Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

When it comes to domestic violence arrests and prosecutions, the State of Florida does not discriminate or give a pass to those in same-sex relationships. F.S. 741.28 defines domestic violence as any assault, battery, sexual violence, stalking, kidnapping or false imprisonment involving a family or household member by another. The law expressly states this is to be interpreted to include spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, people living together as if they are a family or have in the past or those who have a child together, regardless of whether they were ever married or not. Florida was one of the first states to establish precedence in case law ensuring civil protection orders would be available in LGBTQ relationships.domestic violence defense attorney blog

Fort Lauderdale domestic violence defense attorneys know this is not to say it hasn’t been something with which law enforcement here hasn’t struggled to an extent; The Department of Children and Families has had to expressly identify gay men and lesbian women as a special population with unique needs that may require tailored responses from responding authorities. But despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling the 14th Amendment guaranteeing same-sex couples the right to a legally-recognized marriage in each state, some regions of the country are still grappling with how to align this with narrow criminal statutes that in some cases were written with the intention to delegitimize these relationships. When there is conflict or alleged violence in LGBTQ relationships, it can lead to confusion for all parties about their rights and where things stand.

In South Carolina, one of just three states noted by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic Violence to expressly exclude same-sex couples from obtaining civil protection orders against one another, prosecutors are considering bypassing a series of magistrate rulings dismissing domestic violence charges involving gay and lesbian couples for lack of probable cause. The magistrates, all from the same county, cite state law defining a “couple” as consisting solely of one man and one woman. That state law was struck down as unconstitutional in 2017, and affirmed in a state attorney general’s opinion earlier this year, clarifying prosecutors were permitted to pursue criminal charges for domestic violence involving homosexual couples. Local media reports at least half a dozen domestic violence charge dismissals. However, prosecutors have the option to file indictments directly with state circuit.  Continue reading

A local college football player is facing serious consequences – on and off the field – following his Broward County arrest for domestic violence. The 21-year-old running back, a junior at Florida International University, has been investigation since mid-June, when a woman he was dating filed a report with the Broward County s Sheriff’s Office, claiming he’d choked her. The case was disposed of in August.domestic violence defense lawyer Broward

In an odd twist of events, investigators opened a second investigation into the same incident that same month and issued a warrant for his arrest. Based on a report from CBS Miami, that warrant remained active, even while the student continued to attend major games in front of thousands of fans for almost the full season – 11 games – up until his arrest just before Christmas. As a result of the charges, he was not able to play in the Bahamas Bowl, the biggest game of the season.

It’s not clear exactly why it took authorities six months to serve the warrant and make an arrest, such a delay isn’t unheard of.

Digging deeper, this South Florida domestic violence arrest touches on a few issues our criminal defense lawyers feel deserve a closer look.  Continue reading

In a single recent year, Florida law enforcement agencies received 105,700 reports of domestic violence. More than half of those, 63,200, resulted in an arrest. It’s known to be a relatively under-reported crime, but there are a fair number of cases that go to trial wherein the alleged victim refuses to cooperate or testify. It is a myth that prosecutors cannot move forward on these cases or that they cannot sometimes win them. It often depends on the independent evidence available – and the strategy employed by your Florida domestic violence defense attorney. domestic violence defense lawyer Florida

Let’s consider the case of Baker v. State, an appeal before Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal back in 2007. Defendant had been convicted of felony battery for accusations that he attacked his girlfriend, who had called 911 to report the defendant had bitten her and took her phone “and stuff.” She said she did not require medical attention. A police officer was dispatched, observing and photographing what appeared to be a small bite mark on victim’s arm.

Would this be enough to secure a conviction?  Continue reading

City police in Hollywood are taking aim at those previously arrested for domestic violence, vowing beefed up penalties and scrutiny – up to and including unannounced, uninvited police checks on individual residences. police

The Miami Herald reports the letter, an effort initiated by the city police department’s Domestic Violence Unit, is a way of stopping domestic violence acts that may occur in the future at the hands of designated “C list” violators. The city says it is simply targeting repeat domestic violence offenders with the intent to halt the cycle of repeat abuse. They call this approach “focused deterrence.”

There are many, though, who have been highly critical of this approach – including the Broward Public Defender’s Office, which called the tactic an abuse of power. Essentially, they say, the police are punishing and/ or harassing people for an offense that hasn’t yet occurred and may not ever occur.  Continue reading

The intoxication defense is not one that is often used in criminal cases because it is rather difficult to successfully assert. The crux of it, though, is that a defendant, due to intoxication, did not understand the nature of his or her actions or know what he or she was doing, and therefore had limited culpability. pills

The defense typically only applies in very limited circumstances, and often depends on whether intoxication was voluntary or not and the level of intent required by statute for the particular charge at issue.

