||Domestic Violence / Battery|
Tampa Domestic Violence Attorney
If you are a man or a woman charged with domestic violence, contact an experienced criminal attorney to fight your case throughout the Tampa Bay area, including Hillsborough County, Polk County, Pinellas County, or Pasco County, or Hernando County, Florida. Call our office to speak directly with an attorney immediately. If you have been charged with any domestic violence criminal charge, you need an experienced attorney for the following reasons:
- The arrest and prosecution can be used against you in a divorce, family law, or child custody hearing.
- Under Florida law, you are not able to immediately bond out of jail after an arrest for domestic violence because no bond will be set until after you see the judge at first appearance.
- If you do not have an attorney representing you at your first court appearance within 24 hours after your arrest, the court will usually impose a "no contact" provision that will prevent you from returning to your home, seeing you children, or communicating with you spouse even about important financial issues until a motion to modify this condition of your bond is granted after a court hearing.
- The charge itself is considered a "crime of violence" and the mere allegation is extremely serious. Consider the fact that a conviction for any domestic violence offense will cause a lifetime ban of your right to possess a firearm under state and federal law.
- Most importantly, employers may be extremely hesitant to hire or promote anyone who has a domestic violence arrest or conviction on a criminal record.
- Even if you enter a plea of "no contest" and receive a "withhold of adjudication" on misdemeanor or felony charges you will never be able to seal your domestic violence record. This means that any employer will be able to view your mug shot on the law enforcement website and read embarrassing details about your arrest and prosecution on the clerk of court website.
Contact an experienced Tampa domestic violence attorney about all of the collateral consequences that will occur after you enter a plea (even if you are not convicted under Florida law). Call today to speak with experienced domestic violence and domestic battery attorney about an arrest in Tampa or Plant City in Hillsborough County, St. Petersberg or Clearwater in Pinellas County, Lakeland or Bartow in Polk County, New Port Richey or Dade City in Pasco County, or Brooksville in Hernando County, FL.
Domestic Violence Charges are Handled Differently:
The courts in Hillsborough County (and many of the surrounding counties in the Tampa Bay area) funnel misdemeanor domestic violence cases into a special domestic violence division where prosecutors with the State Attorney's Office concentrate on nothing but the prosecution of these unique cases.
Potential Sentencing Options upon a Plea of Guilty or "No Contest":
- Incarceration or a Lengthy Probation Sentence;
- Completion of a Batterers Intervention Program (26-29 week course);
- Successful Completion of Community Service Hours;
- "No Contact" with the Alleged Victim or "No Violent Contact"- a violation of this condition can cause an arrest without bond for Violation of Probation and a separate charge of Felony Aggravated Stalking.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
· I have been arrested, what do I need to do now to protect myself?
· What if a Restraining Order Was Filed Against Me After My Arrest?
· Should I represent myself against a domestic violence charge?
· I was falsely accused, why did the police make an arrest?
· What if the alleged victim does not want to prosecute?
· What if the alleged victim does want to prosecute?
· What are typical punishments for Domestic Battery?
· What is the Batterers' Intervention Program?
· Defending Women Against False Allegations of Domestic Violence
· Other related Domestic Violence charges in Florida
Domestic Violence Frequently Asked Questions
I have been arrested, what do I need to do now to protect myself?
1. Take Pictures of Your Injuries
If you have been injured during the incident in any way, take several pictures of the injuries as soon as possible. Even if the police took pictures at the time of the arrest, take your own pictures because the officer that arrested you was probably not motivated to preserve this exculpatory or favorable evidence.
Take lots of pictures, at different angles, and with different lighting. Bruises often get darker the next day, so continue to take pictures of the injuries over the next few days, even as your injuries begin to heal. Keep the photographs in a safe location until you can deliver them to your domestic violence attorney.
2. Do Not Violate the "No Contact" Provision
Under Florida law, at your first appearance before the judge the judge will usually impose a "no contact" provision that means that you can not have any contact with the alleged victim in the case. It also means that you can not return to your home, even to collect your clothing and personal effects without a law enforcement officer to accompany you. Do not violate these rules because if you do you could be arrested for violating the court's order and send back to jail without bond.
