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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / How Does Florida Prosecute Domestic Violence?

How Does Florida Prosecute Domestic Violence?


Unlike some other U.S. states, Florida does not have a single criminal offense called ‘domestic violence’ on its books. Rather, domestic violence is seen as an umbrella under which individual offenses can acquire a ‘domestic’ character. If you have been charged with a criminal offense that may rise to the level of domestic violence, it is important for you to understand exactly how the state will prosecute these types of crimes.

A Fairly Broad Definition

Florida’s domestic violence statute includes any crime that results in “physical injury or death” to a person who is a “family or household member” of the alleged perpetrator – not only spouses, but also ex-spouses, co-parents, and people who were or are ‘residing together as a family.’ This does not, notably, include dating relationships when the parties do not live together, but violence in those relationships may be tried under other laws.

The statute does list several different criminal offenses that qualify as domestic violence, including assault, sexual battery, kidnapping, and false imprisonment. However, these crimes are meant as examples, rather than as an exhaustive list – the plain language of the rest of the statute indicates that if a crime causes physical injury or death to a covered person, it counts as domestic violence in Florida.

Sentencing Will Be Stricter

In Florida, charging a person with a crime of domestic violence means charging them with the underlying offense. Rather than prosecuting one specific offense of ‘domestic violence,’ Florida law uses the presence of such a factor as a potential sentence enhancement. If someone is convicted of simple assault, for example, the offense is a second-degree misdemeanor, usually punishable by up to 60 days in jail. If the assault happened as a crime of domestic violence, it may be tried as a first-degree misdemeanor or third-degree felony, which carry much longer sentences.

Keep in mind that Florida does still enforce mandatory minimum sentences for many crimes, including domestic battery. If you are convicted, you may be required to spend a minimum amount of time in jail, with no possibility of parole – for example, misdemeanor domestic battery carries a minimum of 1 year in jail, while felony domestic battery has a minimum of 3 years.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

Of course, the best way to avoid a domestic violence conviction is to refrain from committing acts that are violent – but if you have been charged with this type of offense, the next best way to avoid a conviction is to enlist a knowledgeable attorney. A West Palm Beach criminal attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. is ready and willing to try and assist you with your case. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.



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