According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one in every three women and one in every ten men in the United States have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. That said, under section 741.28 Florida Statutes, domestic violence is defined as any assault and battery by one family member against another that results in physical injury or death.
With that in mind, if you’ve been charged with domestic violence in Florida, then it is imperative for you to fathom the domestic violence laws of this state. Is domestic violence a felony in Florida? Below is a brief elucidation of the answer to this question and so much more.
Who Do the Domestic Violence Laws in Florida Apply To?
Domestic violence is broadly defined in the Florida Statutes from sections 741.28 through 741.4651. Although the common assumption is that domestic violence cases only arise between spouses or individuals who are romantically involved, this is not the legal position in Florida.
According to the aforementioned sections of the Florida Statutes, domestic violence can occur between:
- Spouses and former spouses: Couples who are currently married and those who are divorced can be charged with domestic violence.
- Parents of a child: If two individuals have a child together, they can be charged with domestic violence regardless of the fact that they do not live together.
- Family members: Individuals who are living together as a family unit or have done so in the past.
- Blood relations: Persons related by either blood or marriage. Blood relations comprises siblings, parents and their children, and grandparents and grandchildren.
- Related by marriage: Florida domestic violence laws also apply to individuals related by marriage. However, this depends on whether they are currently living together or have done so in the past. An example of relatives we acquire through marriage includes in-laws and other step-relatives.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence Under Florida laws?
In Florida, ten crimes are enumerated under the umbrella of domestic violence. That said, it is fundamental to note that the key distinguishing factor between domestic violence charges and other regular crimes is the relationship between the parties involved.
That said, the following are the various domestic violence crimes listed in the Florida Statutes:
Put briefly, assault is the act of intentionally threatening another person with violence while being in the position to carry out the said threats. Similarly, the victim has to experience genuine fear and belief that your actions will cause them physical harm.
For instance, if individual A threatens to punch individual B by raising his fist and then withdraws at the last minute, individual B has every reason to believe that they will get punched. Therefore, even though individual B walks away from that encounter unharmed, individual A can still be charged with assault.
Under Florida laws, assault is considered a second-degree misdemeanor and comes with a maximum sentence of sixty days and a fine of up to $500.
Aggravated assault simply entails assaulting another individual with a deadly weapon. For example, if you threaten to hit another individual with a baseball bat or any other item, then you can be charged with this third-degree felony.
Additionally, just like in the aforementioned assault charge, even though you didn’t actually swing the baseball bat, the fact that you caused another individual fear and made them believe that you would use the bat on them is enough to charge you with aggravated assault. The maximum sentence for this felony charge is five years, with a fine of up to $5000.
Simply put, battery entails touching another person or causing them bodily harm. Therefore, you can be charged with battery if you punch someone else or shove them without injuring them.
That said, if this is your first conviction, you may be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of one year and a fine of up to $1000. However, if you have a prior battery conviction, you will be charged with a third-degree felony, which comes with a maximum sentence of five years and a fine of up to $5000.
Kidnapping is usually charged in conjunction with domestic violence when a person is held against their will by another individual who intends to terrorize them and cause them bodily harm. If convicted of this first-degree felony, then you may face up to thirty years in prison and pay a fine of up to $10,000.
Domestic Violence Penalties in Florida
Under chapter 741, Florida Statutes, the domestic nature of domestic violence crimes makes it imperative for perpetrators to suffer additional penalties. These include:
- Additional community service hours.
- Loss of vital civil liberties, such as their concealed carry rights.
- Twelve months of probation.
- Completion of a twenty-six-week Batterer’s Invention Program (BIP).
How Can a Florida Defense Attorney Help?
The truth is that if you get convicted of a domestic violence charge, then you have everything to lose. This is because, once convicted, you’ll not only be facing a lengthy jail term but also a hefty fine. Therefore, it is in your best interest to ensure that you get a qualified and skilled Florida domestic violence attorney to help you during this process.
With the help of an experienced Florida domestic violence defense attorney, you may be able to avoid a conviction altogether or get convicted for a crime with less severe consequences. This is because your Florida defense attorney will use various strategies to either get the charges dismissed or have your sentence reduced. Similarly, your Florida domestic violence attorney will offer you wise legal counsel during this ordeal.
Contact Meltzer and Bell Today!
For more information on domestic violence crimes, do not hesitate to contact us today. Similarly, you can book an appointment with us today through (772) 248-1215. Trust us to provide you with the perfect legal counsel and assistance that you need.