The days of the police responding to a domestic dispute and helping to defuse the situation are over. These days, if the police respond to a domestic dispute, someone will be arrested. No amount of talking or pleading will fix this disaster once law enforcement arrives.
Often, an arrest is made even though there are no signs of actual violence. No injuries or physical evidence. The police show up knowing that someone is going to jail, so they don’t bother to conduct a full investigation or to weigh both sides of the story. They also don’t take the time to understand how devastating a domestic violence arrest can be to someone’s family, their job, and their life.
The Okaloosa County domestic violence defense attorneys with Flaherty & Merrifield understand what you are going through. We can help. Call (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.
Understanding What Constitutes Domestic Violence In Florida
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.”
Domestic Violence in Okaloosa County is usually charged as a first degree misdemeanor. A conviction is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or one year of reporting probation. A conviction also results in a forfeiture of your right to own or possess a firearm, so if you are in the military, a conviction for Domestic Violence is a career-ender.
What about Domestic Violence by Strangulation? Is that a felony?
The most common way that a domestic violence charge can be enhanced to a felony is if there was an allegation of strangulation or choking of the victim.
This charge is classified as Domestic Battery by Strangulation. Pursuant to Florida Statute 784.041(2)(a), this crime is committed when the defendant impedes the blood flow or breathing of the victim against their will, and by doing so, creates a risk of great bodily harm.
Prosecutors will look for signs of bruising, redness, or flushness on the victim’s neck, and they will also ask the victim if the defendant touched his or her neck. Unfortunately, in some cases, if the victim even mentions that their neck was touched or grabbed, the police charge the defendant with the more serious felony offense.
Domestic Battery by Strangulation is a third degree felony offense punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a permanent felony conviction.
What steps can be taken right away to improve my chances?
It is crucial to take action right away if you have been charged with Domestic Violence in Okaloosa County. There are two reasons for this:
- If we can get a “drop charge request” from the victim before formal charges are filed against you at arraignment, it is possible to get the case dismissed.
- We will immediately go to work getting the no contact order lifted so that you can reunite with your loved one without the fear of being caught having contact.
After the no contact order is lifted, we will work on getting the charges dismissed. The quickest and most effective way to do that is to convince the prosecutor to simply dismiss the case. The State can proceed with prosecution against you with or without the cooperation of the victim, but in reality, they need a witness or victim who is willing to testify against you. If not, it is more likely they will drop the case.
A lot of our strategy in Domestic Violence cases starts with our interview of the victim. If they are cooperative and want the case against you dismissed, we know exactly what moves to make to leverage the State into doing the right thing and dropping the charge.
If the victim is not on “our side”, or if the State refuses to drop the case, we will set the case for trial. You should know that the vast majority of these cases are resolved without a trial, but if that is the direction your case goes, rest assured that we have a track record of success defending domestic violence charges in Okaloosa County.
What if the State won’t dismiss the charge but I don’t want to go to trial?
Fortunately, there is another option to resolve domestic violence cases in Okaloosa County that guarantees a dismissal of all charges. When we meet to discuss your case, we’ll talk about Pretrial Diversion and whether that might be an option for you.
An Attorney That Can Help You Through This Crisis
We understand what an incredibly stressful ordeal you are going through. It is our job to help relieve your stress—not to add to it. We know that you’re looking for peace of mind and here is how Flaherty & Merrifield will help you achieve it:
- During our free consultation, we will discuss your case in detail, get all your questions answered, and give you a clear outline of how we plan to defend you.
- We offer a Flat Fee Guarantee and we will give it to you in writing. This means you will know, up front, exactly how much our representation will cost, with no hidden costs or surprises.
- We will explain your upcoming court dates and what will be expected of you.
- We will keep you regularly updated on the status of your case.
- We will explain all of your options to you, with enough time to think about it before having to make a final decision.
Call your Okaloosa County Domestic Violence Attorney
If you have been accused of domestic violence in Fort Walton Beach, call Flaherty & Merrifield at (850) 243-6097 for a free, confidential case review.