence cases, however, prosecutors often ignore the wishes of the alleged victim and force them to testify against the defendant. (Only a person accused of a crime has the right to avoid testifying under the Fifth Amendment; other potential witnesses must testify if summoned.)
There are many reasons to consult a domestic violence attorney in Clearwater or St. Petersburg if you are suspected of this crime. Unless a domestic violence charge is officially dropped by the State, or an acquittal is entered, the defendant faces a wide array of penalties that include not only possible jail time and fines but also participation in a batterer’s intervention program (BIP) at the defendant’s expense. A BIP program typically takes about six months to complete and may require a significant financial outlay by the defendant. A conviction for domestic violence may also have an adverse effect on child custody proceedings, and the charge may stay on the defendant’s record for the remainder of their life, potentially affecting future employment or educational opportunities as well as any plans for military service. A person convicted of domestic violence may also lose their right to possess a firearm or hold a concealed weapons permit. The conviction may be used as an enhancement factor during sentencing if the defendant is charged with another crime in the future.Talk to a Dedicated Domestic Violence Lawyer in Clearwater or St. Petersburg
Fortunately, there are many possible defenses to an accusation of domestic violence, and it may be possible to have the charges dismissed or an acquittal entered in many cases. Although each case is unique, the defendant may be able to successfully claim self-defense or make use of Florida’s stand your ground law. Additionally, there may be possible constitutional defenses, or the defendant may be able to argue that the State of Florida lacks sufficient evidence to meet its burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are facing a domestic violence charge, you need to avail yourself of every possible defense in an effort to avoid the potentially harsh consequences of a conviction. Experienced St. Petersburg and Clearwater domestic violence attorney Will Hanlon can help. Call Hanlon Law today at 813-334-3910 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. We also represent people in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Newport Richey, and Dade City who need an injunction attorney to fight the civil consequences of allegations of domestic violence.