What Constitutes a Domestic Violence Charge?
Posted on September 16, 2019 8:00 AM EST
Domestic violence (DV) cases are very common. The cases can range from misdemeanors to felonies depending on the facts. DV cases occur in all walks of life and occur across the county. These types of cases are not dependent on socioeconomics, culture, or race. The allegations typically allege physical violence or threats made to another. What distinguishes a DV case from a "regular" case? DV cases requires a relationship between the defendant and the victim. Included in this group are spouses, ex-spouses, blood relations, even children and step-children, as long as they share a residence with the parent or parents. The criminal lawyers at DMT have represented hundreds of defendants charged with some form of domestic violence. DMT also represents clients that are served with domestic violation injunctions. While injunctions are civil cases, they usually stem from the same set of facts that led to the arrest. The injunction cases are heard in civil court by judges. The two main difference between the criminal and civil cases is the burden of proof. The burden of proof in a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt (a very high standard) and in civil cases by the preponderance of the evidence (a much lower standard).
The most typical type of DV case is a misdemeanor battery charge. The offense is punishable up to a year in the Miami-Dade County jail. It is rare for a defendant to receive this type of sentence. As long as a defendant has no prior record, the State of Florida will usually offer a pre-trial diversion (PTD) program. The program typically last 6 to 9 months. Defendants are required to attend and successfully complete the Batter's Intervention Program (BIP). Once completed, the state will nolle pros or dismiss the case. Defendants with priors will typically be offered a year of probation, but will also be required to complete BIP. The state may also require the defendant to complete community service hours. You are not required to do any of those things and can elect to go trial. The lawyers at DMT have tried hundreds of cases throughout their careers.
Anyone arrested on a DV case will not be able to post bond prior to seeing a judge. The reason for this is that the judge is required to issue a Stay Away Order (SAO) from the victim. Until the judge issues the SAO, a defendant cannot bond out of jail. A SAO order also known as a no contact order, is a mandate from the judge that the defendant will not have any contact with the victim. An SAO means more than just physical contact with the victim. It prohibits text messages, e-mails, and phone calls. It also prohibits third-party contact. That means the defendant cannot have a third party contact with the victim by any of the means mentioned above. The SAO acts like an injunction, but is issued by a criminal judge. Once PTD or probation is completed, the SAO will be dissolved as the court no longer has jurisdiction over a defendant. However, a civil injunction can last beyond the completion of the case because it was issued by a civil judge and is not tied to the criminal case.
Individuals charged with a DV case have many defenses at their disposal. Self-defense is a possible defense if the victim was the initiator of the violence. Another possible defense is the defense of others if the defendant stepped in to protect a third person from the alleged victim. The most important thing that a person charged with a DV case must do is retain an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible in order to develop a defense strategy at the onset of the case. The defense attorneys at DMT have successfully represented defendants charged in DV cases and on many occasions succeeded in having the charges dropped or reduced. Bear in mind that the facts in every case are different, which can result in different outcomes. DMT will zealously fight to protect your rights and achieve the best possible result. If necessary, we are prepared to go to trial and win your case in the event negotiations with state are not in our client's best interests.
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