Miami Domestic Violence Attorneys
Providing Dedicated Representation throughout Miami-Dade County & Beyond
Domestic violence charges are very serious; convicted offenders in Florida could face jail/prison time, harsh fines, restraining orders, probation, and child custody restrictions. Additionally, a conviction for domestic violence can negatively affect your future ability to secure employment, educational opportunities, housing, and more.
If you have been accused of domestic violence in Miami-Dade County or anywhere in South Florida, contact Hubbs Law Firm right away for a free, confidential consultation. Our Miami domestic violence attorneys understand what is at stake, and we know how to fight for your rights, your future, and your freedom.
Call us today at (305) 570-4802 or contact us online for a free consultation. Se habla español.
Types of Domestic Violence Cases We Handle
Domestic violence charges can be complex, with penalties ranging widely depending on the various circumstances involved in the alleged incident. At Hubbs Law Firm, we are extensively experienced in this area of law.
Our firm can help you with any of the following matters:
- Aggravated battery on a pregnant female
- By strangulation
- Domestic violence battery
- False imprisonment
- Stalking and cyberstalking
- Violent career criminal
Our founding attorney, E.J. Hubbs, is Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law by the Florida Bar. 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.
We represent clients throughout Miami-Dade County and the surrounding areas, including those in Miami Beach, Hialeah, Miami Gardens, Kendall, Fontainebleau, Homestead, Doral and South Miami, as well as other cities and communities in the Greater Miami area.
Florida Domestic Violence Statistics
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.
Understanding Your Charges
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 six 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 Florida
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.
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
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:
- Up to one year in jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
However, a more serious third-degree felony may be charged for crimes such as:
- Aggravated assault
- Domestic battery by strangulation
- False imprisonment
- Domestic violence battery (second or subsequent offense)
- Aggravated stalking
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
- 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.
Why You Need an Attorney
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
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.
Contact our Miami domestic violence lawyers for a free consultation; call Hubbs Law Firm at (305) 570-4802 or contact us online.
- 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.