Nothing can make an argument with your loved one or family member worse than the cops showing up. They tend to storm in with preconceived notions that someone must go to jail. Even with no visible physical injuries, law enforcement officers will make an arrest anytime they are called for a domestic dispute.
If you are a Destin resident, or were on vacation in Destin and this has happened to you, you are likely embarrassed and terrified about what is going to happen next.
My name is Tim Flaherty. I’ve been a Destin domestic violence charge defense attorney since 2001 and have handled cases throughout Okaloosa and Walton County. Brandy Merrifield is my partner. She has worked with me since 2007. We are standing by, ready to help, so give us a call at (850) 460-7470.
Domestic Violence under Florida Law
Florida Statute 741.28(2) defines Domestic Violence as:
“Domestic Violence means any assault, aggravated assault, battery,… or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member…”
To better understand what constitutes a battery, Florida Statute 784.03(1)(a)(1) defines Battery as:
“The offense of battery occurs when a person actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other.”
To summarize, this means that you could do something as simple and harmless as grabbing someone’s arm to get their attention and end up with a Domestic Violence charge.
When can a Destin Domestic Violence charge be filed as a felony?
Most Domestic Violence cases in Destin are a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. There are special circumstances that will move the charge up from a misdemeanor to a felony, such as:
Domestic Battery by Strangulation
When the police respond to a domestic disturbance in Destin, the first thing they will do is talk to the alleged victim. One of the questions they will ask is whether the suspect put their hands around their neck, or choked them. They ask that because they are looking for evidence to charge Domestic Battery by Strangulation. Police are trained to look for the most serious crime possible. They are also very good at asking leading questions to get victims to give them the evidence they need to charge the more serious crime.
In order for the State to convict you of Domestic Battery by Strangulation, they must prove that the suspect, against the victim’s will, knowingly and intentionally interfered with the breathing or circulation of the victim, which created a risk of, or caused, great bodily harm, by applying pressure on the neck or throat of the victim, or by blocking the nose or mouth of the victim.
Domestic Battery by Strangulation is a 3rd degree felony with a possible sentence of up to 5 years in prison. Another thing to keep in mind: this charge cannot be expunged or sealed if you are convicted.
Keep one thing in mind: just because the charge is more serious, that doesn’t mean the case is hopeless. You still have the right to fight the charge and force the State to prove it. We can also reach out to the alleged victim to see if they would be willing to file a request to drop the charges. The State can still move forward with prosecution even if the alleged victim requests a dismissal, but it makes it a lot tougher for them and increases your chances for a successful outcome.
Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Woman in Destin
The charge is called Aggravated Battery because the alleged victim was pregnant. It has nothing to do with the seriousness of the battery, or the severity of any injuries suffered.
In order for the State to prove this charge beyond a reasonable doubt, they will have to prove that the alleged victim was pregnant at the time of the battery, and that you knew or should have known they were pregnant.
Aggravated Battery on a Pregnant Woman is a second degree felony with a possible 15 year prison sentence. It also scores a minimum sentence of 21 months in prison under Florida sentencing guidelines.
Important things to remember after being arrested for a Destin Domestic Violence charge.
If you have been arrested for a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence offense, it is very important that you find a committed attorney to fight for your rights and defend you in court. Domestic Violence cases are not taken lightly by the State. Schedule an appointment with an experienced defense attorney right away. It could make a big difference in the outcome of your case.
- If there is a No Contact Order in place between you and the alleged victim, do not violate this. If you do, you will land back in jail until the end of your case. Contact us at (850) 460-7470 to discuss how to get the No Contact Order lifted so you can return home.
- There is hope. With professional Domestic Violence attorneys by your side, your case could be dismissed. Brandy and I will do everything possible to make that happen.
What are the benefits of hiring a Destin Domestic Violence Attorney?
- We will call the alleged victim and get their side of the story. If they want to cooperate with getting the charges dropped, we will explain to them how to do that in a way that gets the prosecutor’s attention.
- We will show the prosecutor who you are as a person, not just a case number.
- We will meet with the prosecutor and give them the opportunity to do the right thing and dismiss the case or at least offer you a diversion program that can result in charges being dropped.
- We will develop an effective defense strategy to use at trial if the prosecutor won’t do the right thing and dismiss the case.
We have had a lot of success defending Domestic Violence cases with this approach over the years. Our #1 goal will be to help you move on with your life, without a Domestic Violence conviction on your record.
What are some possible results for a Destin Domestic Violence case?
The good news is that even though you have been arrested for Domestic Violence, it does not have to stay on your record forever. Our goal is to get your case dismissed. Whether that happens through an outright dismissal or a diversion program, we will work to have your Destin Domestic Violence charge thrown out.
If we are able to get your case dismissed, and you are otherwise eligible, we can proceed with a record expungement that will erase this completely off your record so you can put this nightmare behind you for good.
Contact an Okaloosa County Domestic Violence Attorney
If you or a loved one have been charged with domestic violence in Destin, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.