Even if the alleged victim wants you to return to the home, do not have any contact with the alleged victim until the court has dropped or modified the "no contact" provision. If you wish to have contact with the alleged victim, contact an Tampa domestic violence attorney who can file a Motion to Modify the Bond Conditions to Remove the "No Contact" provision in those cases in which the alleged victim wishes to have contact with you.
3. Consider Modifying the "No Contact" Provision if the Alleged Victim is Attempting to Contact You
The motion to remove the "No Contact" provision can normally be filed on an emergency basis and heard within two business days of the day you retain the firm. Even if the allege victim contacts you and wants to reconcile, only the judge can remove the "No Contact" provision. Do not discuss your desire to have the "No Contact" provision lifted with the alleged victim because any contact - whether by phone, text, letter, or through a third party (except your attorney under certain conditions) violates the "No Contact" provision. Instead, ask your attorney to file the motion to modify and take the appropriate steps to modify or eliminate the "no contact" provision.
4. Again, do not violate the "no contact" order.
Whatever you do, never violate any part of a court order for any reason, even if you are asked or encouraged to do so by the alleged victim.
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What if a Restraining Order Was Filed Against Me After My Arrest?
In Florida, a domestic restraining order is first issued on a temporary basis without the subject of the order being present. A hearing is scheduled, and after the subject of the order receives notice, that person can defend against the continuance of the restraining order on a permanent basis.
If someone has filed a retraining order against you, it is essential to hire an experienced Tampa domestic violence attorney to represent you at the hearings because once the orders are permanent the order can prevent you from seeing your children or returning to your home. Most importantly, it is very easy to violate an order or be falsely accused again and a warrant could be issued for your arrest for a more serious criminal offense such as Aggravated Stalking, or Violation of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order of Protection.
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Should I represent myself?
It may not be in your best interest to represent yourself and simply agree to plead "guilty" or "no contest" just to get it over with. If you enter a plea, the offense of domestic violence battery will be on your criminal record. Even if the court withholds adjudication, you may be sentenced to probation, counseling, and a continued "no contact" or "no violent contact" provision. You will not be eligible to have your record sealed even if you avoid a conviction and agree to probation after a "no contest" plea.
If another false accusation is made against you, you may be arrested for violation of probation, violation of a "no violent contact" condition of your probation, or another additional criminal offense such as aggravated stalking. You may forever have this "crime of violence" on your criminal record unless you take the appropriate steps to defend yourself against this serious allegation. A domestic violence conviction carries with it serious consequences, such as a lifetime ban on your right to possess a firearm. Any arrest for any act of domestic violence is a serious criminal offense with serious criminal consequences that may last a lifetime.
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I was falsely accused, why did the police make an arrest?
When the police respond to a domestic violence call, they often arrive on the scene with an expectation that someone will be arrested. Even in a fight between a husband and wife, or girlfriend and boyfriend, the police are often inclined to make an arrest even if the alleged victim does not want to prosecute. The odds are overwhelming that the person arrested will be male. However, over the past few years the number of women arrested of domestic violence is increasing.
The law enforcement officers involved in these cases have to make very difficult decisions in a very short amount of time. Many times, the police are confronted with conflicting versions of what occurred, and must make a judgment call about which party was the "primary aggressor." The police officers in these cases rarely have access to all of the information about the past difficulties between the parties, including prior acts of domestic violence. In most of these cases there are no other witnesses to the incident other than the parties involved.
The police often confront situations in which one side is intoxicated by alcohol or impaired by a controlled substance. The police deal with situations in which a spouse is using the criminal justice system to gain an advantage in an anticipated child custody or divorce action in Florida. The police also deal with situations in which one person wants another person removed from the residence without realizing that the police will make an arrest based on the allegations.
Finally, the police sometimes tell the parties that one of them or maybe both of them are going to jail which causes the alleged victim to exaggerate the claims against the other party to avoid being arrested. Given all of these difficulties, the police sometimes make serious mistakes when deciding who to arrest when an allegation of domestic violence is made in Florida.
