Nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience physical violence in a relationship at some point in their lives. In fact, domestic violence accounts for about a quarter of all violent victimization. Domestic violence can take many forms. In addition to physical violence, it can involve sexual, verbal, or psychological abuse.
When a domestic violence accusation is made in a marriage, it's not uncommon for both spouses to accuse the other of abuse. These cases can be complex and sometimes both parties are arrested if there is evidence of a physical altercation while evidence is collected to determine who is at fault. The following is a general guideline to the legal steps that occur after domestic violence claims are made.
If you or a loved one is a victim of domestic violence and you need help seeking a restraining order for the safety of your family, contact our firm at (863) 644-5566.
Police are often the first responders to a domestic violence claim, usually when someone makes a 911 call. In many cases, at least one spouse will be arrested if the police have a reasonable belief that an assault occurred, the victim was in fear of imminent harm, or there was an assault that resulted in bodily injury.
Sometimes, the spouse who called 911 initially may be arrested as well if there are claims of domestic violence by the other party. The 911 merely sets the stage for police to respond and investigate what happened. If both spouses accuse each other of domestic violence, the responding officers will take statements from everyone present and attempt to determine if a crime has been committed.
In some instances, both spouses may claim they were a victim, in which case the police will try to determine who was the primary aggressor. Police may consider the extent of injuries to both people, a history of domestic violence between the spouses, witness statements, the nature of the wounds, and any other relevant facts.
An alleged victim of domestic violence typically will need to address the court to have a no-contact order (NCO) issued. An NCO may be issued when there is probable cause to believe an assault or domestic violence offense has been committed. A domestic violence victim can request the NCO but the court may also order one regardless of if an alleged victim requests one.
A no-contact order is a type of injunction in Florida, also known as a restraining order. This order is used in criminal cases before a defendant has a trial and it prohibits the defendant from initiating contact with an alleged victim. An NCO prohibits all types of communication, including in-person contact, emails, calls, texts, and social media contact.
If you have an NCO filed against you, it's important not to violate the injunction. Violating this order is a first-degree misdemeanor and you may face significant jail time for multiple violations. You may also have your bond revoked and be required to await trial in jail.
About two weeks after an injunction is issued, there will be a return hearing. At this point, both sides in the case can present their argument. The court can choose to throw out the injunction or leave it in place.
Many parties are involved in collecting evidence in a domestic violence case. This begins with the initial police report which may include details about visible injuries on both parties, statements from both parties, and the officer's opinion as to whom was the primary aggressor. Photographs may be taken by police or at a hospital. The 911 emergency call can be used as evidence by the prosecutor as well as any prior criminal history by both parties.
If the case goes to trial, this evidence will be used to prove the defendant is guilty. Either or both spouses may also work with a family law attorney to prove their version of events.
What the Criminal Charges Entail
In most cases, reported domestic violence results in the arrest of at least one of the parties who is believed to be the primary aggressor. After the arrest, the defendant will see a judge during the first appearance detainer to determine the conditions for release and whether an injunction will be issued.
Without a plea, the case will go to court. In Florida, someone convicted of domestic violence faces up to 1 year in jail and up to 1 year of probation as well as hefty fines. Domestic battery convictions can also result in a minimum of five days in jail if an injury occurred, mandatory Batterers Intervention, and a permanent criminal record.
During the court case, both spouses can have the opportunity to present their side of the story. Evidence can be introduced to further establish who was the aggressor, even when both parties claim to be the sole victim.
This is important in cases "victim-defendants," or domestic violence defendants who have been victims of ongoing domestic violence by a spouse, as prior history and testimony from friends and family members can be used to establish which version of events is factual.
Contact an Experienced Bartow Domestic Violence Attorney
Allegations of domestic violence are always taken seriously in Florida courts. Whether you have been the victim of domestic violence or you are facing false accusations from a spouse, it's important to seek counsel from an experienced family law attorney.
Advocate Law Firm, P.A. represents Bartow, Florida domestic violence victims, and defendants in issues such as protective injunctions, child custody, and divorce. We can help determine what the best route is in order to protect the safety and rights of you and your family.
Contact Advocate Law Firm, P.A. at (863) 644-5566 to schedule a free consultation to review your case.