Orlando Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with any type of domestic violence in Orlando please contact Chris S. Boatright, P.A. at 407-740-8300 to discuss what options may be available to get your domestic violence charge dismissed or reduced.  Any domestic violence conviction will result in court fees of more than $1,500.00 because any domestic violence conviction requires you to be placed on probation for at least 1 year with no early termination allowed, you must also complete a batterers intervention program which is a 29 week program, pay court costs and if the victim is injured intentionally you must serve at least 5 days in jail.  The alleged victim CANNOT drop the charges, only the State can.  

Former Domestic Violence Prosecutor

As a former domestic violence prosecutor Chris has an understanding of what can be important to the prosecutor in your Orlando domestic violence case.  It is important to understand how the other side works.  Chris uses this understanding to determine what needs to be done to get the best possible outcome in your domestic violence case.  

Orlando Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Since 1999

Chris has been defending individuals in Orlando charged with domestic violence since 1999.  Being an Orlando domestic violence defense lawyer for so long has given Chris the opportunity to spend a lot of time working with the judges and prosecutors in Orlando that handle domestic violence cases like yours.  Experience dealing with those judges and prosecutors is important in achieving the best results in your domestic violence case.  

Different Orlando Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers Get Different Results

When you have been charged with any type of domestic violence in Orlando you need an aggressive, experienced, and knowledgeable lawyer like Chris to defend you.  A domestic violence conviction will stay on your record forever, therefore, it is important to be represented by the right lawyer.  The better prepared you are for your court appearance the more likely it is you will get a favorable outcome.  The best results possible are rarely obtained by just hoping for them.  Get the help you need at Chris S. Boatright, P.A. to get the best results possible.  

Release Conditions

If you have been prohibited from returning to your home and/or prohibited from having contact with the alleged victim you may request the court to modify your release conditions in your domestic violence case.  Unless modified by the court, any conditions of release in your domestic violence case will remain in effect for the duration of your domestic violence case.  As your Orlando domestic violence defense lawyer, Chris can file a motion to modify your release conditions asking the court to allow you to return home and/or have contact with the alleged victim in addition to asking to modify any other special conditions of your release.  

Violation of Domestic Violence Release Conditions

A person who willfully violates a condition of pretrial release provided in Florida Statute  903.047, when the original arrest was for an act of domestic violence as defined in Florida Statute 741.28, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by a maximum of 1 year in jail and/or 1 year on probation and/or a $1,000 fine, and shall be held in custody until his or her first appearance.

Dropping Charges

It is important for you to know that the alleged victim CANNOT drop the charges in your domestic violence case.  In your domestic violence case only the State Attorney’s Office can file charges and only the State Attorney’s Office can drop charges.  There are many reasons why domestic violence charges are not filed by the State Attorney's Officer and many reasons why the State Attorney's Office drops domestic violence charges after they are filed.  The State Attorney’s Office may proceed with the domestic violence charges against you, even without the cooperation of the alleged victim.  The State Attorney's Office files charges in many domestic violence cases where the alleged victim refuses to write a statement, refuses to prosecute and refuses to testify in court.  Do not believe that just because the alleged victim does not want domestic violence charges filed against you that the State Attorney's Office will no file domestic violence charges against you.  The State Attorney's Office decides who gets prosecuted for domestic violence charges NOT the alleged victim.  

Domestic Violence Prosecutors

Each state attorney shall develop special units or assign prosecutors to specialize in the prosecution of domestic violence cases, but such specialization need not be an exclusive area of duty assignment. These prosecutors, specializing in domestic violence cases, and their support staff shall receive training in domestic violence issues.

It is the intent of the Legislature that domestic violence be treated as a criminal act rather than a private matter. For that reason, criminal prosecution shall be the favored method of enforcing compliance with injunctions for protection against domestic violence as both length and severity of sentence for those found to have committed the crime of domestic violence can be greater, thus providing greater protection to victims and better accountability of perpetrators. This provision shall not preclude such enforcement by the court through the use of indirect criminal contempt. The state attorney in each circuit shall adopt a pro-prosecution policy for acts of domestic violence, as defined in Florida Statute 741.28, and an intake policy and procedures coordinated with the clerk of court for violations of injunctions for protection against domestic violence. The filing, nonfiling, or diversion of criminal charges, and the prosecution of violations of injunctions for protection against domestic violence by the state attorney, shall be determined by these specialized prosecutors over the objection of the victim, if necessary.

Prior to a defendant’s first appearance in any charge of domestic violence as defined in Florida Statute 741.28, the State Attorney’s Office shall perform a thorough investigation of the defendant’s history, including, but not limited to: prior arrests for domestic violence, prior arrests for nondomestic charges, prior injunctions for protection against domestic and repeat violence filed listing the defendant as respondent and noting history of other victims, and prior walk-in domestic complaints filed against the defendant. This information shall be presented at first appearance, when setting bond, and when passing sentence, for consideration by the court. When a defendant is arrested for an act of domestic violence, the defendant shall be held in custody until brought before the court for admittance to bail in accordance with chapter 903. In determining bail, the court shall consider the safety of the victim, the victim’s children, and any other person who may be in danger if the defendant is released.

Mandatory Batterers' Intervention Program

If a person is found guilty of, has adjudication withheld on, or pleads nolo contendere to a crime of domestic violence, as defined in Florida Statute 741.28, that person shall be ordered by the court to a minimum term of 1 year’s probation and the court shall order that the defendant attend a batterers’ intervention program as a condition of probation. The court must impose the condition of the batterers’ intervention program for a defendant under this section, but the court, in its discretion, may determine not to impose the condition if it states on the record why a batterers’ intervention program might be inappropriate. The court must impose the condition of the batterers’ intervention program for a defendant placed on probation unless the court determines that the person does not qualify for the batterers’ intervention program pursuant to Florida Statute 741.325. The imposition of probation under this section does not preclude the court from imposing any sentence of imprisonment authorized by Florida Statute 775.082.

The batterers' intervention program shall be at least 29 weeks in length and include 24 weekly sessions, plus appropriate intake, assessment, and orientation programming. The batterers' intervention program shall be funded by user fees paid by the batterers who attend the program, which allows them to take responsibility for their acts of violence. An exception shall be made for local, state, or federal programs that fund batterers’ intervention programs in whole or in part.

Mandatory Jail

If a person is adjudicated guilty of a crime of domestic violence, as defined in Florida Statute 741.28, and the person has intentionally caused bodily harm to another person, the court shall order the person to serve a minimum of 5 days in the county jail as part of the sentence imposed, unless the court sentences the person to a nonsuspended period of incarceration in a state correctional facility. This section does not preclude the court from sentencing the person to probation, community control, or an additional period of incarceration.

