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Domestic Violence

Recent statistics cited by the State Attorney’s Office show that in Hillsborough County, FL, a domestic violence arrest occurred every 79 minutes (6670/ year) (UCR, 2012 – 2016). Although an arrests are common, pleading guilty to any act of domestic violence is not an option for many people.

First, Florida law prohibits any domestic violence charge from being sealed even if you entered a “no contest” plea and the court “withholds” any adjudication of guilt. The only way to completely get rid of the criminal record is to make sure the charges are completely dropped or dismissed so that the record can be expunged (if you are otherwise eligible).

Secondly, just because you were arrested does not mean the case will be successfully prosecuted. Domestic violence cases often involve “he said, she said” accusations that are not enough for the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. For this reason, seek out the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney at the earliest stages of the case.

When it comes to accusations of domestic violence, false or exaggerated allegations do occur. The person who makes the accusation might be confused, angry, or seeking revenge. The criminal justice system can be manipulated by someone motivated to make a false allegation. That motivation can come from any of the following types of disputes:

  • how to divide property or money after a separation;
  • who gets to live in the family home;
  • how custody or child support will be determined; or
  • whether one person cheated on another.

In other cases, the alleged victim wants the charges dropped because the parties have sought counseling and made changes within their family that ensure another incident will not occur.

After an arrest for domestic violence battery in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, all one of the attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your case during a free consultation. The best result in these cases is getting the charges dropped quickly, and if you are eligible, getting the arrest record expunged.

Attorneys for Domestic Violence Battery in Tampa, FL

The criminal defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm are experienced in representing clients on a variety of misdemeanor or felony domestic violence crimes. Most of the time, a domestic violence case is for a misdemeanor offense such as assault or battery.

Misdemeanor charges often involve a slap, push, or shove that doesn’t result in any kind of injury. Even an offensive touching can lead to a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence battery.

Sometimes the incident can result in more serious felony allegations involving the following types of charges:

  • aggravated domestic violence battery with serious bodily injury;
  • aggravated domestic violence assault with a weapon or firearm;
  • domestic battery by strangulation;
  • battery on a pregnant female; or
  • battery on a person over the age of 65 years old.

Call our office to speak directly with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your arrest for domestic violence. We take the time to listen to your side of the story and understand all of the facts and circumstances that are unique to your case.

Our domestic violence attorneys represent both men and women in the courtrooms in Tampa or Plant City in Hillsborough County, St. Petersburg or Clearwater in Pinellas County, New Port Richey or Dade City in Pasco County, Bartow or Lakeland in Polk County and Brooksville in Hernando County.

Most of our clients were arrested for a first-time offense of domestic violence battery. The accusations are even more serious if you have a prior criminal record for any violent crime. Don’t make a costly mistake. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

Call (813) 250-0500 to talk to us about your case.


Judges for Domestic Violence Cases in Hillsborough County

All domestic violence cases which involve defendants domiciled outside of the East Division boundaries will be assigned to Division “F” at the courthouse in Tampa, FL. The judge currently assigned to the domestic violence division at the Tampa courthouse is Judge Margaret R. Taylor.

Domestic violence injunctions for protection are heard in the courtrooms in Tampa, FL, in Division “G” by the Honorable Frances M. Perrone or in Division “H” by the Honorable Jared E. Smith.

For cases on the east side of the county, petitions for a domestic violence injunction are heard in the Plant City Courthouse. These cases are heard in Division “S” by the Honorable Art E. McNeil or in Division “V” by the Honorable Richard A. Weis.

According to Hillsborough County’s Administrative Order S-2017-067, the term “domestic violence case” means any misdemeanor case arising from the conduct of one family or household member (as defined in section741.28,  Florida Statutes) against another, including assault, battery, harassment, stalking and misdemeanor violations of section 741.31, Florida Statutes.

If a defendant who has a domestic violence case pending or who is on probation in Division “F,” East County Criminal Division “P” or East County Criminal Division “X” is subsequently charged with a new misdemeanor charge that is not a domestic violence case, the new misdemeanor charge will be assigned to a county criminal division according to the assignment provision in this administrative order.

If a defendant is on probation in a division other than Division “F” or East County Criminal Divisions “P” or “X” and is subsequently charged with a domestic violence case, the clerk will file the domestic violence case in Division “F” or east County Criminal Divisions “P” or “X” and the probation case will remain in the division in which it is pending.


Consequences of Domestic Violence Charges in Florida

If you were charged with a crime for any form of domestic violence, then you need an experienced attorney for the following reasons:

  • 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. In other words, after the arrest, you will stay in jail 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 your children, or communicating with your spouse until a motion to modify this condition of your bond is granted after a court hearing. If you have an attorney representing you at first appearance, the attorney can request modifications to the standard “no contact” provision.
  • The charge itself is classified as 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 on your right to possess a firearm under state and federal law.
  • 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 criminal record for any domestic violence charge. 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. Additionally, private data mining companies like arrests.com or mugshots.com will build pages about you on the internet that display the mug shot and facts about the arrest.
  • Most importantly, employers may be extremely hesitant to hire or promote anyone who has a domestic violence arrest or conviction on a criminal record.
  • The arrest and prosecution can be used against you in a future divorce, family law, or child custody hearing.

Special Procedures for Domestic Violence Prosecutions in Florida

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 types of cases. In the Tampa courthouse, the clerk’s office funnels domestic violence cases into Division “F” with Judge Margaret R. Taylor.

