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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Children Witnessing Domestic Violence

Children Witnessing Domestic Violence


Crimes of domestic violence are taken very seriously in Florida, but an extra layer of significance is taken on when minor children are involved. Statistics show that over 25 percent of U.S. minor children have been exposed to family violence during their lifetimes, and the effects of this exposure can be profound. Because of this, Florida law treats domestic violence offenses particularly severely if minor children wind up caught in the crossfire.

Causes Real Harm To Children

In general, family violence is seen as more traumatic for minor children to witness than random street violence, simply because the participants are known. However, the exact manifestations of that trauma can be difficult to establish simply because there are so many different ways in which children can experience abuse. For example, a child who experiences physical abuse may wind up experiencing different negatives (such as aggressiveness or sexually precocious behavior) than one who felt obligated to protect their abused parent (who is more statistically likely to be depressed) .

In addition to short-term physical or emotional effects, a child may experience external factors related to domestic abuse that can fundamentally affect their development. Flight from an abusive situation can lead to children losing friends, healthcare, or even their home, all of which have been linked to psychological and emotional trauma later in life. Given the plethora of statistical evidence linking this harm with children experiencing family violence, a person charged with domestic violence offenses will almost always face more serious consequences if minor children are involved.

Potential Consequences Can Be Life-Changing

If you have been charged with a crime of domestic violence, and there is evidence to suggest that minor children have been exposed to that violence, you may face two long-term consequences. The first is, as one might imagine, being convicted of a domestic violence offense. Florida law does not recognize one singular crime called ‘domestic violence;’ rather, the underlying crime (such as assault or kidnapping) is charged, and the presence or absence of domestic violence factors will affect sentencing if the person is found guilty.

The second long-term consequence of a conviction for this type of offense is the possibility that you may lose the right to see your children, either temporarily or permanently. When determining custody of children, Florida courts generally begin from a position that children benefit most when both parents are in the proverbial picture – but if there is evidence that one or both parents have committed domestic violence or child abuse, a rebuttable presumption is created that granting shared custody would be to the detriment of the child.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime of domestic violence, and there is evidence suggesting that minor children have been exposed or victimized, you may face some serious repercussions. However, you are entitled to your day in court – a West Palm Beach criminal attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can ensure your rights are protected during the legal process. Call our office today at (561) 721-0552 to speak to an attorney.



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