Expungement or Sealing of Domestic Violence Charges 

A domestic violence charge as defined in Florida Statute 741.28 may not be expunged if you are convicted.  However, according to Florida Statute 776.09:

(1) Whenever the state attorney or statewide prosecutor dismisses an information, indictment, or other charging document, or decides not to file an information, indictment, or other charging document because of a finding that the person accused acted in lawful self-defense pursuant to the provisions related to the justifiable use of force in this chapter, that finding shall be documented in writing and retained in the files of the state attorney or statewide prosecutor.

(2) Whenever a court dismisses an information, indictment, or other charging document because of a finding that the person accused acted in lawful self-defense pursuant to the provisions related to the justifiable use of force in this chapter, that finding shall be recorded in an order or memorandum, which shall be retained in the court’s records.

(3) Under either condition described in subsection (1) or subsection (2), the person accused may apply for a certificate of eligibility to expunge the associated criminal history record, pursuant to Florida Statute 943.0585(5), notwithstanding the eligibility requirements prescribed in Florida Statute 943.0585(1)(b) or (2).

A domestic violence charge as defined in Florida Statute 741.28 may not be sealed if adjudication is withheld.  

Information About Orlando Domestic Violence Charges

There are many different types of domestic violence charges. The most common types of domestic violence charges prosecuted in Orlando are domestic violence battery, domestic violence battery by strangulation, domestic violence aggravated battery, domestic violence assault and domestic violence aggravated assault charges. 

DEFINITION

Domestic Violence means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.  Family or household member means spouses, former spouses, person related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.  With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.

Domestic Violence Battery

The offense of domestic violence battery occurs when a person actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.  Domestic violence battery is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 1 year in jail and/or 1 year on probation and/or a $1,000 fine.  However, if the person who commits the domestic violence battery has one prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery, or felony battery then that person commits a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and/or 5 years of probation and/or a $5,000 fine.  Battery on a family or household member as defined above and in Florida Statute section 741.28 is considered domestic violence battery.

Domestic Violence Battery By Strangulation

A person commits domestic violence battery by strangulation if the person knowingly and intentionally, against the will of another, impedes the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a family or household member as defined above and in Florida Statute section 741.28 or of a person with whom he or she is in a dating relationship, so as to create a risk of or cause great bodily harm by applying pressure on the throat or neck of the other person or by blocking the nose or mouth of the other person.  Domestic violence battery by strangulation is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and/or 5 years of probation and/or a $5,000 fine.

Domestic Violence Aggravated Battery

A person commits domestic violence aggravated battery who, in committing battery intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement or uses a deadly weapon.  A weapon is a deadly weapon if it is used or threatened to be used in a way likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Domestic violence aggravated battery is a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison and/or 15 years of probation and/or a $10,000 fine.  Domestic violence aggravated Battery on a family or household member as defined above and in Florida Statute section 741.28 is considered domestic violence aggravated battery.

Domestic Violence Assault

Domestic violence assault is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.  Domestic violence assault is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 60 days in jail and/or 6 months probation and/or a $500 fine.  Assault on a family or household member as defined above and in Florida Statute section 741.28 is considered domestic violence assault.

Domestic Violence Aggravated Assault

Domestic violence aggravated assault is an assault with a deadly weapon or with an intent to commit a felony.  A weapon is a deadly weapon if it is used or threatened to be used in a way likely to produce death or great bodily harm.  Domestic violence aggravated assault is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and/or 5 years probation and/or a $5,000 fine.  Aggravated Assault on a family or household member as defined above and in Florida Statute section 741.28 is considered domestic violence aggravated assault.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE STALKING

A person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of stalking, a misdemeanor of the first degree punishable by a maximum of 1 year in jail and/or 1 year on probation and/or a $1,000 fine.

“Harass” means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.

“Course of conduct” means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, which evidences a continuity of purpose. The term does not include constitutionally protected activity such as picketing or other organized protests.

“Credible threat” means a verbal or nonverbal threat, or a combination of the two, including threats delivered by electronic communication or implied by a pattern of conduct, which places the person who is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family members or individuals closely associated with the person, and which is made with the apparent ability to carry out the threat to cause such harm. It is not necessary to prove that the person making the threat had the intent to actually carry out the threat. The present incarceration of the person making the threat is not a bar to prosecution under this section.

“Cyberstalk” means to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.

Domestic Violence Aggravated Stalking

A person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person and makes a credible threat to that person commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and/or 5 years probation and/or a $5,000 fine.

A person who, after an injunction for protection against domestic violence pursuant to Florida Statute. 741.30, or after any other court-imposed prohibition of conduct toward the subject person or that person’s property, knowingly, willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person commits the offense of aggravated stalking, a felony of the third degree punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and/or 5 years probation and/or a $5,000 fine.

“Harass” means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.

“Course of conduct” means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, which evidences a continuity of purpose. The term does not include constitutionally protected activity such as picketing or other organized protests.

“Credible threat” means a verbal or nonverbal threat, or a combination of the two, including threats delivered by electronic communication or implied by a pattern of conduct, which places the person who is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family members or individuals closely associated with the person, and which is made with the apparent ability to carry out the threat to cause such harm. It is not necessary to prove that the person making the threat had the intent to actually carry out the threat. The present incarceration of the person making the threat is not a bar to prosecution under this section.

“Cyberstalk” means to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.

Domestic Violence Kidnapping

A person who kidnaps a person is guilty of a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life.  

The term “kidnapping” means forcibly, secretly, or by threat confining, abducting, or imprisoning another person against her or his will and without lawful authority, with intent to: (1) Hold for ransom or reward or as a shield or hostage (2) Commit or facilitate commission of any felony (3) Inflict bodily harm upon or to terrorize the victim or another person (4) Interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.  

Confinement of a child under the age of 13 is against her or his will within the meaning of this subsection if such confinement is without the consent of her or his parent or legal guardian.

Domestic Violence False Imprisonment

A person who commits the offense of false imprisonment is guilty of a felony of the third degree punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and/or 5 years probation and/or a $5,000 fine.

The term “false imprisonment” means forcibly, by threat, or secretly confining, abducting, imprisoning, or restraining another person without lawful authority and against her or his will.  Confinement of a child under the age of 13 is against her or his will within the meaning of this section if such confinement is without the consent of her or his parent or legal guardian.

