Awareness about domestic violence has increased in recent years. Florida's lawmakers and courts have responded to address the kind of abuse that often occurs in a private setting. The Florida Statutes (§ 741.2901) refer to domestic violence "as a criminal act rather than a private matter."
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 106,882 domestic violence crimes were reported in Florida in 2014, resulting in 64,460 arrests. In Miami-Dade County alone, there were 9,811 domestic violence incidents reported that year, nearly one-tenth of all incidents statewide and more than any other county in the state.
The Domestic Violence (DV) Unit of the Miami Police Department, for example, in 2012 received a total of 3,305 cases, conducted 13 operations, and made a total of 2,255 DV-related arrests.
Domestic violence is a serious violent crime that may result in severe penalties upon conviction, including jail and expensive fines. In addition, a person convicted of domestic violence may face restrictions that impose conditions on family life, such as child custody or living arrangements. False allegations are particularly serious.
Attorney for Domestic Violence Cases in Miami, FL
If you were arrested for domestic violence under § 741.30 of the Florida Statutes or if you fear that you may be arrested soon due to a recent incident, or if you violated a protective order, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to discuss the details of your case.
Hubbs Law is experienced in defending people who are accused of domestic violence in Miami and throughout Miami-Dade County, including Miami Beach, Hialeah, Miami Gardens, Kendall, Fontainebleau, Homestead, Doral and South Miami, as well as other cities and communities in the Greater Miami area.
E.J. Hubbs has earned "Board Certified" recognition from the Florida Bar in criminal trial law. Board certification is the highest level of evaluation and accreditation for lawyers by the Florida Bar and represents competency and experience within an area of law, as well as professionalism and ethics in practice.
Attorney E.J. Hubbs applies his knowledge of the law to defend a variety of domestic violence cases under § 741.30 and related laws of the Florida Statutes, including:
- Violation of a Domestic Violence Injunction
- Violation of a Repeat Violence Injunction
- Violation of a Sexual Violence Injunction
- Violation of a Dating Violence Injunction
Contact Hubbs Law at (305) 615-5945
right away to speak with a dedicated, compassionate attorney who will listen to you, explain the charges and penalties you face if convicted, and provide guidance about how you might be able handle your situation. Your initial consultation is free. Call Hubbs Law to schedule an appointment today.
Information about Domestic Violence in Miami, FL
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Domestic Violence in Miami, Florida
A person commits domestic violence when he or she acts in a violent way or commits assault or battery on a spouse, domestic partner, romantic partner, or family or household member in violation of Chapter 741 of the Florida Statutes. One incident is enough for a charge of domestic violence to be filed.
In many domestic violence cases, a person exhibits rage and physically harms another person. But in other cases, false accusations are made in an effort to prevail in a divorce, a quarrel over child custody, or some other disagreement. Sorting out the "he-said / she-said" of a domestic dispute is often difficult, if not impossible. In other incidents, neighbors summon the police due to a loud argument and someone is arrested for nothing more than a disagreement.
In addition to "general" domestic violence criminal charges, Florida has identified other specific situations when domestic violence may occur, which may result in a civil injunction, including:
- Repeat Violence: "Two (or more) incidents of violence or stalking committed by the defendant, one of which must have been within six months of the filing of the petition (for a restraining order), which are directed against the petitioner or the petitioner’s immediate family member (F.S. 784.046(1)(b)).
- Sexual Violence: "Sexual battery, a lewd or lascivious act committed upon or in the presence of a person younger than 16, luring or enticing a child, sexual performance by a child, or any other forcible felony wherein a sexual act is committed or attempted (F.S. 784.046(1)(c)(1-5)).
- Dating Violence: Violence between individuals who have or have had a "continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature." A dating relationship "must have existed within the past 6 months, the nature of the relationship must have been characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the parties, and the frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship must have included that the persons have been involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship" (F.S. 784.046(1)(d)(1-3)).
- Stalking: Someone who "willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of 'stalking.' " If "a credible threat" is made, the alleged stalker may be charged with aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony (F.S. 794.048).
Injunction for Protection in Miami, FL
In Florida, when one family or household member is abused by another family or household member, the alleged victim may seek an "injunction for protection" from a court. By law, a protective order, also known as a restraining order, can be implemented in cases of domestic violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking.
If a petition requesting an Injunction for Protection from domestic violence is filed against you, the provisions of the order can do the following:
- prevent further acts of abuse;
- requiring you to leave the family home;
- prevent you from going to the petitioner's residence, school, business, or place or employment;
- prevent you from seeing your minor children; and
- require you to pay support if legally obligated to do so.
A petitioner for an injunction for protection must only demonstrate “reasonable cause” to believe that he or she is about to become a victim of domestic violence, but the evidence must be "strong and clear." (Kopelovich v. Kopelovich, 793 So.2d 31 (2nd DCA 2001).)
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Definitions of Terms Related to Domestic Violence
The Florida Statutes, Title XLII, Chapter 741, Section 741.28 defines domestic violence as any of the following actions that result in the injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member:
- Any other Criminal Offense
A "family or household member" is defined as:
- 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/or
- Persons who are parents of a child in common, regardless of whether they have been married
Note: Except for persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.
