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What are the consequences of domestic violence charges in Florida?

Sometimes, family members, current or former romantic partners, or housemates in Florida may have disputes. However, physical or threatening arguments could be viewed as domestic violence. In fact, there were over 106,000 domestic violence-related offenses reported across the state in 2014, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Many such reports result in arrests with potentially life-changing implications.

What is domestic violence?

Florida law specifies a number of actions that may be considered domestic violence if they occur involving a family or household member and result in physical injury or death. This includes stalking or aggravated stalking, false imprisonment, kidnapping, assault or aggravated assault, battery or aggravated battery, sexual assault or battery, and other criminal offenses. For the purposes of the law, family or household members are defined as current or former spouses or partners, people who have a child in common, or those who are related by blood or marriage. Except for people who share a child, only those who have previously lived, or are presently residing, together are considered family or household members.

Jail or prison

The most serious potential penalty associated with domestic violence-related charges is jail or prison time. Florida law specifies that a person convicted of domestic violence for intentionally caused bodily harm to another person must serve a minimum of five days in county jail. The duration of their sentence may be extended based on the circumstances, however. For example, a person may be sentenced to at least 15 years in prison if he or she is convicted of aggravated domestic battery.

Counseling

As a part of their sentence or probation requirements, people who are convicted of domestic violence may be ordered to participate in family violence counseling. These types of programs may take up to six months to complete and may include a psychological evaluation, treatment and education. With few exceptions, those sentenced are responsible for the costs of family violence counseling and other such programs.

No contact orders

Due to restraining orders or as a part of their probation terms, after a domestic violence conviction, people may not be allowed to have contact with their alleged victims. No contact orders may be placed for a short period of time, or for longer durations. As a result of these types of orders, people may be prevented from returning to their own homes and seeing their children. Additionally, no contact orders may impede their ability to rebuild the relationships with their involved family members.

Limitations on firearm rights

After a criminal conviction, people may lose certain privileges. Florida law requires the concealed weapon licenses of those who have been convicted of domestic violence to be suspended. Furthermore, federal law prohibits people from owning, possessing or using a firearm after a domestic violence conviction.

Obtaining legal representation

Domestic violence-related offenses are taken seriously in the state of Florida, and therefore, carry hefty consequences. What may have started as a small disagreement could turn into a situation that jeopardizes people’s futures. Thus, those who have been charged with domestic violence may find it helpful to work with an attorney. A lawyer may explain the laws as they apply to their cases and their options, as well as help them to establish a solid defense.

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