Violation of a Domestic Violence Injunction 

A person who willfully violates an injunction for protection against domestic violence issued pursuant to Florida Statute 741.30, or a foreign protection order accorded full faith and credit pursuant to Florida Statute 741.315, by:

1. Refusing to vacate the dwelling that the parties share;

2. Going to, or being within 500 feet of, the petitioner’s residence, school, place of employment, or a specified place frequented regularly by the petitioner and any named family or household member;

3. Committing an act of domestic violence against the petitioner;

4. Committing any other violation of the injunction through an intentional unlawful threat, word, or act to do violence to the petitioner;

5. Telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the petitioner directly or indirectly, unless the injunction specifically allows indirect contact through a third party;

6. Knowingly and intentionally coming within 100 feet of the petitioner’s motor vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is occupied;

7. Defacing or destroying the petitioner’s personal property, including the petitioner’s motor vehicle; or

8. Refusing to surrender firearms or ammunition if ordered to do so by the court

commits a misdemeanor of the first degree,  punishable by a maximum of 1 year in jail and/or 1 year on probation and/or a $1,000 fine, except a person who has two or more prior convictions for violation of an injunction or foreign protection order, and who subsequently commits a violation of any injunction or foreign protection order against the same victim, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and/or 5 years probation and/or a $5,000 fine. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “conviction” means a determination of guilt which is the result of a plea or a trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld or a plea of nolo contendere is entered.

It is a violation of Florida Statute 790.233, and a misdemeanor of the first degree,  punishable by a maximum of 1 year in jail and/or 1 year on probation and/or a $1,000 fine, for a person to violate a final injunction for protection against domestic violence by having in his or her care, custody, possession, or control any firearm or ammunition.

Whether or not there is a criminal prosecution for a violation of a domestic violence injunction, the court shall order the respondent to attend a batterers’ intervention program if it finds a willful violation of a domestic violence injunction, unless the court makes written factual findings in its judgment or order which are based on substantial evidence, stating why a batterers’ intervention program would be inappropriate.

Any person who suffers an injury and/or loss as a result of a violation of an injunction for protection against domestic violence may be awarded economic damages for that injury and/or loss by the court issuing the injunction. Damages includes costs and attorneys’ fees for enforcement of the injunction.

It is the intent of the Florida Legislature that the disabilities regarding possession of firearms and ammunition are consistent with federal law. Accordingly, this paragraph shall not apply to a state or local officer as defined in Florida Statute 943.10(14), holding an active certification, who receives or possesses a firearm or ammunition for use in performing official duties on behalf of the officer’s employing agency, unless otherwise prohibited by the employing agency.

Possession of Firearms and/or Ammunition Prohibited by Domestic Violence Injunctions

A person may not have in his or her care, custody, possession, or control any firearm or ammunition if the person has been issued a final injunction that is currently in force and effect, restraining that person from committing acts of domestic violence, as issued under Florida Statute 741.30 or from committing acts of stalking or cyberstalking, as issued under Florida Statute 784.0485.

A person who violates subsection (1) commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by a maximum of 1 year in jail and/or 1 year on probation and/or a $1,000 fine.

It is the intent of the Florida Legislature that the disabilities regarding possession of firearms and ammunition are consistent with federal law. Accordingly, this section does not apply to a state or local officer as defined in Florida Statute 943.10(14), holding an active certification, who receives or possesses a firearm or ammunition for use in performing official duties on behalf of the officer’s employing agency, unless otherwise prohibited by the employing agency.

Domestic Violence Child Abuse

If you are arrested for domestic violence charges and the incident that caused your arrest happened in front of your child(ren) often times you will be arrested for an additional charge of domestic violence child abuse.  Consequently, normally the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) will be notified of the incident.  This will normally cause DCF to conduct a separate investigation from the criminal domestic violence case.  

A person who knowingly or willfully abuses a child without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child commits a felony of the third degree punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and/or 5 years probation and/or a $5,000 fine.

“Child abuse” means:

1. Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child;

2. An intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child; or

3. Active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child.

“Mental injury” means injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child as evidenced by a discernible and substantial impairment in the ability of the child to function within the normal range of performance and behavior as supported by expert testimony.

Witness Tampering

A person who knowingly uses intimidation or physical force, or threatens another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person, or offers pecuniary benefit or gain to another person, with the intent to cause or induce any person to: withhold testimony; testify untruthfully in an official investigation or an official proceeding; be absent from an official proceeding to which such person has been summoned by legal process; violates Florida Statute section 914.22.

Florida Statute 914.21 Definitions.—As used in Florida Statute 914.22914.24, the term:

(1)  "Bodily injury" means:

(a)  A cut, abrasion, bruise, burn, or disfigurement;

(b)  Physical pain;

(c)  Illness;

(d)  Impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty; or

(e)  Any other injury to the body, no matter how temporary.

(2)  "Misleading conduct" means:

(a)  Knowingly making a false statement;

(b)  Intentionally omitting information from a statement and thereby causing a portion of such statement to be misleading, or intentionally concealing a material fact and thereby creating a false impression by such statement;

(c)  With intent to mislead, knowingly submitting or inviting reliance on a writing or recording that is false, forged, altered, or otherwise lacking in authenticity;

(d)  With intent to mislead, knowingly submitting or inviting reliance on a sample, specimen, map, photograph, boundary mark, or other object that is misleading in a material respect; or

(e)  Knowingly using a trick, scheme, or device with intent to mislead.

(3)  "Official investigation" means any investigation instituted by a law enforcement agency or prosecuting officer of the state or a political subdivision of the state.

(4)  "Official proceeding" means:

(a)  A proceeding before a judge or court or a grand jury;

(b)  A proceeding before the Legislature; or

(c)  A proceeding before a federal agency which is authorized by law.

(5)  "Physical force" means physical action against another and includes confinement.

Florida Statute 914.22 Tampering with or harassing a witness, victim, or informant; penalties.—

(1) A person who knowingly uses intimidation or physical force, or threatens another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person, or offers pecuniary benefit or gain to another person, with intent to cause or induce any person to:

(a) Withhold testimony, or withhold a record, document, or other object, from an official investigation or official proceeding;

(b) Alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal an object with intent to impair the integrity or availability of the object for use in an official investigation or official proceeding;

(c) Evade legal process summoning that person to appear as a witness, or to produce a record, document, or other object, in an official investigation or an official proceeding;

(d) Be absent from an official proceeding to which such person has been summoned by legal process;

(e) Hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer or judge of information relating to the commission or possible commission of an offense or a violation of a condition of probation, parole, or release pending a judicial proceeding; or

(f) Testify untruthfully in an official investigation or an official proceeding,

commits the crime of tampering with a witness, victim, or informant.