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Elements Required to Prove a Charge of Domestic Violence in Florida
Domestic violence is prosecuted in Florida in the same way as any other assault or battery case, in which the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:
- Intentionally touched or struck the alleged victim against his or her will; or
- Intentionally caused bodily harm to the alleged victim; or
- Intentionally and unlawfully threatened, either by word or act, to do violence to the victim; and at the time, appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat; or the act of the defendant created in the mind of the alleged victim a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place
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Penalties for Domestic Violence in Florida
A first-time domestic violence battery offense with no aggravating circumstances is usually charged as a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida, which is punishable by:
However, a more serious third-degree felony may be charged for crimes such as:
- Domestic Battery by Strangulation
- Domestic Violence Battery (Second or Subsequent Offense)
A third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Minimum and maximum penalties have been established for each type of domestic violence offense. Upon conviction, Florida Statutes § 741.283 mandates a minimum sentence of five days in jail for a domestic violence crime in which "bodily harm" was inflicted.
A more serious second-degree felony may be charged for crimes such as:
- Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Female
A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Minimum and maximum penalties have been established for each type of domestic violence offense. Upon conviction, § 741.283 of the Florida Statutes mandates a minimum sentence of five days in jail for a domestic violence crime in which "bodily harm" was inflicted.
In addition, anyone convicted or who pleads guilty to domestic violence must attend and complete a six-month Batterers Intervention Program (BIP) at his or her own expense, if the judge or jury found that the victim suffered any bodily harm.
Additional Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction
It is smart to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as you are charged with domestic violence because the charge can have an effect on many other aspects of life, including:
- Without an attorney in a domestic violence case, you must appear before a judge before a bond amount is set, which means you could be in jail for a day or more before being released
- If you make your initial appearance before a judge without an attorney, a "no contact" provision may be a condition of your release, which means that you may not lawfully return to your home, see your children, or communicate with the alleged victim until this condition is lifted by the court
- Probation and community service may be required
- The court may require counseling or some other form of treatment for a violent person
- A person convicted of domestic violence will be banned for life from owning a gun
- Even if you plead "no contest" and receive a "withhold of adjudication" on either a misdemeanor or felony charge of domestic violence, you will never be able to seal your criminal record, which means that anyone, including friends and employers, can find details about your arrest and prosecution on a law enforcement, court, or private website
- The arrest, prosecution, or conviction for domestic violence can be cited and used against you in a divorce, family law, or child-sharing (child custody) hearing
- If you are not a United States citizen, a domestic violence conviction may result in your removal from the U.S. and other immigration consequences
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Florida's "Stand Your Ground" Law
The controversial "Castle Doctrine" became a law in Florida on March 23, 2005. The “Castle Doctrine” (Florida Statutes, § 776.013) provides for the justifiable use of force by proclaiming that a man's (or woman's) home is his (or her) castle and that he (or she) need not retreat from his or her home if attacked in the home.
The “Castle Doctrine” incorporates another controversial law, Florida's “Stand Your Ground” Law. Under the “Stand Your Ground” law, a person has no duty to retreat from his or her home, dwelling, or vehicle if he or she is not engaged in criminal activity and occupies a place where he or she has a right to occupy. These laws are often relevant in Domestic Violence cases and may be a basis for defending domestic violence charges.
Under F.S. § 776.012(1), a person is justified in using force against another if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to defend himself or herself against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. There is no duty to retreat prior to using such force.
Under F.S. § 776.012(2), a person is justified in using deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. There is no duty to retreat and a person has the right to stand his or her ground so long as that person using deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has the right to be.
Under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, a Domestic Violence defendant may claim self-defense at trial. In addition, anyone who claims self-defense under this law may file a “motion to dismiss based on statutory immunity” before trial, which may result in a pretrial dismissal. In any potential self-defense case, it is wise to have an experienced attorney evaluate the facts of the case to determine eligibility for a motion to dismiss based on the “Stand Your Ground” law.
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Safespace, Inn Transition DVOUs & CVAC — The Miami-Dade County Community Action and Human Services Department currently operates two Domestic Violence Centers (shelters): Safespace North and Safespace South; two Transitional Housing Facilities: Inn Transition North and Inn Transition South; three Domestic Violence Outreach Units (DVOUs); and the Coordinated Victims Assistance Center (CVAC). These programs offer protection and supportive services to victims of domestic violence and their dependents. The county also provides crisis intervention and advocacy services, including counseling, information and referral, safe shelter, transportation, emergency financial assistance, food and clothing, and other services.
Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence — The FCADV maintains a directory of all Florida certified domestic violence centers. The centers provide emergency shelter, a 24-hour hotline, advocacy, children’s program, community education, crisis counseling, service management, professional training, safety planning, information and referral, as well as court and legal advocacy, outreach, primary prevention programming, support groups and assist with the relocation assistance application.
National Center for Victims of Crime — Dating Violence — A NCVC bulletin describes dating violence and what to do if you or someone you know is a victim of dating violence or other forms of violence in a domestic relationship.
Find an Attorney for Domestic Violence Defense in Miami, FL
If you were charged for Domestic Violence anywhere in Miami, Florida or Miami-Dade County, FL, or if a warrant has been issued for you in a domestic violence case, then you need an experienced lawyer to help with your defense at each stage of your case.
At Hubbs Law, we fight to protect the rights of clients charged with domestic assault, domestic battery, or other types of domestic violence in Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Hialeah, Miami Gardens, South Miami, Homestead, and anywhere else in Miami-Dade County.
Protect yourself, your family, and your career by contacting a dedicated attorney for domestic violence cases right away. Call Hubbs Law today at (305) 615-5945
to schedule a free initial appointment to discuss your domestic violence case.
This article was last updated on Tuesday, June 19, 2017.