Non-fatal strangulation involving intimate partners is seen as a bright red flag foreshadowing the risk of domestic violence homicide. In one analysis published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, 60 percent of those who experience domestic violence are strangled during the course of that relationship. If the person loses consciousness, they risk death within one-to-two days due to strokes, aspiration, and blood clots. A person who is strangled once is 800 percent more likely to become a victim of homicide by their partner.
For these reasons, as our Fort Lauderdale domestic violence defense lawyers can explain, Florida prosecutors and the courts are going to take an allegation of domestic violence strangulation very seriously. If convicted, you will be facing substantial penalties, including the possibility of years behind bars.
If you are accused of domestic violence strangulation in Florida, it is imperative that you immediately get in touch with a criminal defense attorney. A lawyer will work to inform you of your rights and obligations, protect you from unwittingly harming your case, and swiftly identify any violation of rights that may impact the strength of the state’s evidence against you.
What is Domestic Violence Strangulation?
Under Florida law, domestic battery by strangulation, as defined in F.S. 784.01, is a felony offense. It’s a charge that can apply when a person commits domestic battery while knowingly, intentionally, and against the will of the other person impedes the normal breathing or circulation of blood of a person, so as to create great bodily harm while applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth. The victim in these cases is a family or household member, a romantic partner (current or previous) or someone with whom you share a child.
This offense is considered a third-degree felony. Although that is technically the lowest level of felony, it still carries potential penalties of up to five years in prison PLUS five years of probation PLUS $5,000 in fines – not to mention restrictions on firearms possession and mandatory batterers’ intervention courses (which you must pay for). If there are aggravating circumstances, such as use of a deadly weapon or a victim who is a minor, the charge could be bumped to a second-degree felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. This is also true if the alleged victim suffers serious or lasting injury or death. Those with prior criminal records will likely face more significant penalties as well.
It’s important for anyone facing a Florida charge for domestic violence strangulation to understand that prosecutors are aggressive when it comes to this charge. They will be pressing the courts for extended periods of prison time and probation oversight. Even if this is the only time you’ve ever been in trouble with the law, you can expect that they are going to try to throw the book at you. And because this is a domestic violence case, it doesn’t matter if the alleged victim wants to “drop the charges.” They don’t have the authority to do so. Only the prosecutor does. This is another reason you need to have an attorney with specific experience in domestic violence cases representing you.
Failure to Seek South Florida Domestic Violence Attorney Help Can Hamper Your Case
This is a charge that will substantially impact you for the rest of your life if you’re convicted.
Some of the ways in which defendants in domestic violence cases can be adversely impacted when they don’t hire a defense lawyer with domestic violence experience right away:
- You won’t be aware if police or prosecutors have violated your constitutional rights. Defendants in Florida criminal cases have several key rights which are applicable before, during, and after arrest. If these rights are violated, they may be used in your defense. But if you don’t know them, you may be unaware of how this can work to your favor.
- You risk potentially saying something that could hurt your case. Defendants often don’t realize that there is really very little chance that they’re going to “talk their way out of” a serious charge in a case like this. The very best thing you can do is have your lawyer present and answering questions on your behalf.
- You will miss opportunities to protect yourself prior to trial. Defense attorneys can help you in many ways leading up to a trial, including seeking reduced bail, filing pre-trial motions to suppress certain evidence, and moving to dismiss certain charges altogether. We also provide guidance to clients about what they should and should not do prior to trial. For example, we may instruct our client to avoid posting certain content on social media or talking to certain individuals about your case while it’s still pending.
- You may have less opportunity to negotiate a favorable plea deal. Plea deal negotiations should only take place when you’ve got an experienced criminal defense attorney advocating on your behalf. There are many skilled defense lawyers who are court-appointed, but they may not be able to devote the time and resources to your case that a private attorney would.
- You may have limited options for appealing. Criminal defense lawyers take a number of steps during trial that specifically protect your right to an appeal should the outcome not be favorable to you. However, if these steps aren’t taken, you will have a very difficult time challenging a possible conviction.
If you have been arrested on a domestic violence charge in South Florida, our Broward criminal defense lawyers can help.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
More Blog Entries:
Understanding Florida Criminal Sentence Enhancements for Prior Felony Offenders, May 1, 2022, Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Lawyer Blog