(2) Tampering with a witness, victim, or informant is a:

(a) Felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in Florida Statute 775.082, Florida Statute 775.083, or Florida Statute 775.084, where the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a misdemeanor.

(b) Felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in Florida Statute 775.082, Florida Statute 775.083, or Florida Statute 775.084, where the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a third degree felony.

(c) Felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in Florida Statute 775.082, Florida Statute 775.083, or Florida Statute 775.084, where the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a second degree felony.

(d) Felony of the first degree, punishable by a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in Florida Statute 775.082, Florida Statute 775.083, or Florida Statute 775.084, where the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a first degree felony or a first degree felony punishable by a term of years not exceeding life.

(e) Life felony, punishable as provided in Florida Statute 775.082, Florida Statute 775.083, or Florida Statute 775.084, where the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a life or capital felony.

(f) Felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in Florida Statute 775.082, Florida Statute 775.083, or Florida Statute 775.084, where the offense level of the affected official investigation or official proceeding is indeterminable or where the affected official investigation or official proceeding involves a noncriminal investigation or proceeding.

(3) Whoever intentionally harasses another person and thereby hinders, delays, prevents, or dissuades any person from:

(a) Attending or testifying in an official proceeding or cooperating in an official investigation;

(b) Reporting to a law enforcement officer or judge the commission or possible commission of an offense or a violation of a condition of probation, parole, or release pending a judicial proceeding;

(c) Arresting or seeking the arrest of another person in connection with an offense; or

(d) Causing a criminal prosecution, or a parole or probation revocation proceeding, to be sought or instituted, or from assisting in such prosecution or proceeding;

or attempts to do so, commits the crime of harassing a witness, victim, or informant.

(4) Harassing a witness, victim, or informant is a:

(a) Misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in Florida Statute 775.082 or Florida Statute 775.083, where the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a misdemeanor.

(b) Felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in Florida Statute 775.082, Florida Statute 775.083, or Florida Statute 775.084, where the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a third degree felony.

(c) Felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in Florida Statute 775.082, Florida Statute 775.083, or Florida Statute 775.084, where the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a second degree felony.

(d) Felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in Florida Statute 775.082, Florida Statute 775.083, or Florida Statute 775.084, where the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a first degree felony.

(e) Felony of the first degree, punishable by a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in Florida Statute 775.082, Florida Statute 775.083, or Florida Statute 775.084, where the official investigation or official proceeding affected involves the investigation or prosecution of a felony of the first degree punishable by a term of years not exceeding life or a prosecution of a life or capital felony.

(f) Felony of the third degree, punishable as provided inFlorida Statute. 775.082, Florida Statute 775.083, or Florida Statute 775.084, where the offense level of the affected official investigation or official proceeding is indeterminable or where the affected official investigation or official proceeding involves a noncriminal investigation or proceeding.

(5) For the purposes of this section:

(a) An official proceeding need not be pending or about to be instituted at the time of the offense; and

(b) The testimony or the record, document, or other object need not be admissible in evidence or free of a claim of privilege.

(6) In a prosecution for an offense under this section, no state of mind need be proved with respect to the circumstance:

(a) That the official proceeding before a judge, court, grand jury, or government agency is before a judge or court of the state, a state or local grand jury, or a state agency; or

(b) That the judge is a judge of the state or that the law enforcement officer is an officer or employee of the state or a person authorized to act for or on behalf of the state or serving the state as an adviser or consultant.

Florida Statute 914.23 Retaliating against a witness, victim, or informant.—A person who knowingly engages in any conduct that causes bodily injury to another person or damages the tangible property of another person, or threatens to do so, with intent to retaliate against any person for:

(1) The attendance of a witness or party at an official proceeding, or for any testimony given or any record, document, or other object produced by a witness in an official proceeding; or

(2) Any information relating to the commission or possible commission of an offense or a violation of a condition of probation, parole, or release pending a judicial proceeding given by a person to a law enforcement officer; or attempts to do so, is guilty of a criminal offense. If the conduct results in bodily injury, such person is guilty of a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in Florida Statute 775.082, Florida Statute 775.083, or Florida Statute 775.084. Otherwise, such person is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in Florida Statute 775.082, Florida Statute 775.083, or Florida Statute 775.084.

Evidence

In order for the State of Florida to prove you committed the crime of domestic violence, the State need’s evidence.  Normally, the law enforcement officer’s report contains a statement of the evidence against you.  However, there may be other evidence in your case which the law enforcement officer failed to document in the report.  It is essential for you and your attorney to review all of the evidence in your case before preparing your defense.  Some important questions are:

  • Were there any witnesses to the incident and if so did they provide a statement?
  • Did you provide any statements?
  • Was anyone injured?

Constitutional Rights

The United States Constitution and the Florida Constitution both guarantee that people be free from self-incrimination.  In order for a person to give up their privilege against self-incrimination the person must do so freely voluntarily and knowingly and that is why a person is normally advised of their Miranda rights after arrest but prior to any questioning by a law enforcement officer.  It is important for you to know if your privilege against self-incrimination was violated.  If your privilege against self-incrimination was violated evidence in your case may be inadmissible.  Some important questions to consider are:

  •  Were you questioned by a law enforcement officer after you were arrested?
  •  Did you make any statements that are harmful to your case?
  •  Were you read your Miranda rights?

Domestic Violence Defenses

Self Defense And The Defense Of Others

A person is justified in using or threatening to use force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. A person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force.  A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be. 

(1) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using or threatening to use defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:

(a) The person against whom the defensive force was used or threatened was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and

(b) The person who uses or threatens to use defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

(2) The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if:

(a) The person against whom the defensive force is used or threatened has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person; or

(b) The person or persons sought to be removed is a child or grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the person against whom the defensive force is used or threatened; or

(c) The person who uses or threatens to use defensive force is engaged in a criminal activity or is using the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle to further a criminal activity; or

(d) The person against whom the defensive force is used or threatened is a law enforcement officer, as defined in Florida Statute 943.10(14), who enters or attempts to enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using or threatening to use force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer.

(3) A person who is attacked in his or her dwelling, residence, or vehicle has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and use or threaten to use force, including deadly force, if he or she uses or threatens to use force in accordance with Florida Statute 776.012(1) or (2) or Florida Statute 776.031(1) or (2).

