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Do Domestic Violence Diversion Programs Exist In Florida?
Domestic violence is a crime taken very seriously in Florida, given the amount of harm it can do not only to the victim, but to everyone around them. These cases are prosecuted aggressively, with plea-bargains few and far between. That said, there are rare offenders who may qualify for what is known as a diversion program. Not every Florida county has one, but for those that do, it can offer people an alternative to jail time.
An Alternative To Jail
In Florida, domestic violence is defined as any criminal offense that results in physical injury or death to one of the perpetrator’s family or household members. (“Family or household members” can include not only spouses, but also ex-spouses, people with a child in common, anyone related by blood or marriage, and others.) There is no specific ‘crime of domestic violence’ in Florida law; rather, people are charged with the underlying offense, with domestic violence being used as a sentencing enhancement.
Normally, the standard criminal court system applies: a person is put on trial and convicted or acquitted (or strikes a plea-bargain, though this is rare in domestic violence cases). Diversion programs are intended to offer some the chance to potentially avoid the consequences of conviction. They substitute classes like anger management for jail time, and if the program is successfully completed, the charges are dropped.
Only Certain Offenders Eligible
In order to be eligible for a domestic violence diversion program, there are specific criteria someone must either meet or avoid. For example, a person must be a first-time offender in order to be eligible. However, if they have violated a domestic violence injunction, or if their alleged offense involved choking or strangling the victim, they are automatically ineligible for diversion even if they have never been in trouble with the law before.
As of this writing, Palm Beach County does not have a diversion program for domestic violence offenders. The most well known is in Broward County, but other areas may have their own. If you are accepted, though, it is important to keep in mind that it is possible to fail a diversion program. If this happens to you, the charges will be reinstated and you would navigate the standard criminal process as before.
Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
A diversion program is generally intended to offer certain offenders a chance to avoid prison, as well as to free up space on district court dockets. If you have been charged with domestic violence and believe you may be eligible for a diversion program in your county, contacting a West Palm Beach criminal attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help you determine how to proceed. Contact our office today to speak to an attorney.