It is estimated that almost 1 million people in the United States experience domestic violence a year. With such a staggering number, it is understandable to be concerned and want to educate yourself on the subject. Today, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding domestic violence and domestic violence laws in Florida to shed some light on the subject.
If you or your loved one is a victim of domestic violence, do not hesitate to reach out to Florida’s confidential domestic violence hotline at 1-800-500-1119.
What Is Considered Domestic Violence According to Florida Law?
Domestic violence in Florida is defined as assault or battery, aggravated assault or battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death, committed by a family or household member.
You need to know what Florida law constitutes as domestic violence to understand this type of conduct and its relationship to the law. Per Florida law, a crime of domestic violence includes any of the following scenarios:
- The person charged with committing a criminal act is an intimate partner of the victim
- The person charged with committing a criminal act is a current/former spouse of the victim
- The person charged with committing a criminal act lived with or previously lived with the victim
- The person charged with committing a criminal act is a person who is akin to a spouse
- The person charged with committing a violent assault against an adult or child when that victim is/was under the protection of domestic violence laws of Florida
A criminal act is considered domestic violence when the conduct caused another individual to fear for their safety, caused them physical, emotional, or mental pain, injuries, and/or any illnesses.
What Is Considered a Violent Act?
Criminal charges follow a petition for a Domestic Violence Injunction. As such, not every crime in Florida will be considered grounds for protection under Florida’s domestic violence laws. A judge has the power to order an injunction or restraining order if:
- The crime resulted in a physical injury to the victim
- The victim felt afraid due to certain conduct, word, or both
- The victim believes he/she was/is likely to be harmed by a violent act
How to Prove a Case of Domestic Violence Under Florida Law
Florida courts will look at a variety of factors to determine if domestic violence has occurred. The first factor is the duration and nature of the relationship, including how frequently the two individuals involved in a domestic violence allegation interacted. Domestic violence laws are not designed to govern over casual relationships.
The courts will also determine if the case is a result of marital discord or consistent disagreements. Florida’s domestic violence laws should not be used to resolve marital issues or as a form of retribution for a slight committed by a spouse during their relationships.
What Are the Different Types of Protective Orders?
In Florida, when you file a petition for a Domestic Violence Injunction, the court will consider giving you two types of injunctions: a temporary injunction and a final injunction for protection against domestic violence.
Temporary (ex parte) Injunction
A temporary or ex parte injunction is designed to provide you and your loved ones with immediate protection. This restraining order takes effect once the defendant is served a copy and will remain active for a certain number of days. It will not exceed 15 days.
This provides additional protection and relief for the victim of domestic violence. This injunction may have a time duration, such as 1 year, or it might not have an expiration date.
What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence?
You will be charged with a minimum punishment of 5 days in jail if convicted of domestic violence. The court could also sentence you to a period of imprisonment in Florida state prison, a probation sentence, or community service. You could be charged with additional criminal offenses as well – depending on the offense. For instance, you may be convicted for assault, which is considered a second-degree misdemeanor, or aggravated assault, which is a third-degree felony. The consequences for a misdemeanor include a jail sentence anywhere between 60 days to 1 year in prison. A third-degree felony could lead to a 5-year prison term.
In the event an individual has an injunction in place against the defendant, and he/she violates this court order, this could be grounds for a first-degree misdemeanor. A conviction of a first-degree misdemeanor could be imprisonment for up to 1 year.
To learn more about how we can help you seek legal protection from domestic violence, contact our office online or via (407) 753-4111 to speak with an experienced attorney.