Florida Statute 741.2901 sets special rules for prosecutors in domestic violence cases. It provides for “specialized” prosecutors. It requires each state attorney’s office:

“develop special units or assign prosecutors to specialize in the prosecution of domestic violence cases…. These prosecutors, specializing in domestic violence cases, and their support staff shall receive training in domestic violence issues.”

The statute also requires: 

“[t]he state attorney in each circuit shall adopt a pro-prosecution policy for acts of domestic violence, as defined in s. 741.28, and an intake policy and procedures coordinated with the clerk of court for violations of injunctions for protection against domestic violence. The filing, non-filing, or diversion of criminal charges and the prosecution of violations of injunctions for protection against domestic violence by the state attorney shall be determined by these specialized prosecutors over the objection of the victim, if necessary.”

For this reason, prosecutors in Division “F” in the Tampa courthouse do nothing but prosecute domestic violence assault and domestic violence battery cases. These prosecutors have special training in how to prosecute these difficult cases. You also need an attorney focused on these unique types of criminal cases to defend you against the charges and to mount an aggressive defense.


Procedures Used by Tampa Police in Domestic Violence Cases

The standard operating procedures for the Tampa Police Department, SOP 314.1, provide that all domestic violence cases not involving an arrest will be referred to the Criminal Investigations Division and investigated per policy. In domestic violence cases, officers with the Tampa Police Department will not issue any of the following:

  • a Request for Prosecution by Complainant;
  • an Assault Victim Instructions Form; or
  • a Notice to Appear.

Instead, the police are required to make a formal arrest if probable cause exists to believe the crime was committed. If the officer is not able to make an arrest, the officer must trigger the entry of a warrant for the person’s arrest on domestic violence charges.

Similiar procedures are followed in other jurisdictions including domestic violence cases in Pasco County, FL.


Potential Penalties for a Domestic Violence Charges in Tampa, FL

In Florida, the penalties for a domestic violence charge can include:

  • incarceration (jail time or prison time) or a lengthy probation sentence;
  • completion of a Batterers Intervention Program (26-29 week course);
  • perform community service hours; and
  • “no contact” or “no violent contact” with the victim in the case (a violation of this condition can cause an arrest without bond for violation of probation and a separate charge of felony aggravated stalking).

The best way to avoid these consequences is by seeking aggressive and experienced representation at each stage of the case. When children are present for the incident, the arrest might also result in a visit from an investigator with the Child Protective Investigations Division of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

The HCSO CPI investigator will often demand that one or both parents sign a “Child Safety Plan” after an allegation that the child witnessed a “physical altercation” between the mother and father or other family members that endangered the children which presented a present or impending danger. 

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you will any additional issues that come up during the investigation.


Types of Domestic Violence Cases in Tampa, FL

Domestic violence offenses include both felonies and misdemeanors. Different types of domestic violence-related charges in Florida include:

  1. domestic violence assault or aggravated assault;
  2. domestic violence battery or aggravated battery;
  3. domestic violence battery by strangulation;
  4. violation of an order of protection against domestic or dating violence;
  5. stalking or aggravated stalking;
  6. kidnapping;
  7. false imprisonment;
  8. cyber harassment;
  9. tampering with a witness; or
  10. interference with a 911 call.

We also represent clients charged with violation of probation in a domestic violence case.


Additional Resources

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.

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 – Commission on Domestic Violence – Visit the website for the ABA’s Commission on Domestic Violence for on how to protect yourself and your children in an emergency situation involving domestic violence or abuse. The ABA’s Commission on Domestic Violence is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Learn more about its work over the past two decades to end domestic violence, and protect those unjustly accused.

Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence – The FCADV takes in over $35 million in taxpayer money each year. The President/CEO has an annual salary of more than $750,000 which is approved by the board. The organization doesn’t keep a line item budget and it appears the board members also have their hand in the cookie jar. Read more about the big problem with the FCADV and President/CEO Tiffany Carr.

Attorney for Domestic Violence in Pinellas County – Learn more about fighting misdemeanor domestic violence charges in Pinellas County. The Honorable Holly Grissinger, County Court Judge, presides over cases involving misdemeanor domestic battery at the Pinellas County Justice Center on 49th Street in Clearwater, FL.


Finding a Lawyer for Domestic Violence in Hillsborough County

After an arrest for any act of domestic violence in Hillsborough County, FL, then call to speak with an experienced attorney who can discuss your case with you. The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm fights to protect both men and women charged with domestic battery and other types of domestic violence allegations in Hillsborough County, Polk County, Pasco County, Hernando County and the surrounding areas.

Keep in mind that if you are arrested for any charge of Domestic Violence, then under § 741.2901(3), Fla. Stat, you will not be released on a bail bond until after your first appearance hearing.

Take the appropriate steps to protect your future, your career, and your family by contacting an experienced attorney for domestic violence battery cases. The decisions you make now may have a lasting impact on your future divorce, family law or child custody hearing.

Learn more about frequently asked questions in domestic violence cases and defending women arrested for domestic violence.

We are also familiar with the issues faced by an intimate partner when violence is alleged in a LGBT+ relationship. Anyone in a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) relationship who is accused of domestic violence often faces another layer of prejudice while the case is being investigated and prosecuted. An aggressive criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights after a false accusation.

Call our Tampa Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys at (813) 250-0500 to talk about the facts of your case today.


This article was last updated by Leslie Sammis on Monday, October 15, 2018.

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