Understanding domestic violence charges in the state of Florida

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Domestic violence is a serious criminal offense in Florida, which carries potentially severe consequences, including probation or jail time.

From time to time, people in Orlando, and throughout Florida, may have disagreements with family members, spouses and those they live with. If tempers flare and passions ignite, causing such arguments to become loud or physical, however, law enforcement may be called, which could lead to serious criminal charges. In fact, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported that there were more than 64,000 domestic violence-related arrests in 2014 alone. It is important for people to understand domestic violence charges to help protect their rights if they are ever involved in a domestic dispute.

What is domestic violence?

When people think of domestic violence, physical assaults are often what come to mind. However, these charges are far-reaching, and may encompass a range of other criminal offenses. In addition to physical abuse, domestic violence may include the following:

• Sexual assault and battery

• Stalking

• Kidnapping

• False imprisonment

Under Florida state law, these situations may be considered domestic violence if they result in the injury or death of someone a person is or has lived with, is related to, is or was married to, or with whom he or she shares a child with.

Potential penalties

If convicted of domestic violence, people could face a number of potentially severe legal consequences. The penalties they may receive, and the severity of those penalties, are dependent on a number of factors, including their previous criminal records. In general, those convicted of this offense may be sentenced to up to one year of probation, or up to one year in jail. Additionally, they could lose their right to own or possess firearms. For many people, domestic violence convictions also cost them the ability to have their criminal records sealed or expunged.

Beyond facing incarceration, people may also be ordered to complete a 26-week long anger management class if they are convicted of these charges. Typically, they are required to pay for these programs themselves. Furthermore, those convicted of domestic violence may also be ordered not to have contact with the alleged victim, or victims. As a result, they may not be able to enter their own homes or visit their children.

Obtain legal representation

In addition to the potential legal ramifications, domestic violence charges in Florida can also have long-term implications on people's personal and professional lives. As such, those who have been charged with this, or similar charges, may benefit from working with an attorney. A legal representative may offer guidance, as well as help defend them against the charges they are facing.