(4) A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.

(5) As used in this section, the term:

(a) “Dwelling” means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night.

(b) “Residence” means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as an invited guest.

(c) “Vehicle” means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, which is designed to transport people or property.

A person who uses or threatens to use force as permitted in Florida Statute 776.012, Florida Statute 776.013, or Florida Statute 776.031 is justified in such conduct and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use or threatened use of such force by the person, personal representative, or heirs of the person against whom the force was used or threatened, unless the person against whom force was used or threatened is a law enforcement officer, as defined in Florida Statute 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using or threatening to use force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.  A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use or threatened use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using or threatening to use force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used or threatened was unlawful.  The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).

Use or threatened use of force by aggressor.—The justifications for use or threatened use of force by an aggressor as stated above are not available to a person who:

(1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or

(2) Initially provokes the use or threatened use of force against himself or herself, unless:

(a) Such force or threat of force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use or threatened use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or

(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use or threatened use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use or threatened use of force.

Defense Of Property

A person is justified in using or threatening to use force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent or terminate the other’s trespass on, or other tortious or criminal interference with, either real property other than a dwelling or personal property, lawfully in his or her possession or in the possession of another who is a member of his or her immediate family or household or of a person whose property he or she has a legal duty to protect. A person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force.  A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be.

A person who uses or threatens to use force as permitted in Florida Statute 776.012, Florida Statute 776.013, or Florida Statute 776.031 is justified in such conduct and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use or threatened use of such force by the person, personal representative, or heirs of the person against whom the force was used or threatened, unless the person against whom force was used or threatened is a law enforcement officer, as defined in Florida Statute 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using or threatening to use force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.  A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use or threatened use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using or threatening to use force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used or threatened was unlawful.  The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).

Use or threatened use of force by aggressor.—The justifications for use or threatened use of force by an aggressor as stated above are not available to a person who:

(1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or

(2) Initially provokes the use or threatened use of force against himself or herself, unless:

(a) Such force or threat of force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use or threatened use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or

(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use or threatened use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use or threatened use of force.

Lack Of Injuries

Lack of injuries for conduct which should have normally produced injuries.  

Conflicting Details

Conflicting details in an alleged victim's story about the incident, for instance, alleged victim says the Defendant threw a dinner plate at the alleged victim, that hit the alleged victim and shattered on the tiled kitchen floor, but no dinner place pieces are anywhere to be found, the Defendant allegedly punched a hole in the wall of the bedroom, but there is no hole in the bedroom wall, etc. 

Divorce

Divorce and/or child custody and/or child support and/or alimony issues that are reasons for the alleged victim to make up an incident or exaggerate an indicent. 

False Allegations

False allegations because the alleged victim is actually the one who committed the domestic violence but does not want to go to jail so the alleged victim makes up domestic abuse that never occured.  False allegations because the alleged victim is being kicked out of the home due to relationship problems such as cheating. False allegations because the Defendant cheated on the alleged victim and the alleged victim wants revenge.  False allegations because the alleged victim owes the Defendant money.  

Pre-Trial Diversion

One way to get your domestic violence charge dismissed is by completing a Pre-Trial Diversion program.  Not every domestic violence case is eligible for a Pre-Trial Diversion program.

In Orange County, Florida there are two pretrial diversion programs for domestic violence charges.

Misdemeanor pretrial diversion and felony pretrial diversion.  Each program has its own specific eligibility requirements.

Orange County Pretrial Diversion Program For Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Charges

This is a deferred prosecution program for selected misdemeanor charges and for selected individuals.  This program is offered by the Office of the State Attorney and supervised by Orange County Community Corrections.  Successful completion of the Orange County Misdemeanor Pretrial Diversion Program will result in the dismissal of your charge(s) by the Office of the State Attorney.

Eligibility

  1. You must have no prior sentence, conviction or dismissal for a similar charge, no prior felony convictions, no prior convictions for charges ineligible for diversion, and no prior adult diversion/deferred prosecution programs.
  2. You must be a legal resident of the United States.
  3. You must have no more than one prior misdemeanor conviction.
  4. Your charge(s) must have no more than $1,000 in restitution.
  5. You must be approved by the Office of the State Attorney.

Program Details 

  1. Program length is 12 months
  2. Program cost is $600
  3. Program intake fee is an additional $20
  4. Program drug testing fee is an additional $17
  5. Program phone reporting fee is an additional $6-$7 per month
  6. Program Office of the State Attorney fee is an additional $100
  7. You must perform a minimum of 40 hours of alternative community work service
  8. You will also successfully complete a batterers' intervention program
  9. No contact/no hostile contact with the alleged victim
  10. Additional charge specific special conditions
  11. You are responsible for any additional costs for classes and evaluations

Orange County Pretrial Diversion Program For Felony Domestic Violence Charges

If you successfully complete the Orange County Pretrial Diversion Program the charge(s) you were placed in the program for will be dismissed.

This a 12 month long program with the following requirements:

1.) You must refrain from violation of any federal, state or local law.  If you are arrested or charged with a crime while in the pretrial diversion program, you are subject to automatic revocation whether the crime occurred before or after the signing of the pretrial diversion contract.

2.) You must associate only with law abiding persons.             

3.) You must work regularly at a lawful occupation; or pursue a course of studies as a full-time student, or both.  Employment must be verified by documentation only within the first 30 days of supervision.  Thereafter, employment verification shall be made every other month.

4.) You must take an active part in counseling and attend all scheduled appointments.  You must participate in and be responsible for program costs of any referrals your pretrial diversion officer recommends.  Referrals may include, but are not limited to participation in drug/alcohol counseling, a mental health evaluation, urine screenings, General Equivalency Diploma (GED)  and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

5.) You must immediately inform the Pretrial Diversion Program of any anticipated or unanticipated change in your residence or your employment.  It is your obligation to notify the Pretrial Diversion Program of any change in your address and to comply with residence verification instructions.  Should it be determined that you have moved from your reported residence or changed employment, without notice to the Pretrial Diversion Program, and are no longer able to be contacted through your reported mailing address, you are subject to automatic revocation.  If you have been arrested in this case, you must also notify the Clerk of the Court for Orange County, Florida, preferably in writing, of your address change.  No Out-of-Country Travel will be approved while participating in the Pretrial Diversion Program.  All Notices, summonses, or other mail will be sent to your current address.  If you fail to appear in court due to paperwork being sent to an old address, a warrant may be issued for your arrest, and you may be revoked from the Pretrial Diversion Program.