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What if the alleged victim does not want to prosecute?
In many of these cases the alleged victim does not want to prosecute at some point after the arrest. In fact, it is common for the alleged victim to actively seek to reconcile with the defendant after the arrest, even though the court has imposed a "no contact" provision. Regardless of the alleged victim's wishes now, the arrest has already occurred.
The alleged victim has no absolute right to drop the charged, because it is the State Attorney's Office that will prosecute the case. The State Attorney's Office usually prefers to file the charges and let the courts decide whether you are guilty or not.
Of course, your attorney can make sure that the judge and the prosecutor are aware of the alleged victim's wishes. In many of these cases if the person who originally made the complaint no longer considers himself or herself a victim, that can be used to convince the prosecutor to drop the charges. This is especially true if prosecutor can see that you are willing and able to go to trial with a defense attorney that is properly prepared to win the case.
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What if the alleged victim does want to prosecute?
Even in those cases in which the alleged victim does wish to prosecute, all too often false or exaggerated accusations are made out of spite, fear about a pending divorce or child custody battle, or to gain leverage in the relationship. In other cases the false allegations were made because the alleged victim is under the influence of alcohol or impaired by a controlled substance. Finally, the false allegations could be the result of the alleged victim being nervous or terrified of being arrested because the the alleged victims own actions, so the description of the events is false or exaggerated.
Your Tampa criminal defense attorney needs to carefully investigate any evidence to show inconsistencies in the alleged victim's version of events. Additionally, in any self-defense case the past difficulties of the parties, especially any prior incidents where the alleged victim attacked the defendant may be admissible to show the reason why the defendant reacted the way he did on the date of the arrest. Your attorney will need to investigate past incidents of violence between you and the alleged victim to prove the alleged victim's motive for making a false or exaggerated accusations.
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What are some of the typical punishments for someone who enters a plea to Domestic Battery?
Even a misdemeanor charge in of domestic battery (touch or strike) is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail. Although for a first offense without any injury, the courts are most often inclined to impose a twelve (12) month probationary sentence with a special condition that the defendant complete a "Batterer's Intervention Programs."
The batterer' intervention program may be in addition to other conditions such as jail time, probation, restitution, court costs and a fine. Furthermore, under federal and state law it is illegal for the defendant to possess a firearm after a conviction for domestic battery or while subject to a domestic violence injunction.
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What is the Batterers' Intervention Program?
The Batterers' Intervention Program (BIP) is a twenty-six (26) to twenty-nine (29) week intensive program that addresses the causes of domestic violence and the ways to prevent it in the future. In order to successfully complete the Batterers' Intervention Program you must pay for a Intervention Assessment, and then undergo the Assessment.
After the assessment, you must then pay for an orientation, and complete the orientation. Next, you have to attend 26 weeks of classes, and pay for weekly small group counseling sessions (which are usually 90 minutes each) and complete at home assignments in your spare time. If you miss any of the classes you can be kicked out of the program which will cause you to violate probation and be subject to a "no bond" arrest warrant.
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Defending Women Against False Allegations of Domestic Violence
As the enforcement of domestic violence laws has increased, so has the rate at which women are arrested for this offense. Although there are certainly cases in which a woman can commit an act of domestic violence against a man, many of these cases involve false allegations against a woman who has been victimized repeatedly by her partner before being victimized by the system.
If an intimate partner is willing and able to physically abuse a woman, then it is not hard to imagine a circumstance in which an intimate partner would make a false police report. In fact, making false allegations of domestic violence are a form of abuse and control that can be just as damaging if not more damaging then physical abuse.
Women should keep in mind that there are valid defenses to domestic violence charges, including self-defense, defense of others, or defense of property. If the alleged victim was the primary aggressor in the offense, it can often be shown that his injuries were defensive in nature. On other words, if he grabbed your arm to push you against the wall, and you scratched his face in the process of protecting yourself, his injury may show up immediately, while your bruises may not show up until hours after your arrest. Women are particularly vulnerable to false allegations of domestic violence.
