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If you have been arrested for domestic violence in Florida, you may be concerned about what comes next. Anxiety and apprehension can only grow if you are not informed about the process and don’t know what is in store for your future.

That’s where we come in. Fletcher & Fletcher is a husband-and-wife team based in St. Petersburg, FL. We have dedicated our entire careers to criminal defense, so we know the ins and outs of the legal system for domestic violence cases.

In this blog, we will guide you through what to expect at your first domestic violence hearing.

Domestic Violence in Florida

It’s important to understand the definition of domestic violence in Florida. This definition is crucial when presenting your case in court.

In Florida, domestic violence is defined in Statute 741.28 as:

“Any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”

It’s important to note that domestic violence isn’t limited to violence between romantic partners, a common misconception. The definition includes “family or household member,” encompassing a broader range of relationships: 

  • Children
  • Other relatives
  • Co-parents (regardless of current relationship status); or
  • Even roommates

Proving a Domestic Violence Case in Florida

In order for the prosecution to win a domestic violence case in Florida, they must prove two key points:

  • Intent: The accused intended to cause harm to the victim.
  • Bodily Harm: The accused’s actions resulted in bodily harm to the victim.

The prosecution may use various types of evidence to establish these points and prove a domestic violence case in Florida, including:

  • Medical reports and evidence: Documentation of injuries sustained by the victim.
  • Photographic or video evidence: Visual records depicting injuries or the scene of the incident.
  • Cellphone records: Text messages, calls, or location data potentially relevant to the case.
  • Witness testimonials: Statements from individuals who saw or heard the incident.
  • Other evidence: Additional items the prosecution finds relevant to the case.

Remember these points as you prepare for your first hearing in a domestic violence case. It’s crucial to understand the legal process and the types of evidence that may be used against you.

Your First Hearing

Your first hearing will likely occur within 24 hours of your arrest. Sometimes called the advisory hearing, it is your chance to post bail or bond.

In this appearance, you will appear before a judge, who will review the information about the case available so far. Based on the initial information, they will determine whether or not to grant you bail.

Penalties for Domestic Battery

Domestic battery in Florida is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. Penalties for this offense can include up to one year in jail, twelve months of probation and a $1,000 fine.  

In addition to these core penalties, there are further consequences. These may include a mandatory 26-week Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP), additional community service hours, loss of civil liberties (such as concealed carry rights), and the potential for an injunction or ‘no contact’ order.

Sealing or Expunging Domestic Charges

Under Florida law, convictions for domestic violence battery or related violent crimes create a permanent stain on your criminal record. Records cannot be sealed or expunged, even if adjudication is withheld.

Hence why it is important to work with an experienced attorney who practices your case to ensure that you have all your questions answered, including the option and potential for bail or bond.

Bail in a Florida Domestic Violence Case

If the judge grants you bail, they will evaluate your risk to the community to determine the bail amount. Your bail may also come with conditions based on your ability to meet certain requirements.

Some examples of bail conditions include:

  • No contact order, which will prevent you from contacting the victim.
  • Being restricted from returning to your shared residence.
  • Being required to enroll in counseling or substance abuse treatment.

Unlike most crimes in Florida, domestic violence cases don’t have standardized bonds for immediate release. You’ll need to appear before a judge to obtain a no-contact order between you and the alleged victim.

This process doesn’t apply to life felonies or capital charges. Life felonies, including severe crimes like murder and rape, result in life imprisonment without parole. Capital felonies can lead to the death penalty in Florida.

Having a reliable lawyer with proven results by your side to help you navigate the legal process is vital to protecting your rights and working towards the best possible outcome.

Contact Fletcher & Fletcher St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorneys Today

No matter what charges you’re facing, Rick and Jenna of Fletcher & Fletcher in St. Petersburg, FL, will treat you with respect and make our best effort to support you through your legal process. 

We have the resources and everything you need to know to make informed decisions.

Wherever you are in Florida, we’re prepared to go all in on your case. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.

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