6.) You will promptly and truthfully answer all questions directed to you by your Pretrial Diversion Program Officer.

7.) You must pay a Cost of Supervision fee of $20.00 a month to the State of Florida as required by Florida Statute Section 948.08 unless otherwise exempted in compliance with the Florida Statutes.  All monies collected by the Florida Department of Corrections will be subject to a 4% surcharge.  There will be a one-time drug testing fee of $30.00.

8.) You will complete 100 hours of Alternative Community Service (ACS).  ACS and all sanctions must be completed sixty days prior to the expiration of this contract or sixty days prior to any subsequent expiration date resulting from an extension or as determined by a Review Board Panel.

9.) Once the Defendant has satisfied all sanctions, early termination is acceptable.

10.) You must pay a $100.00 non-refundable cost of prosecution fee to the State of Florida within 60 days as required by Florida Statute Section 938.27.

11.) Charge specific special conditions. 

12.) You will also submit to random urine screenings for drugs.  Any drug test with a positive result is a violation of the Pretrial Diversion Program Agreement, and may result in additional consequences or revocation from the Pretrial Diversion Program.

In order to be eligible for the Pretrial Diversion Program you must have no criminal history (arrests, convictions, or cases in which adjudication of guilt has been withheld, whether as a juvenile or adult), or if you have a prior criminal history, you must disclose it to the Pretrial Diversion Program.  If it is found that you not been fully candid on this issue, you are subject to revocation from the Pretrial Diversion Program.

If you fail to comply with any of the above conditions, your case may be subject to the following action, depending upon the violation.

  1. Your officer may extend the period of diversion to a term not to exceed 3 months from the date of the Pretrial Diversion Program Contract, or
  2. The Review Board may add additional special conditions or otherwise modify this contract, or
  3.  Revoke the Pretrial Diversion Program contract and the State Attorney will prosecute you for this offense.

    A Review Board comprised of an Assistant State Attorney and a representative of the Florida Department of Corrections, Pretrial Diversion Program, has been established for the purpose of reviewing any proposed revocation or modification of your Pretrial Diversion Program Contract.  Your Pretrial Diversion Officer will attend this hearing.  Modification of your Pretrial Diversion Program Contract may occur if you agree to the modification, by Review Board decision.  At Review Board Hearings, evidence establishing violations of conditions of the Pretrial Diversion Program Contract will be heard.  You will be given notice of this hearing and may attend and present any evidence you have in your defense and/or any evidence you have to establish matters in mitigation.  Failure to appear will result in automatic revocation from the Pretrial Diversion Program.  The Review Board, after hearing and considering all evidence, will render a decision in writing, citing the reasons for that decision.  All members of the Review Board must agree to revocation or modification.  In its written decision, the Review Board will state whether it has decided to revoked the Pretrial Diversion Program Contract or allow the Defendant to continue in the Pretrial Diversion Program.  If the agreement is modified, the modifications made by the Review Board will be stated.  If you are revoked from the Pretrial diversion Program, you will be prosecuted for the original criminal violation.  The Defendant is bound by the decision of the Review Board.  The Pretrial Diversion Contract is an agreement that is a deferral of prosecution.  If the terms of the agreement are met, the initial charge will be dropped and the State of Florida will be barred from prosecution.  If the terms of the agreement are violated, prosecution concerning any charge will proceed.

Orlando Domestic Violence Penalties

A conviction for domestic violence can result in many different penalties.  It is important for you to know what penalties you may be facing.  Some of the penalties for a domestic violence conviction may include:

  • Time in Jail or Prison
  • At least 5 days in jail if adjudicated guilty and intentional bodily harm was caused
  • A mandatory term of 1 year on probation
  • A 29 week counseling program
  • No return to your residence and/or no contact with the alleged victim
  • Community Service, Restitution, Fines and/or Court Costs

*Program fees and costs subject to change without notice*

Overview Of A Domestic Violence Case

What Is The Definition Of Domestic Violence In Florida?

Domestic Violence means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.  Family or household member means spouses, former spouses, person related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.  With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.

Does Someone Have To Go To Jail In A Domestic Violence Case In Florida?

Someone Is Going To Jail

When law enforcement officers respond to a call regarding domestic violence they come with the presumption that someone is going to get arrested and go to jail.  So once the officers arrive it is normally just a matter of figuring out who is going to jail for domestic violence charges.  Contrary to what some people believe who call 911 law enforcement officers do not respond to resolve domestic disputes.  They respond to determine if a crime has been committed and to arrest that person or persons and to take them to jail.  Many times the person who called 911 for assistance in a domestic dispute is the person who ultimately ends up getting arrested and going to jail with domestic violence charges even though the 911 caller is really the victim but the law enforcement officers decided to believe the other person’s story.

The Investigation To Determine Who

When law enforcement officers arrive at the scene of a domestic disturbance they traditionally separate the two people and get their stories.  If the stories do not match and they normally do not match then the officers look for physical evidence like injuries and damage to the surrounding area to try to determine what actually happened and if what happened was a crime and if so who committed that crime.  If someone else was present during the incident other than the two people involved then unfortunately when two stories match and there is no contrary physical evidence to that story then whoever that story says committed a crime is going to jail.  I call this sandbox rules two beats one end of story. Unfortunately, sometimes the third person present is biased toward one of the two people like a family member or friend but that usually does not seem to matter to most law enforcement officers, sandbox rules still apply apparently.  Once they determine that a crime was committed they arrest that person committed a crime.  Sometimes that means both people get arrested.

What Happens During The Booking Process In A Domestic Violence Case In Florida?

The Booking Process

Once a person is arrested for a domestic violence charge in Orlando they are taken to the Orange County jail for booking.  The booking process involves getting biographical information from the arrested person and finger printing and photographing the arrested person.

Mugshot On The Internet

Unfortunately, for anyone arrested there are now many websites that will obtain the information that the person was arrested, what they were arrested for and a copy of their booking photograph more commonly referred to as a mug shot.  What can be done to minimize the availability of this information online will be discussed later.   This is usually the time when the jail will set a bond amount for the arrested person, however, when domestic violence charges are involved a bond cannot be set until the arrested person appears before a judge at an initial appearance.

Contact A Lawyer Immediately

 While the booking process is going on is an important time for someone to contact a lawyer on behalf of the arrested person so that the lawyer will be able to have time to meet with the arrested person and prepare for the initial appearance of the arrested person.

Why Is Someone Held On No Bond For A Domestic Violence Charge In Orlando?