Additionally, the past difficulties between the parties or prior acts of domestic violence can often be used to show that the woman was acting in self-defense during the incident that lead to her arrest. In many of these cases the woman has previously been the victim of domestic violence at the hands of the man that is now making the accusation of domestic violence. It is particularly important to prevent the false allegations of domestic violence from being used as another means of controlling and victimizing a woman who was attempting to defend herself during an argument with an abusive partner.
Expert testimony on Battered Spouse Syndrome, formerly called Battered Women Syndrome, is admissible as a defense to a criminal accusation in Florida when a qualified expert can testify that the person accused was suffering from the syndrome at the time the incident occurred. Most people think this defense can only be used in murder cases, however, it can also be successfully asserted in less serious cases of domestic violence such as aggravated battery.
Defending women against false allegations of domestic violence is particularly important because false allegations can later be used against the woman in a child custody dispute or divorce action, even years after the incident. If you were arrested for domestic violence or domestic battery in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Bartow, Dade City, Plant City or New Port Richey or the surrounding areas, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney that is experienced representing women against false accusations of domestic violence. At the Sammis Law Firm, we represent women charged with domestic violence in Hillsborough County, Polk County, Manatee County, Pasco County, Sarasota County and Pinellas County.
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Other Related Domestic Violence Charges in Florida:
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The most important thing to remember is that just because an arrest was made does not mean that the case will be successfully prosecuted. These cases often involve "he said, she said" accusations that may not meet the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard that exists for criminal cases, especially when the accused is represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney that is experienced in fighting these kinds of domestic violence cases in Hillsborough County or one of the surrounding counties in Florida.
If you have been arrested for a domestic violence allegation, call to speak with an experienced Domestic Violence Attorney who can discuss your case with you, and find solutions to your legal difficulties. The Sammis Law Firm serves clients charged with domestic battery and other types of domestic violence allegations in Hillsborough County, Polk County, Pasco County, Manatee County and the surrounding areas. Take the appropriate steps to protect your future, your career, and your family by contacting an experienced attorney. The decisions you make now may have a lasting impact on your future divorce, family law or child custody hearing.
Contact a Tampa domestic violence and domestic battery attorney for more information about your domestic violence, domestic battery, assault, tampering, interference with 911, child endangerment case throughout the Tampa Bay area including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Bartow, New Port Richey, Dade City, Plant City, including the counties of Hillsborough, Polk, Pasco, and Pinellas or the surronding areas. Call 813-250-0500 to speak directly with an experienced criminal attorney at the Sammis Law Firm, P.A., today about your domestic violence or domestic battery case.
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Domestic Violence and Domestic Battery Links
National Center for Victims of Crime - Dating Violence - Web page published by the NCVC describing what dating violence is and what to do if you or someone you know is a victim.
American Bar Association - Domestic Violence Safety Tips - The ABA's web page with tips on how to protect yoursel and your children in an emergency situation involving domestic violence or abuse.
Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence - The FCADV provides leadership, advocacy, education, training, technical assistance, public policy and development, and support to domestic violence center programs.
Florida Domestic Violence Center - The FCADV's directory of Domestic Violence centers in Florida.
The Spring - Domestic violence shelter in Hillsborough County - Hillsborough's only certified domestic violence prevention and emergency shelter agency. The Spring provides sanctuary to more than 50,000 abused adults and their children in Hillsborough County, Florida.
CASA -Domestic violence agency serving the St. Petersburg area - Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA) is a community organization with a vision to end violence so that the home is a safe place.
The Haven of RCS - Domestic violence agency in Pinellas County - The Haven of RCS was founded in 1980 to provide safe housing and outreach services to survivors of domestic violence.
Las Vegas Domestic Violence Attorney - Defense Lawyer representing those charged with domestic violence offenses in Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada and surrounding areas.
Houston Domestic Violence Lawyer - Criminal Defense Attorney representing those charged with domestic violence offenses in Houson, Harris County, Texas and surrounding areas.
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