Domestic violence charges can have serious consequences for your future, including negative effects on your job search and a potential loss of child custody. It is essential that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to determine the best way to proceed with your case.
Domestic Violence Charges Can Apply to Many Types of Disputes
Florida Statute 784.03 defines domestic violence as a battery that “occurs when a person actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against their will.” You can be charged with domestic violence even if the victim is not seriously injured—and it’s not uncommon for arguments that involve pushing or shoving with no lasting injury to result in domestic violence charges. However, there are enhanced penalties elevating domestic violence by strangulation to a third-degree felony offense with a potential sentence of five years in prison.
You should also keep in mind that domestic violence doesn’t always involve two people with a romantic relationship. To qualify as domestic violence, the altercation must simply involve family members or household members. This includes spouses, former spouses, people related by blood or marriage, people living together as a family, people who previously shared a household, and people who share a child.
The Victim Isn’t the One Who Decides If the Case Will Proceed
One of the biggest myths about domestic violence is that the victim has the authority to press charges. The state is pursuing the case in the interest of public safety and can choose to proceed even if the victim wants the charges dropped.
When a victim wants the charges to be dropped, they should work with their own attorney to make their wishes known to the prosecutor. You do not want to interfere in this process since there will be a no-contact order in place. Actions that could be interpreted as intimidation or coercion will result in additional legal penalties.
Seeking Counseling or Treatment Shows a Desire for Accountability
In many cases, it is beneficial to voluntarily seek mental health, anger management, or substance abuse counseling while charges are pending. Taking steps to address the issue on your own is particularly helpful when it is your first offense, you have no prior record of violent behavior, and/or the victim was not seriously injured.
Choosing to seek treatment shows that you recognize the seriousness of your mistake and are taking responsibility for your actions. This can help convince the prosecutor that you do not pose a significant threat to public safety.
If you are interested in counseling or treatment options, your attorney may be able to recommend programs that are most likely to be viewed favorably by the court.
The Most Effective Defense Depends on the Circumstances
Every domestic violence case is different, but some potential defense strategies your attorney may recommend include:
- Immediate danger. You may be able to argue that your actions were self-defense or qualify for protection under Florida’s stand your ground laws.
- Defense of others or defense of property. Your actions might be legally justified if you were acting to protect others or avoid property damage.
- Lack of corroboration. If there are no witnesses and the victim has no visible injuries, you may be able to argue that the victim is not being truthful.
- Mutual confrontation. If you are also injured, you might be able to argue that the charge arises from mutual confrontation.
- Factual dispute. You may raise objections to the accuracy of the facts surrounding the incident.
If you believe there is evidence that could be persuasive in building your defense, you should discuss this issue with your attorney. With strong evidence, your attorney may be able to get the charges reduced or dropped.
Contact an Okaloosa County Domestic Violence Attorney
If you or a loved one have been charged with domestic violence in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 403-6835 for a free consultation.