When someone is arrested for on a domestic violence charge in Orlando they are held in jail with no bond because the law requires that anyone arrested on a domestic violence charge be held in jail until the arrested person appears before a judge at an initial appearance.  The initial appearance for the arrested person usually occurs within 24 hours of the arrest.  At the initial appearance the judge can set a bond amount that can be posted so the arrested person can get out of jail or the judge can leave the bond at no bond which means the arrested person cannot get out of jail.  If the judge sets a bond amount for the arrested person for the domestic charge in Orlando that bond amount will normally have conditions attached to it.  This means that the arrested person or someone on their behalf cannot just post the set bond amount and the arrested person gets out of jail the arrested person also has to agree to the additional conditions on the bond.  In Orlando these bond conditions usually include prohibiting the arrested person from having any contact with the alleged victim and prohibiting the arrested person from returning home.  Violation of the bond conditions is a separate crime for which you can be arrested again for and will normally cause the court to revoke the original bond and place you back in jail on no bond until your domestic violence charge is resolved in court.  To determine what the bond amount should be if the judge decides to set a bond the judge will primarily consider the seriousness of the domestic violence charges and the information in the police report prepared by the arresting officer.  However, judges can consider additional information like the prior criminal history of the arrested person, if the arrested person has ever failed to appear for court, if the arrested person has any pending criminal charges and if the arrested person is on probation for any criminal charges.

What Happens At Initial Appearance In A Domestic Violence Case In Orlando?

THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT HEARING. 

THE ARRESTED PERSON NEEDS A LAWYER REPRESENTING THEM AT THIS HEARING.

This hearing will determine if the arrested person can get out of jail and if the arrested person will be able to go home and/or have contact with the alleged victim in addition to other restrictions and these restrictions will last until the case is over which can take months.  No contact and/or no return orders in addition to other restrictions from the judge at the initial appearance, which are normal without intervention, can be modified at a later time but it normally takes at least a week and can take much longer.

Within 24 Hours 

The initial appearance is usually less than 24 hours after the person was arrested.  Normally, the person is arrested around midnight and the initial appearance is at 9:00 a.m. that morning.  I know it seems rude to be contacting a criminal defense lawyer in the middle of the night but it is the nature of the job and the initial appearance is an important hearing when domestic violence charges are alleged.  An experienced Orlando criminal defense lawyer who handles domestic violence cases in Orlando on a regular basis like myself should be able to have an impact on if bond is set, how much the bond is and most importantly what the conditions of release are. 

The Judge

At the initial appearance the judge will determine if there is probable cause for the arrest of the person, determine if a bond amount should be set and if so what amount and what conditions will be placed on that bond.   Please understand that in Orlando when you are arrested on domestic violence charges you will normally be given a bond by the judge at the initial appearance but you will also normally be required not to return to your residence and not to have any contact with the alleged victim(s). 

No Contact And No Return Home Until The Case Is Over

These no contact and no return restrictions will remain in place until your case is over which is normally somewhere between 60 to 90 days after the arrest in misdemeanor domestic violence cases and 90 to 120 days in felony domestic violence cases.  Being able to get out of jail but not being able to go home will mean not having anywhere to live for most people, at least in the short term and hotel bills can get expensive quickly.  Once the conditions of your bond are set at the initial appearance they can be modified but only upon proper motion and depending on the schedule of the judge handling the case it can take a minimum of one week to many weeks for your lawyer to get a hearing to modify your bond conditions.  It is understandable that most people would rather sleep in their car than sleep in the jail but neither option is all that desirable.

What Is The Bond For a Domestic Violence Charge In Orlando?

Bonding someone out of jail is a process that most people are unfamiliar with.  Once the judge sets a bond amount and release conditions the arrested person can either post a cash bond or use a bail bonding company.  In Orlando a cash bond is really not a cash bond because the Orange County jail will not accept cash so you have to a money order.  This is usually done at the gas station across the street from the booking and receiving facility at the Orange County jail since it is close and most people are not familiar with the area.  If you choose to use a bail bonding company they charge a fee for their services which is usually 10% of the total bond amount for each charge they bond an arrested person out on but not less than $100.00 for each charge they bond an arrested person out on. So for example if the bond is $1,500.00 then the fee is $150.00 or if the bond is $500.00 then the fee is $100.00.  However, if you have more than one charge the arrested person will have to bond out on each charge so if the bond on one charge is $2,500.00 and $150.00 on another charge then the total fee to the bail bonding company should be $250.00 plus $100.00 which equals $350.00.  Some bail bonding companies will let you pay them over the phone but they usually want you and the arrested person to come to their office to sign paperwork within a few days.  You cannot bond an arrested person out of jail until a bond amount is set so for domestic violence charges that means you cannot bond an arrested person out of jail until after the initial appearance where the judge will normally set a bond amount.  Once a bond amount is set by the judge it usually takes about 3 hours for it to make it into the Orange County jail computer system and the Orange County jail will not accept a cash bond or paperwork from a bail bond company on behalf of an arrested person until the bond shows up in their computer system.  However, one of the benefits I provide my clients is to take the paperwork over to the bail bond company if they are open and meet the person who is going to be paying the bail bonding company there so the bail bonding company can get the paperwork process stated with the correct bail amount(s) so when the bail bond amounts do appear in the Orange County jail computer system the bond can be filed quickly.  People in jail normally like to get out as fast as possible.

Can Someone Return Home After A Domestic Violence Arrest In Florida?

If an arrested person is given a bond for a domestic violence charge that bond will usually also include certain conditions.  In Orlando normally two standard conditions are that the arrested person is not allowed to have contact with the alleged victim the arrested person is not allowed to return home.  If an arrested person is prohibited from contacting the alleged victim and from returning home the judge will normally allow the arrested person if they do bond out of jail to return home one time with a law enforcement officer present to collect personal belongings.  Any restrictions like no contact and or no return will remain in effect until modified or until your case is over.  In order to modify restrictions related to the bond in a case the arrested person or normally the arrested person’s attorney must file a motion to modify bond conditions with the court and set the motion for hearing.

Can The State Pick Up Domestic Violence Charges In Florida?

