Possible Prison Sentences After A Domestic Violence Conviction
As one might imagine, the best way to avoid a domestic violence conviction in Florida is to not commit domestic violence. If you have been arrested and charged with a domestic violence offense, know that you are facing jail time if convicted – however, the law can be somewhat misleading to someone who has never been in trouble before. The relevant Florida statute sets a minimum of 10 days in jail for a convicted domestic abuser – but nothing in the statute establishes a maximum term.
Minimum and Maximum Sentences
Florida’s domestic violence definition encompasses any criminal offense that “results in physical injury or death” to a family or household member, perpetrated by another family or household member. It is important to understand that domestic violence is used as a sentencing enhancement, rather than charged as a crime in itself – if a person commits battery, for example, in a domestic violence context, they will be charged with battery, and potentially have to serve Florida’s recommended sentence for battery if convicted.
This can be somewhat confusing to first-time defendants, because too many hear the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days in jail upon conviction as a maximum, but sentences for misdemeanor crimes in Florida can carry up to 1 year in jail, while jail time for felony conviction can be anywhere from 3 years to life, depending on the specifics of the case. Crimes of domestic violence are taken extremely seriously by state’s attorneys, because domestic violence is seen not as a private matter, but as a phenomenon which can affect society as a whole.
Unique Circumstances May Apply
Be advised that mandatory minimum sentences are in force in Florida for many crimes of domestic violence; this means that if you are convicted, the judge has little to no discretion in terms of the sentence they must impose. For example, a charge of assault with a deadly weapon carries a mandatory minimum of 3 years in prison, but the sentence may be far more harsh depending on the specifics of your case.
Another factor to keep in mind is that under Florida law, jail time in a domestic violence case is mandatory if your alleged offense was witnessed by a minor under the age of 16. The law on this recommends a minimum of 15 days in jail, though just like with an alleged offense that was not committed in front of children, a judge has the ability to sentence you to more time if they believe that it would be appropriate.
Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
If you have been charged with a crime of domestic violence, the obvious focus should be on establishing your innocence. However, it is always a good idea to be aware of the high stakes in these kinds of cases, and to ensure that you have knowledgeable legal help on your side. A West Palm Beach criminal attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help ensure your rights are protected in court. Contact our office today at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney.