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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Defending Against Florida Domestic Violence Charges

Defending Against Florida Domestic Violence Charges


If you have been arrested and charged with domestic violence, know that you have the right to assert a defense in court – in some cases, multiple defenses may apply. However, some defenses to domestic violence can backfire, making your case all that much harder to win. An experienced domestic violence defense attorney can help ensure that you pursue the strategy that has the highest chance for you to prevail in court.

Domestic Violence Strictly Defined

In Florida, domestic violence has a very specific definition; it is characterized as any criminal offense that causes physical injury or death to a “family or household member,” committed by another family or household member. What this means is that you will not generally be charged with ‘domestic violence;’ rather, you will be charged with the underlying offense (for example, battery) and domestic violence is used as a sentencing enhancement of sorts.

A conviction will not only mean jail time, but it also will require you to attend a batterers’ intervention program, to say nothing of inflicting more long-reaching consequences. For example, a domestic violence conviction cannot be expunged; any potential employer or landlord may, in theory, see it on your record during a background check. If you have been charged with a domestic violence offense, the stakes are very high and it is definitely in your best interests to assert the most robust possible defense. 

Attack & Defense

While there are several different potential defenses one can argue if they have been charged with a crime of domestic violence, many of them do involve casting doubt on the credibility of the alleged victim. It is important to keep in mind that no matter how malevolent the alleged victim’s aims really are, they must be treated with respect instead of trying to assassinate their character. Juries are generally more disposed to believe an alleged victim unless they are blatantly lying about events, but it is still possible to cast doubt on their story with facts.

Besides alleging factual discrepancies, the most common defense one can assert against a charge of domestic violence is self-defense (or defense of others). Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is commonly invoked in such cases; unlike in many other states, there is no duty to retreat from an attacker if you are (1) in a place where you have the right to be; and (2) not engaged in any kind of criminal activity. If you were attacked in your home, for example, state law will generally allow you to use force against the attacker (though if the attacker is your spouse, they also have a right to be in the home, which can complicate matters).

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

Being charged with domestic violence can be very frightening, particularly if there are extenuating circumstances surrounding the incident. You need an experienced West Palm Beach criminal attorney from the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. to ensure that your rights are protected in court. Call our offices today to speak to an attorney.



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