Batterers’ Intervention In Domestic Violence Cases
If you have been charged with a crime in Florida, there are many different ways that your case can be resolved. However, unless you are found not guilty, you will likely be required to follow certain requirements as a condition of probation. When dealing with domestic violence crimes, the court is fairly uniform in ordering anyone not found guilty to attend a batterers’ intervention (BI) program. Completing a BI program is required to move forward with probation, and failure to do so can lead to violations, fines, and in some cases, more jail time.
Beneficial (But Expensive)
It is not only those found guilty who may be ordered to attend a BI program, but rather, anyone who pled nolo contendere (no contest) to their charges, or anyone who has had adjudication withheld (that is, has been granted probation instead of a jail sentence, with the charge being dropped if the person successfully completes probation) will also be required to do so. The rationale is that while a person may be able to plea-bargain away a jail sentence or conviction, they must still face the consequences of their alleged actions. It is also very often a consequence of a plea-bargain.
The intent of BI programs are positive; the aim is to give batterers and alleged batterers better tools to solve problems that can hopefully help them avoid violence and break the cycle of family violence. However, it is important to keep in mind that they can get expensive, between fees and other expenses like transport. BI programs are required to last between 26 and 29 weeks, and participants are expected to pay per session, though your criminal defense attorney may be able to help you negotiate a different rate or find a sliding scale option if necessary.
Sentences Can Be Severe
In Florida, one is not charged with domestic violence per se; rather, they are charged with the underlying offense (such as battery or attempted murder) and domestic violence is used as a sentence enhancement, making a third-degree felony into a second-degree crime, and so on. Because of this, it may be hard to determine what potential sentence you may face, though you may know it is serious – for example, a charge of attempted murder may land you in prison for decades.
This is why failing to complete a BI program while on probation can be catastrophic – it will generally result in a probation violation, which can lead to incarceration. Intent is irrelevant – if you fail to complete the BI program because of an inability to pay, it is seen as the same failure as if you simply refused to continue. If you are facing issues attending your BI program, calling an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial, so that you do not wind up behind bars.
Call A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is crucial that you work within the process to try and have a chance to rebuild your life. Batterers’ intervention programs aim to help you do just that – but if you are having problems attending, or if you have questions about what may happen in yours, calling a West Palm Beach criminal attorney at Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can help straighten out the situation. Call our offices today to speak to an attorney.