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Women Facing Domestic Violence Charges In Florida
Stereotypically, one thinks of domestic abuse as a crime committed by men against their wives. However, between a shift in gender roles in the United States and an expansion of the definition of domestic violence, more and more women are being accused of domestic violence. While anyone whose conduct fits the definition of domestic violence in Florida should face charges for what they have done, women accused of domestic abuse crimes may face slightly different issues than men or people of other genders. If you are female and have been accused of domestic violence, an experienced attorney can help ensure your rights are protected.
Law Enforcement Bias Can Be A Problem
Florida law enforcement, upon responding to a domestic abuse call, have the option not to arrest anyone if they lack probable cause. However, it is not uncommon for law enforcement to handle these calls incorrectly, due to implicit or explicit stereotypes or biases. For example, if law enforcement gets to a call where both parties allege abuse, but only one of them is visibly injured, the officers will usually arrest the person who appears uninjured, whether they actually are or not. Sometimes they may simply believe the story of the party who speaks first.
The perception of domestic violence within a certain police department may also color the way a female defendant is treated, especially if she can assert a valid self-defense claim. Brittany Smith killed the man who sexually assaulted her in Alabama in 2018 during a fight in which he attacked her and a male friend. She was charged with murder within 48 hours, despite her and her friend’s testimony as to being in imminent danger, as well as the serious physical signs of the sexual assault still present. The county sheriff’s office had a history of downplaying or outright ignoring cases of domestic violence against female victims, but has continued to play a role in prosecuting Ms. Smith aggressively.
If You Are Charged
Regardless of gender, a defendant is guilty of domestic violence if they have committed “any criminal offense resulting in injury or death” to a family or household member of theirs – examples include assault, battery, kidnapping, sexual assault, or false imprisonment. That said, you are entitled to your day in court, and there are defenses that you may be able to use to tell your side of the story. Some include self-defense, or arguing that the allegations against you are false.
Another one of the most common is the well-known “stand your ground” defense, which may be available to you if you are accused of injuring or killing your abuser. That said, studies have shown that in Florida, the stand-your-ground defense is somewhat less effective for women, for a variety of reasons – data estimate that women who assert the stand-your-ground defense are convicted 80 percent of the time. Having an experienced attorney on your side can be a crucial difference in how your case is handled.
Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
Being accused of domestic violence is an intimidating experience for anyone, but female defendants can sometimes face added hurdles in ensuring they get their day in court. If you have been charged with a domestic violence crime in Florida, the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can offer compassionate and dedicated representation during this frightening time in your life. Contact our offices today to speak to an attorney.