The days of the police responding to a domestic dispute and helping to defuse the situation are over. These days, if the police are called to someone’s home to respond to any complaint of domestic violence, someone is going to be arrested and taken to jail.
This type of zero-tolerance policy is rooted in good intentions. However, in a number of cases, there is no physical evidence of injury or violence. Often, the reason someone called the police in the first place was to “calm” someone down. Doesn’t matter. If someone reports a domestic altercation of any kind, the police WILL make an arrest. Unfortunately, since the police already know they are going to be arresting someone by the time they arrive, this can lead to sloppy and incomplete investigations. Sometimes, they don’t even bother to listen to both sides of the story, or collect physical evidence, before making their decision on who to arrest.
My name is Tim Flaherty. I have been a criminal defense attorney since 2001. My partner’s name is Brandy Merrifield. We have chosen to focus our practice 100% on criminal defense throughout Okaloosa County. Call our Crestview domestic violence lawyers at (850) 398-8098 for help with your domestic violence charge.
How serious is a Domestic Violence charge?
In most situations, domestic violence is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail, 1 year probation, and a $1000.00 fine. If you are convicted, you will also be required to complete a 26 week course called Batterers Intervention. You will also lose your right to possess or own a firearm.
A Domestic Violence charge is not eligible for a record expungement or record seal unless it is dismissed. It is critical to do everything possible to get this charge dismissed.
If there is any allegation that you choked the alleged victim, or cut off their ability to breath in any way, you could be charged with the felony offense of Domestic Battery by Strangulation.
How will a domestic violence charge affect my military career?
If you are in the military, this is a career-killer. If you lose your right to possess a weapon, you obviously can’t serve in the military. If you are convicted of Domestic Violence, you WILL be separated from the military.
How can an attorney help me with a Domestic Violence charge in Crestview?
It is important to understand that just because you have been arrested, that does NOT mean you will be convicted. There is a much lower standard of proof required to arrest someone (probable cause) than there is to convict someone in a court of law (beyond a reasonable doubt).
Here is an overview of some of the steps we will take right away:
- After a domestic violence arrest, the Judge will almost always issue a No Contact order. We will call the alleged victim and find out if they will agree to drop the no contact order. If they agree to this, we will see if the prosecutor will agree. If the prosecutor agrees, the order can be changed within a few days. If they don’t agree, we will schedule a hearing in court. Click here for more information about getting a No Contact Order lifted.
- When we talk to the alleged victim, we will also find out if they intend to pursue charges against you. You may have heard that once the State “picks up” the charge, it doesn’t matter what the alleged victim wants. Technically, this is true. The State does have the option to proceed with prosecution with or without the cooperation of the victim. However, the State usually needs a witness that is willing to testify that the crime took place and to identify the perpetrator. In cases where the alleged victim is cooperative, our strategy is to set the case for trial.
- We will explore possible resolutions for the case that protect you from a conviction on your record, as well as keep you out of jail. One of those options is Pretrial Diversion. When we meet to talk about your case, we’ll go over this in much more detail to see what options are available given the facts of your case.
- We will prepare your case for trial. Whether the case goes to trial or not will be your decision, but it is important that the State understands you are not just going to roll over and plead guilty.
We won’t judge you—We will do whatever it takes.
Please do not take this charge lightly. Do not just take the plea deal offered by the State “to get it over with.” The consequences are life-long. Once the case is over, it is too late. Right now, you still have time to give yourself the best chance possible of a favorable outcome.
We believe that every client, no matter what they are accused of, is worth fighting for. We also believe that every case can be won with the right strategy.
When you are ready to put professional Crestview Domestic Violence attorneys to work for you, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 398-8098 for a free consultation.