If you have been arrested in Brevard County and are facing charges for domestic violence, you likely have many questions. For your convenience, I have put together answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about domestic violence in Florida. Please keep in mind that this information is just an overview and may not apply directly to your case. For the most accurate information relating to your particular circumstances, call my office and set up a free consultation today!
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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. The police are often inclined to make an arrest even if the alleged victim does not want to prosecute. The police officers in these cases rarely have access to all of the information about the past difficulties between the parties. In a very short amount of time the police are confronted with conflicting versions of what occurred, and must make a judgment call about which party was the "primary aggressor." The odds are overwhelming that the person arrested will be male.
Does the Court Order really prevent me from
speaking to the alleged victim and
entering my own home?
Yes. At your first appearance, the judge will impose a "no contact" provision that means that you can not have any direct or indirect contact with the alleged victim. Sometimes the no contact will extend to any witness and your children. Do not violate the "no contact" order, even if you are asked or encouraged to do so by the alleged victim. The judge will also impose a “no return” to the alleged victim’s residence. If you live at the same place, you can not return to your home, even if you are the sole home owner. If you are lucky, the judge will allow you a one time return to collect your clothing and personal effects but you must be accompanied by a law enforcement officer. Do not violate these Court Orders (rules) because if you do you will be arrested for violating the court's order and brought back to jail likely without bond. Having contact with the alleged victim can result in another criminal charge for "tampering with a witness."
If the alleged victim does not want to press charges,
will the case be dropped?
Unfortunately, no. Once the State Attorney takes on a case, it is in their power to decide whether to move forward with the charges, not the accusers. The alleged victim does not have to cooperate in order for charges to be filed. This means even if your accuser tries to take back their accusations or statements against you, the State Attorney gets to decide whether you will stand in front of a court of law and be tried for domestic violence. When police respond to a scene where they believe domestic violence has taken place, they will put that information in the police report. If the State Attorney wants to press charges based on the evidence witnessed by the police and others, they are free to do that.
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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. Even if the allege victim contacts you and wants to reconcile, only the judge can remove the "No Contact" provision. The Motion to Modify the Bond Conditions to remove the "No Contact" provision can normally be filed on an emergency basis and heard within a few business days after retaining me. 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 violates the "No Contact" provision. 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.
What happens if the victim does not want to cooperate?
Domestic violence victims frequently become reluctant or even hostile witnesses for the State Attorney. Although there are often legitimate reasons for an alleged victim to refuse to cooperate or to refuse to testify, the State Attorney will often assume the main reason is fear of retaliation by the suspected abuser. As such, additional efforts may be made by the State Attorney to force the witness to appear and testify, or to obtain additional evidence for admission at trial in place of the alleged victim's testimony.
Can a victim be held in contempt of court
if they do not show up?
YES. When a witness fails to show up for court when subpoenaed, the witness may not only face contempt of court charges, but may also be the subject of body attachment to assure his or her presence in court. Therefore, an alleged victim who chooses not to cooperate in the prosecution of an alleged abuser may become the target of punishment by the legal system. It is generally the over-all goal of the State Attorney to protect alleged victims, not jail them.
What is the typical punishment for
Battery – Domestic Violence?
Battery – Domestic Violence 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 Program." After a trial, it is likely, the judge will adjudicate you guilty and order jail time. If alcohol or drugs were involved, the judge may order you not to possess or consume alcohol or illegal drugs. There is drug testing to ensure the order is followed.
It is illegal to possess a firearm after a conviction for domestic battery or while subject to a domestic violence injunction.
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The Batterers' Intervention Program (BIP) is a twenty-six (26) 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 complete an Intervention Assessment and then an orientation. Next, you have to attend 26 weeks of classes, and pay for weekly small group counseling sessions and complete homework assignments. If you miss any requirements of the BIP you can be dismissed from the program which will cause you to violate your probation and be subject to an arrest warrant.
What effect will a DV conviction
have on my ability to own a weapon?
The 1996 Lautenberg Amendment to the Gun Control Act of 1968 made it unlawful for any person convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence to possess a firearm. A “Withhold of Adjudication” would probably not count as a conviction and therefore would not bar possession of weapons. The Lautenberg Amendment also makes it a federal crime for a person subject to a domestic violence injunction to possess a firearm.
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Domestic violence charges are very serious and can lead to a multitude of penalties such as steep fines, no contact orders, jail time and more. In order to take control of your situation, it is important to hire an attorney who understands your case and how to best help you. From self-defense to malicious or false accusations, John C. Murphy can work with the smallest of details to build your defense strategy. Attorney John C. Murphy has an insider's understanding of the domestic violence legal system and can help you build a strong defense and make informed decisions regarding your case.
Should I represent myself?
Any arrest for any act of domestic violence is a serious criminal offense with serious criminal consequences that may last a lifetime. 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 Battery - Domestic Violence will be on your criminal record. 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. Even if the court withholds adjudication, you may be sentenced to probation, counseling, and continued "no contact" and “no return” provisions. 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.
What if an Injunction for Protection
Is Filed Against Me After My Arrest?
In Florida, a domestic violence Injunction for Protection, if granted, 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 the Injunction for Protection on a permanent basis. If someone has filed an Injunction for Protection against you, it is essential to hire an experienced Brevard domestic violence lawyer 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.
Contact DV Defense Attorneys at Murphy's Law Offices for the DV defense representation you deserve. We have extensive experience handling Injunction and Divorce cases. The initial consultation is free and We are always available to advise you on the proper course of action to take.
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