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Tampa Domestic Violence Attorney

Were you accused of spousal abuse or family violence?

Fla. Stat. § 741.28 states that domestic violence is any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment or similar offense committed by one member of a household against another. It is a generic term that can refer to a multitude of criminal offenses. Domestic violence is a serious issue in the United States and can leave victims with enduring emotional, psychological and physical scars. Victims of domestic violence can be, but do not have to be related to their abusers. In Florida, domestic violence can be committed against spouses, ex-spouses, blood relatives, roommates, children, or any other individuals living under the same roof.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), approximately 25% of women in the United States are affected by domestic violence in the duration of their lifetimes. While this statistic may seem high, domestic violence is notoriously underreported in the U.S. NCADV estimates that 1.3 million women are victimized by an intimate partner every year. About 85% of domestic violence victims are women. However, domestic violence is not confined to a specific demographic. In fact, domestic violence is not confined to marriage or dating relationships. Domestic violence has been known to occur in a variety of relationships. NCADV believes that the majority of domestic violence incidents are not reported to the police.

Have you been charged with crime of domestic violence? If so, you need an experienced advocate on your side to help you protect your name and your rights. There are several important things you must know when you are charged with a crime of this nature:

  1. In Florida, you cannot immediately bond out of jail following an arrest for domestic violence. Instead, you must appear at a "first appearance" hearing in front of a Judge, who will set terms and conditions for your release. Often times, depending on what the alleged victim says, the Judge will order you to have no contact with the victim. This can make your life very difficult – you may not be able to return to your home or see your children. An experienced attorney can seek a modification of this no contact order to allow you the right to enter your home, speak with your spouse, or visit your children.
  2. The arrest and subsequent prosecution can be used in other legal proceedings, including a divorce, custody, or injunction hearing. Remember, any testimony you give (or gave) at first appearance can also later be used against you in another hearing.
  3. An arrest for domestic violence can have an impact on other rights, such as owning a firearm. Additionally, crimes of domestic violence are generally frowned upon by society and having a charge like this on your record can make obtaining employment difficult – if not impossible. Furthermore, you may not be able to have your record sealed if you enter a plea of no contest or guilty in a domestic violence case, even if you have your "adjudication withheld."

In Florida, there are several different common domestic violence charges. A simple misdemeanor domestic violence battery charge is the most common. This charge, while the least severe, still carries up to twelve months imprisonment and a $1000 fine. Other charges, like felony battery or domestic violence battery by strangulation, are serious felonies that carry terms of imprisonment up to five years and fines of up to $5,000.

  • Battery is governed under 784.03. Battery is defined as:
(1) (a) The offense of battery occurs when a person: 1. Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or 2. Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person. (b) Except as provided in subsection (2), a person who commits battery commits a misdemeanor of the first degree. (2) A person who has one prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery, or felony battery and who commits any second or subsequent battery commits a felony of the third degree. For purposes of this subsection, “conviction” means a determination of guilt that is the result of a plea or a trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld or a plea of nolo contendere is entered.
  • Domestic Violence Battery by Strangulation/Felony Battery is governed under 784.041. Those crimes are defined as follows:
(1) A person commits felony battery if he or she: (a) Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; and (b) Causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement. (2) (a) A person commits domestic battery by strangulation if the person knowingly and intentionally, against the will of another, impedes the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a family or household member or of a person with whom he or she is in a dating relationship, so as to create a risk of or cause great bodily harm by applying pressure on the throat or neck of the other person or by blocking the nose or mouth of the other person. This paragraph does not apply to any act of medical diagnosis, treatment, or prescription which is authorized under the laws of this state. (b) As used in this subsection, the term:1. “Family or household member” has the same meaning as in s. 741.28.2. “Dating relationship” means a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. (3) A person who commits felony battery or domestic battery by strangulation commits a felony of the third degree.
  • Often times, a related charge of false imprisonment is filed along with the domestic violence charge. Under Florida Statute 787.02:
(1) (a) The term “false imprisonment” means forcibly, by threat, or secretly confining, abducting, imprisoning, or restraining another person without lawful authority and against her or his will. (b) Confinement of a child under the age of 13 is against her or his will within the meaning of this section if such confinement is without the consent of her or his parent or legal guardian. (2) A person who commits the offense of false imprisonment is guilty of a felony of the third degree. A person who commits the offense of false imprisonment upon a child under the age of 13 and who, in the course of committing the offense, commits any enumerated offense commits a felony of the first degree.

At Taracks Gomez & Rickman our legal team has over 45 years of experience fighting domestic violence charges like the one you are facing today. We know the issues and, as former prosecutors, how to attack the State's case and protect your name and rights. When our firm comes on a domestic violence case:

Domestic Violence Injunctions

What is a domestic violence injunction (DV injunction)? In the State of Florida, those alleged of family violence may have an injunction placed against them. Simply put, this is a type of restraining order that a person can file against their spouse or significant other if there was violence or threat of violence.

According to the Florida Court,

Victims of any act of domestic violence or those who have reasonable cause to believe that they are in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence, [a DV injunction] can prohibit domestic violence. If the facts contained in the petition convince the judge that the petitioner is a victim of domestic violence or that an imminent danger of domestic violence exists, the judge will sign either an immediate Temporary Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence with Minor Child(ren), Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.980(c)(1) or an immediate Temporary Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence without Minor Child(ren), Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.980(c)(2).

If you have been issued a DV injunction, you have the right to contest it. Although this is not equal to a criminal conviction, the provisions are similar to criminal penalties. Also, those that violate the terms of their injunction may be found guilty of a criminal offense.

Defense Against Domestic Violence in Florida

Our first step is representing our client at the first appearance hearing. There, we will fight to have our client released on their own recognizance or issued a low bond. Additionally, depending on the facts and our client's position, we may request that our client be permitted to have contact with the alleged victim and/or permitted to return to the home where the incident occurred. In many cases, the incident was a misunderstanding and the victim may want to testify on our client's behalf. In this case, we will accompany your spouse to court and help him or her understand what must be done in order to get our client back in the home and with his or her children.

Second, we attack the charge itself at the intake stage, hoping to have the charges reduced or dismissed before formal charges are filed. This step can prevent our clients from having serious felony charges filed against them, and may even result in the entire case being dismissed. Aggressively attacking the case early on may also save you thousands of dollars in fines, court costs, and legal fees, and may result in you being assigned to a more understanding division, such as a misdemeanor domestic violence division, as opposed to a standard felony division.

Third, if and when a charge is actually filed we look to poke holes in the State's case. Our number one goal is always to help our client have the charges dismissed or, alternatively, avoid a conviction in a manner that would allow him or her to obtain a sealing or expunction of his or her criminal record. We know that often times these cases stem from misunderstandings or little fights that end up blown out of proportion. Our firm is dedicated to helping good people avoid the harsh consequences associated with a conviction of a crime of domestic violence, including the social stigma attached. Often times, within months of your arrest we can have your actual record sealed or expunged, preventing anyone from seeing your record on the clerk's website. Additionally, we will fight to have your mug shot removed from third party websites such as Mugshots.com or BustedMugshots.com.

It is absolutely essential that you retain the services of a highly qualified attorney from our firm. We have assisted numerous clients throughout the years who have been wrongfully accused of domestic violence, especially in bitter divorces and heated child custody battles. We urge you to contact our firm to so you can gain a full understanding of what steps can be taken to achieve the greatest outcome possible.

Protect your legal rights and your family; contact a Tampa domestic violence lawyer from Taracks Gomez & Rickman at 813-289-4357 today!

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