Recently in Broward County, a defense lawyer on a domestic violence case revealed his intent to assert the intoxication defense on behalf of a U.S. Air Force veteran who served overseas and was suffering severe post-traumatic stress disorder, back pain and depression at the time of the alleged incident.  Continue reading

A senior at Florida International University who played on the football team’s tight end was reportedly the victim of a domestic violence attack that has ended his career. waterboil

The Miami Herald reports the Panthers’ 2017 NFL Draft prospect suffered severe burns on his head, neck, back, arm and shoulder after his girlfriend reportedly dumped boiling water on top of him. The woman, Mary Gaspar, 20, is reportedly five months pregnant with Jonnu Smith’s child, and has been charge with a single count of aggravated battery. Gaspar is also a student at the school, a junior who lives on campus.

The couple were reportedly arguing in Smith’s dorm when defendant is alleged to have boiled the water and walked over and poured it on top of Smith. She reported she was livid over Smith’s failure to attend to their relationship and was feeling extremely stressed out and emotional. When Smith reportedly did not act strongly enough to the boiled water on his skin, Gaspar allegedly started to strike him with her fists. Continue reading

It’s estimated that more than 2,000 people die every year in domestic violence incidents in the U.S. Of those who die, more than 70 percent are women and in more than half of all cases, it’s a firearm that is used to carry out the crime.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Although the issue of availability of firearms is a controversial one in this U.S., but there is little denying the fact that the link between firearms and fatal domestic violence is strong. Just living in a state with a higher rate of gun ownership increases a female’s risk of suffering a fatal gunshot wound in a domestic violence, according to Boston University researchers. That study, released in January, indicated that for every 10 percent increase in gun ownership in a state, there was a 10.2 percent increase in gun-related murders of females.

Additionally, while firearms aren’t necessarily the fuel in domestic violence incidents, their presence does increase the lethality of an attack and also increases the number of victims (i.e., children, grandparents, friends, strangers, etc.). This phenomenon was chronicled recently in a comprehensive article by The Trace. Another thing the presence of a firearm does – whether it’s lethal or even fired – is increase the severity of the charges and the possible punishment. Continue reading

A 20-year-old woman reportedly engaged to a 62-year-old man was shot dead, as was a 50-year-old male friend, allegedly by her fiance who police say was jealous. brokenheart

Authorities told the Sun Sentinel that George McCray, who has a long list of prior felony convictions, shot the pair after discovering the two talking outside victim Sania Copeland’s apartment. This was around 8 a.m. McCray allegedly returned five hours later to carry out the shooting.

According to family members, McCray had told Copeland that if he couldn’t have her, no one could.

McCray is now charged with two counts of murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm.  Continue reading

We hear so much these days not only about domestic violence in general, but also about instances of abuse allegedly carried out by sports stars – and football players in particular. football

According to a USA Today database of NFL player arrests – 821 in total – dozens are for domestic violence, including Denver Broncos’ Montee Ball in February (for allegedly striking his girlfriend in the face), Kansas City Chiefs’ Justin Cox (twice arrested for domestic violence in eight months), San Francisco 49ers’ Raymondo McDonald (allegedly assaulting a woman holding a baby), Detroit Lions’ Rodney Austin (accused of pushing the mother of his child and damaging her phone), 49er Bruce Miller (accused of misdemeanor domestic violence battery).

Those incidents occurred just within the last 12 months. It was so bad in recent years that in December 2014, the NFL announced a new domestic violence policy that includes a more extensive list of prohibited conduct, counseling and services for victims and families, independent investigations and a baseline suspension of six games for any violations that involve assault, battery, domestic violence, dating violence, child abuse or sexual assault.  Continue reading

A Florida woman has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly stabbing her husband seven times in their West Palm Beach home.
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West Palm Beach police reported 39-year-old Christina Balazi was arrested after her husband of 10 years was transported to a local hospital with knife wounds, which were not believed to be life-threatening. The alleged victim reportedly told investigators while at the hospital that his wife suffers from bipolar disorder, and that the stabbing occurred while the pair were being intimate in their home.

Our South Florida criminal defense attorneys understand that as funding for mental health services has been slashed drastically in recent years, what used to be treated at localized treatment centers has now been shifted to emergency rooms, the Department of Children and Families and the criminal justice system. In the event there are allegations or evidence of violence, persons who suffer from mental health issues don’t end up receiving care that could address the underlying issues – they end up in jail.
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