When someone is arrested the arresting officer will normally list the charge or charges on the police report.  However, no matter what charge or charges the arresting officer list on the police report the Office of the State Attorney is the agency that decides whether to file charges against an arrested person.  To determine if charges will be filed the State Attorney’s Office will review the paperwork submitted by the arresting officer.  According to Florida Statute 741.28 “The state attorney in each circuit shall adopt a pro-prosecution policy for acts of domestic violence”.  Many people believe and are told by others that if the victim does not want to press charges that the State Attorney’s Office will not press charges.  This is not true.  I have been defending people arrested for domestic violence charges in Orlando since 1999 and  I have represented many people arrested in Orlando who the State Attorney’s Office filed domestic violence charges against after the alleged victim indicated that they did not want to press charges.  The State Attorney’s Office will often times attempt to contact the alleged victim to discuss the alleged victim’s wishes but the State Attorney’s Office chooses to go against the wishes of the alleged victim and files charges.

Can The Alleged Victim Drop Domestic Violence Charges In Florida?

THE ALLEGED VICTIM CANNOT DROP DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGES.  Only the State Attorney’s Office can file domestic violence charges and only the State Attorney’s Office can choose to either not file domestic violence charges or to drop domestic violence charges they have already filed.  What the alleged victim wants does not control the State Attorney’s Office decision regarding the filing or dropping of domestic violence charges.  The alleged victim can tell the arresting officer they do not want the person arrested, the alleged victim can refuse to make or write a statement, the alleged victim can show up to the initial appearance and tell the judge they do not want to press domestic violence charges or they want to drop the domestic violence charges, the alleged victim can call and/or write the State Attorney’s Office and tell them they do not want domestic violence charges filed or if they are already filed that they want them dropped.  The alleged victim can even hire a lawyer to prepare a “drop charge affidavit” which is filed with the clerk of courts and provided to the State Attorney’s Office and states that the alleged victim does not want charges filed against the arrested person or if charges are already filed that the alleged victim wants the charges dropped by the State Attorney’s Office.  In cases where all or some of the above-mentioned things happen the State Attorney’s Office still files domestic violence charges because THE ALLEGED VICTIM CANNOT DROP DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGES.

What Happens At A Domestic Violence Charge Arraignment In Orlando?

Arraignment is usually the next court date for an arrested person after the initial appearance unless a motion to modify the bond conditions, usually seeking to modify the no contact and/or no return bond conditions, has been filed and heard prior to the arraignment.  If a person is arrested for a misdemeanor domestic violence charge in Orange County then normally the arraignment is set for approximately 30 days after the arrest date of the person.  If a person is arrested for a felony domestic violence charge then an arraignment court date is not set until the State Attorney’s Office files charges against the arrested person.  Arraignment is the arrested person’s opportunity to answer to the charge(s).  The options are not guilty, guilty or nolo contendere(no contest).  Judges do not normally deal with bond condition modification requests like allowing the arrested person to have contact with the alleged victim and/or to return home.  Judges normally advise the arrested person to file a motion to modify bond conditions and set it for a separate hearing at a future date to discuss any bond condition modifications.

What Is Discovery In A Domestic Violence Case In Florida?

Discovery is a legal process that lawyers use to obtain the evidence against an arrested person.  When someone is arrested the arresting officer will generate a police report which will give the arresting officer’s version of what happened based on the investigation of law enforcement into the alleged incident.  Often times the arrested person will be provided a copy of this police report at the jail.  This police report.  The police report is usually not the only paperwork created as result of someone being arrest for a domestic violence charge.  Other paperwork created may include items like written statements by other law enforcement officers present at the scene written statements by the alleged victim detailing the incident, written statements by witnesses and written statements by the arrested person.  Often times these written statements are just summarized by the arresting officer in the police report and the actual written statements can contain important details needed to defend the arrested person.  In domestic violence cases officers often times take photographs of alleged red marks, bruising and/or injuries on alleged victims and it is important to view these photographs in order to defend the arrested person because the police report can contain descriptions of alleged red marks, bruising and/or injuries that are not visible in the photographs.  Often times a domestic violence charge is the direct result of someone calling 911 and as most people know these calls are recorded.  A 911 call can provide important details about what happened during the incident.  Statements made during a recorded 911 call can be an important part of the defense of the arrested person and a copy of the recorded 911 can be obtained as part of the discovery process.

What Happens At A Pretrial Conference In A Domestic Violence Case?

In Orange County, usually the pretrial conference is the next court appearance after arraignment.  The pretrial conference is an opportunity for your lawyer to discuss your case with the prosecutor and the judge to determine if the case can be resolved without a trial.  Normally, the prosecutor will make a plea offer which can be accepted, rejected or countered.  Sometimes the offer from the prosecutor to resolve the case is a pretrial diversion program.  The pretrial diversion program in a domestic violence case usually is a year long program that requires the payment of fees, the completion of 40 hours of community work service, the completion of a 29 week long batterer’s intervention program in addition to other terms and conditions.  Please the section titled Pretrial Diversion Program for more details on program specifics.  If the pretrial diversion program is successfully completed by the arrested person the State attorney’s Office will drop the charges.  If the arrested person is not able to successfully complete the program then the case is normally set for another pretrial conference for the case to proceed.  If a plea agreement is reached then normally the case will be resolved at the pretrial conference.  If a plea agreement is not reached then the case may be continued to another pretrial conference if the case is not ready for trial or set for trial if the case is ready for trial.

Can You Get Pretrial Diversion For A Domestic Violence Charge In Orlando?

Yes, see above fore Pretrial Diversion information

What Is The Mandatory Minimum Sentence For A Domestic Violence Charge In Florida?

Mandatory 1 Year Of Probation

Mandatory Batterers’ Intervention Program

If a person is found guilty of, has adjudication withheld on, or pleads nolo contendere to a crime of domestic violence, as defined in Florida Statute 741.28, that person shall be ordered by the court to a minimum term of 1 year’s probation and the court shall order that the defendant attend a batterers’ intervention program as a condition of probation. The court must impose the condition of the batterers’ intervention program for a defendant under this section, but the court, in its discretion, may determine not to impose the condition if it states on the record why a batterers’ intervention program might be inappropriate. The court must impose the condition of the batterers’ intervention program for a defendant placed on probation unless the court determines that the person does not qualify for the batterers’ intervention program pursuant to Florida Statute 741.325. The imposition of probation under this section does not preclude the court from imposing any sentence of imprisonment authorized by Florida Statute 775.082.

The batterers' intervention program shall be at least 29 weeks in length and include 24 weekly sessions, plus appropriate intake, assessment, and orientation programming. The batterers' intervention program shall be funded by user fees paid by the batterers who attend the program, which allows them to take responsibility for their acts of violence. An exception shall be made for local, state, or federal programs that fund batterers’ intervention programs in whole or in part.

Mandatory Jail Sentence

Domestic Violence means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.  Family or household member means spouses, former spouses, person related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.  With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.

 

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