Domestic Violence Committed Against Non-Romantic Partners
Most of the time, when one discusses domestic violence, it is in the context of married couples, or at least between those in romantic relationships. However, Florida’s definition of domestic violence is expansive enough to include not only romantic partners, but ‘family or household members’ as well. If you have acted in a threatening manner against someone who is not your spouse or romantic partner, it may be a surprise when domestic violence charges are leveled against you.
The Law Is Broad
Domestic violence is defined in Florida as any criminal offense – though it singles out particular crimes like sexual assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and stalking – that causes physical injury or death to a family or household member, committed by another family or household member. More specifically, though, it defines ‘family or household member’ not only as a spouse, romantic partner, or minor child, but also as former spouses, anyone related by blood or marriage, co-parents, and people who have resided together as a family or are currently doing so.
This means that essentially, anyone you live with may be considered a victim of domestic violence if you cause them physical injury or death by committing a crime. If you get into a fistfight with your brother who is staying in your home, that may constitute a crime of domestic violence under the law. Also, while Florida law no longer requires police investigating a ‘domestic incident’ call to arrest someone, they can still do so if they believe probable cause exists.
Potential Fallout Is Real
At a minimum, if you are convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, you will serve up to 1 year in jail, plus paying fines and costs. First offenders may receive probation or be permitted to enter into a pretrial diversion program, but if it is not your first conviction, jail or even prison time may result. In most instances, convicted domestic abusers are also required to enroll in batterers’ intervention programs (and bear the costs for such programs), and possibly foot the proverbial bill for other required fees.
In addition, one crucial thing to keep in mind is that if you are allegedly abusive toward your minor children, it is possible that their other parent can obtain a domestic violence injunction against you on the child’s behalf, as well as using your conduct as evidence that it would not be in the child’s best interests to have a relationship with you. While this is likely not the only factor that a court would consider in a custody consideration, it is a significant one you will have to overcome in order to retain your parenting time.
Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
While domestic violence is frowned upon, regardless of the relationship between the two parties, it is important to keep in mind that in Florida, the definition of domestic violence is very broad. If you have questions or concerns about your case, the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. are ready and willing to try and assist you. Call us today at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney.