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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Affirmative Defenses To Domestic Violence Charges

Affirmative Defenses To Domestic Violence Charges


Domestic violence is not one specific crime in Florida; rather, several different criminal offenses can be judged as ‘crimes of domestic violence’ on a case-by-case basis. That said, regardless of what crime you were charged with, you have the right to your day in court, and your attorney can use what are called affirmative defenses to try and argue against a guilty verdict. There are several different affirmative defenses that can be used in domestic violence cases, though not all of them will fit your situation.

High Stakes Require Defense

The Florida statute on domestic violence specifies a list of crimes that qualify, such as assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, and stalking, but expands the criteria to “any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death” to a “family or household member,” perpetrated by another family or household member. A family or household member can be not only a spouse or child, but also a co-parent, another family member related by blood or marriage, or someone with whom you lived (or are still living) as a family.

If you have been charged with domestic violence against a family or household member, be aware that the stakes are quite high. A conviction can result in fines and jail time, but it can also ruin your reputation and, potentially, your future prospects. Crimes of domestic violence cannot be expunged in Florida, which means that potential landlords or employers will be able to see the conviction on any criminal background check they conduct. Affirmative defenses may keep your criminal record clear.

Affirmative Defenses May Apply

There are several different potential defenses that may be appropriate in your case, and under Florida law, you may be able to assert more than one at a time if they are applicable. Examples of affirmative defenses used in domestic violence cases include:

  • The crimes that Florida prosecutors will charge as domestic violence offenses almost all require intent to be established – for example, battery requires the aggressor to ‘intentionally’ injure their victim. If you accidentally caused an injury to your alleged victim, you cannot be convicted of that crime.
  • Self-defense. It may be difficult to establish that your alleged victim acted first, or that you were defending yourself, unless you have visible injuries. However, Florida is a stand-your-ground state, which means that if you were defending yourself or property, you had no duty to retreat.
  • Improper law enforcement behavior. Depending on the situation, you may argue that you should not have been arrested or that an improper search was undertaken.

Call A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

If you believe that you may be able to assert an affirmative defense in your domestic violence case, your first call should be to a West Palm Beach criminal attorney from the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A., as our firm has years of experience in these matters. We are happy to try and assist you with your case. Call our offices today at (561) 721-0552 to speak to an attorney.



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