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Domestic Violence

If you were charged with a crime of domestic violence in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, or a surrounding county in the Tampa Bay area, then call one of the four 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.

For many, pleading guilty to any act of domestic violence is simply not an option for several reasons. First, Florida law prohibits any domestic violence charge from being sealed even if you entered a "no contest" plea and the court "withholds" an 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.

The most important thing to remember is that just because you were arrested does not mean the case will be successfully prosecuted. These cases often involve "he said, she said" accusations that are not enough for the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. This is especially true when the person accused of domestic violence is represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney at every stage of the case.

Attorneys for Domestic Violence Battery in Tampa, FL

The four attorneys at Sammis Law Firm are experienced in representing clients on a variety of domestic violence offenses from a misdemeanor for domestic battery to a more serious felony offense for aggravated domestic battery, battery by strangulation, or battery on a pregnant female in Tampa, FL.

Call our office to speak directly with an attorney about the case. 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 and Lakeland in Polk County and Brooksville in Hernando County. Most of our clients were arrested for a first-time offense of domestic violence battery.

Call 813-250-0500 to speak with an attorney about your case today.

Consequences of the Domestic Violence Charge in Florida

If you were charged with 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 have to stay in jail until 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 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 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 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.
  • The arrest and prosecution can be used against you in a divorce, family law, or child custody hearing.

Judges for Domestic Violence Cases in Hillsborough County

For domestic violence battery cases heard at the Tampa courthouse, the cases are heard in Division "F." The judge assigned to this division is Judge Margaret R. Taylor.

Violence Injunctions in the Plant City Courthouse are heard in Division "S" by the Honorable Art E. McNeil or in Division "V" by the Honorable Richard A. Weis.

Domestic violence injunctions in the Tampa Courthouse are heard in Division "G" by the Honorable Frances M. Perrone or in Division "H" by the Honorable Jared E. Smith.

How Domestic Violence Charges are Handled in Hillsborough County, FL

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, Domestic Violence cases are funnelled 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 prosecuted 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.

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);
  • completion of 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. tampering with a witness; or
  9. 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 provides leadership, advocacy, education, training, technical assistance, public policy and development, and support to domestic violence center programs. Find The FCADV's directory of Domestic Violence centers in Florida.

Finding a Lawyer for Domestic Violence in Hillsborough County

If you were arrested for an 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.

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.

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 Friday, January 12, 2018.