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Arrested For Domestic Violence With No Prior Criminal Record?
Domestic violence as defined in Florida is very often a crime of passion, so to speak; it is not out of the realm of possibility that someone who has never been in trouble with the law before may simply see red. If you have acted in this way and now face charges, know that all is not lost; you have the right to your day in court, and the right attorney can assist you. In addition, prosecutors may be more willing to take a plea when a defendant has no prior record, which can improve your chances of avoiding jail time.
No Real “Domestic Violence” Charge
Florida’s domestic violence statute explicitly defines the crime as any criminal offense that results in the physical injury or death of a “family or household member” by another “family or household member.” In turn, “family or household member” is defined by listing the familial relationships that qualify: namely, spouses, former spouses, people related by blood or marriage, co-parents, and other family members related by blood or marriage.
It is important to keep in mind that in Florida, the offense of ‘domestic violence’ is charged not specifically as domestic violence, but as the underlying offense plus an enhancement of sorts if convicted. For example, if you are charged after committing a misdemeanor battery on your spouse, you would likely face more than the standard 1 year in jail that is the usual sentence for misdemeanor battery; more time would likely be added because it was a crime of domestic violence.
Conviction Has Consequences
If you have been charged with a domestic violence-related offense, and have never before had trouble with the law, it can feel overwhelming to realize that conviction can mean not only jail time and a required batterers’ intervention course, but a lifetime of consequences. Domestic violence convictions cannot generally be expunged from adult criminal records, which means that future landlords, bankers, potential employers and others in positions of authority can see the conviction when doing a background check. Many try to plea-bargain out of a conviction, but in general, prosecutors are not in the habit of permitting this, even for first offenders, given the harm domestic violence does to society.
The best option you have in your position is to get the charges dropped, if at all possible. There are several ways to attack this kind of charge, depending on the specifics of your situation – for example, you may be able to allege self-defense, or to show that your alleged victim is vindictive or exaggerating the extent of their injuries. With an experienced attorney on your side, you can at least be certain that your rights will be protected in court.
Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
Domestic violence offenses are treated very seriously, but if you have been charged with one as a first offense, you have the right to your day in court. The West Palm Beach criminal attorneys can help answer your questions and ensure you get the best chance at a fair outcome. Contact our offices today at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney.