Escambia County Domestic Violence lawyer
Domestic violence charges are very serious and can have immediate and lasting effects on your life. Immediately hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer is necessary to help you understand what is at stake. The Florida Criminal Defense Legal Group in Escambia County, Florida has extensive experience handling domestic violence cases and appreciates the seriousness of a domestic violence allegation.
Under Florida Law, “Domestic Violence” is defined as any assault, 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.”
Florida Law defines “Family or household member” broadly to include spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit. In the case of persons with a child in common one of the two people can be guilty of domestic violence against the other even if they never lived together and even if they were never married.
In Escambia County, Florida a domestic violence allegation can start either in Criminal Court or in Civil Court
The criminal process usually starts with an alleged victim making a report of domestic violence to law enforcement. When the law enforcement officer responds to the scene of an alleged domestic violence incident, she will do a preliminary investigation to determine if a crime has been committed and to determine who is the “primary aggressor.” Frequently, both parties allege that they are the victim and were attacked by the other. The law enforcement officer will usually separate and question the people involved and any witnesses and examine any visible injuries to determine what actually occurred. The “primary aggressor” is usually arrested, but sometimes both parties are arrested if the law enforcement officer has determined that bodily harm has occurred to both parties but cannot determine who was the “primary aggressor.”
Usually within 24 hours of your arrest, you will appear before a Judge for what is called “First Appearance.” At First Appearance the Judge will determine if bond/bail is appropriate and in what amount. If bond is granted, the Judge will more than likely issue a “No Contact” Order which will require you to have no contact with the alleged victim in the case. The “no contact order” will be a condition of your bond and if violated will require you to return to jail. Having Attorney Stephen Cobb of the Florida Criminal Defense Legal Group at your First Appearance hearing can help you obtain a reasonable bond or a “release on your own recognizance” (ROR).
Do not attempt to resolve a criminal domestic violence case without an experienced Escambia County, Florida criminal defense attorney because you are facing:
- Mandatory Jail Time
- Permanent Criminal Record that is Ineligible for Sealing or Expungement, and
- Mandatory Batterers Intervention Program
- Forfeiture of your right to have a gun while on probation
If you have been charged with domestic violence in Escambia County Florida, you need to act right away to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. The Florida Criminal Defense Legal Group has handled many domestic violence cases and can help you understand and protect your rights. Sometimes, early contact with the State Attorney’s Office can lead to your domestic violence charge being dropped, even before criminal charges are filed. Even if charges are filed against you, the Florida Criminal Defense Legal Group will vigorously defend you during the plea negotiations with the State Attorney and all the way to the courtroom.
Florida law allows anyone who is a victim of domestic violence or has reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming the victim of domestic violence to petition the court for an injunction for protection against domestic violence (also referred to as a Restraining Order).
The person requesting the injunction for protection is called the Petitioner. The person accused is called the Respondent. Whether you are the petitioner or respondent, Escambia County, Florida Attorney Stephen Cobb of the Florida Criminal Defense Legal Group will inform you of and help you to protect your rights.
If you or loved one is the victim of domestic violence, it is important to know that there are solutions available. To get an Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence issued against an abuser, the Petitioner must file a sworn Petition at the circuit courthouse. The Petitioner does not need an attorney to file a petition, but an experienced Florida domestic violence attorney can help a Petitioner understand the law and help the Petitioner properly complete the sworn Petition.
After the Petition has been filed, the Court quickly reviews it and makes a determination as to whether an immediate and present danger of domestic violence exists. If the Court finds that such a danger exists it might immediately grant an ex-parte temporary injunction to protect the Petitioner from possible danger, pending a full hearing. The Court might be unsure whether such a danger exists and will hold off issuing the Injunction for Protection. In either case, the Court will schedule a hearing usually within 15 days to determine whether an Injunction for Protection should be issued.
If the Petitioner does not attend the hearing, the Judge will not enter an Injunction for Protection. It is therefore very important for you to attend this hearing. If you are nervous about speaking in court, you might want to hire an experienced domestic violence injunction attorney to advocate on your behalf.
Whether you have been accused justly or unjustly of domestic violence, you have rights that need to be protected. If you have received a notice to appear in court for a hearing on an Injunction for Protection you need to appear in court and have an experienced Escambia County, Florida Domestic Violence Injunction attorney by your side. Appearing in court will give you and your lawyer an opportunity to present evidence and tell your side of the story.
DURING AND AFTER THE HEARING
The Judge will look at several factors to determine whether the Petitioner has reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence. Those factors include, but are not limited to:
- The history between the petitioner and the respondent, including threats, harassment, stalking, and physical abuse.
- Whether the respondent has attempted to harm the petitioner or family members or individuals closely associated with the petitioner.
- Whether the respondent has threatened to conceal, kidnap, or harm the petitioner’s child or children.
- Whether the respondent has used, or has threatened to use, against the petitioner any weapons such as guns or knives.
- Whether the respondent has physically restrained the petitioner from leaving the home or calling law enforcement.
- Whether the respondent has a criminal history involving violence or the threat of violence.
- Whether the respondent engaged in any other behavior or conduct that leads the petitioner to have reasonable cause to believe that he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence.
If the Injunction for Protection is granted, the injunction will prohibit the Respondent from committing any act of domestic violence against the Petitioner. It will also often require the Respondent to stay a certain distance from the Petitioner’s work, home, or school. In certain circumstances the court may also find it appropriate to order relief pertaining to temporary child or spousal support, temporary child custody, and exclusive use of the family home.
If the Respondent violates an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence, he or she may be held in criminal contempt of court and also charged with distinct criminal offenses depending on the way in which the injunction was violated.
Are There Other Types of Injunctions for Protection?
Yes. There are three other types of injunctions for protection besides the one for domestic violence:
- Petition for Injunction Against Repeat Violence – This the petition that is filed if you have suffered more than one act of violence. You do not have to be related to the other person nor do you to have lived with the other person.
- Petition for Injunction Against Dating Violence – This is the petition that is filed if your abuser is someone you’ve had a romantic or intimate relationship with in the past six months.
- Petition for Injunction Against Sexual Violence – This is the petition that is filed if you are a victim of sexual violence.
Whether you are the victim or the accused, both parties in domestic violence cases have rights that need to be fully protected. The legal procedures can be complicated and the law is often changing. To have a skilled attorney on your side, contact the Florida Criminal Defense Legal Group in Escambia County, Florida.