Articles Tagged with Broward domestic violence lawyer

Broward domestic violence cases often arise in the heat of the moment. Often by the next morning, both parties have cooled considerably and clearer heads prevail. It’s at this point the alleged victim may start looking into the possibility of signing a waiver of prosecution. Broward domestic violence defense lawyer

A waiver of prosecution, also sometimes called a declination of prosecution, is a sworn statement that informs the prosecutor, judge, and defense layer that they do not wish to prosecute or “press charges.”

The crux of this statement is basically two-fold:

  • The alleged victim formally states they do not want to press charges or cooperate with prosecutors.
  • The police report statements that were attributed to the alleged victim are either inaccurate or incomplete.

Sometimes, our Broward domestic violence defense lawyers are approached by the alleged victims of our clients to inquire about how they can go about getting the charges dismissed.

A few things we must outline for them at the start: Continue reading

Recently, Florida prosecutors dropped criminal domestic violence charges against a professional boxer who had been accused of striking his ex-girlfriend in front of their child. Part of what factored into that decision was that the defendant agreed to complete an Anger Management class and both agreed to begin meeting with a counselor to work on peaceful, effective co-parenting strategies. But probably the biggest reason? The victim recanted her testimony and insisted she no longer wanted to proceed with the case. Broward domestic violence lawyer

According to local media reports, the pair were arguing over use of a vehicle when the defendant allegedly hit the woman on the side of her head with a closed hand. She called police twice, at one point telling dispatchers that the defendant had attacked and was going to kill her. He was arrested on misdemeanor charges, and bonded out. A few days later, the woman told investigators he’d never harmed her or their daughter, and said they were both responsible for the fight. She no longer wished to proceed with the case.

This raises the question: How much does a victim’s testimony truly matter in a Broward domestic violence case?

The answer depends on the unique facts of the situation, but a victim’s testimony is typically central to a domestic violence case. However, their cooperation is not. As a Fort Lauderdale domestic violence defense lawyers can explain, an alleged victim is not empowered to unilaterally decide whether to drop a domestic violence case or proceed with it. That’s because even though they are the person wronged, the charges actually refer to a violation of state law. So it’s the state’s case and decision whether to press on – not the victim’s.

Of course, as in most criminal cases, the testimony of a credible victim can be as powerful as any physical evidence. If the story changes or is recanted, their credibility is compromised and the case becomes harder to pursue.

However, Florida domestic violence cases are unique compared to other types of criminal matters. The reason is because it is incredibly common for alleged victims of domestic violence to recant or refuse to cooperate, courts courts have made special evidence exceptions to make it easier for prosecutors to get around the issue and still pursue these “victimless prosecutions.” Perhaps the most commonly-employed workaround is the hearsay exception. Continue reading

Florida has strong and well-established “stand your ground” self-defense laws. But can you successfully argue self-defense in a South Florida domestic violence case? Broward domestic violence

The short answer is: Yes – but you better have solid evidence.

As our Broward County domestic violence defense lawyers can explain, there are a number of state laws pertaining to self-defense and how it should be applied in Florida criminal cases. Most of these can be found in Chapter 776 of Florida Statutes, which outlines the criteria for Justifiable Use of Force.

Among these:

  • F.S. 776.102, Use or threatened use of force in defense of person. This statute holds that a person can be justified in threatening to use force or actually doing so against someone else when he/she reasonably believes that doing so is necessary to defend themselves against the other person’s unlawful use of force. However, they can’t use deadly force for this purpose – unless he/she reasonably believes that doing so is needed to halt imminent risk of death or serious injury to themself or someone else. In both cases, there is no duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force.
  • F.S. 776.013, Home protection; use or threatened use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm. This provision states a person who is lawfully inside a dwelling or residence doesn’t have a responsibility to retreat if they feel threatened in that space. They can stand their ground and use force or threaten to use force. As for the degree of force, it can only be deadly if the person has a reasonable belief that they must do so in order to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to themselves or another person OR to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
  • F.S. 776.031, Use or threatened use of force in defense of property. A person can use or threaten to use force against someone else when and to the extent that individual believes doing so is necessary to prevent or terminate another person’s trespassing on personal property or criminal or tortious interference with personal property in their possession (or in possession of an immediate family/household member). Force can only be deadly if one reasonably believes using it is needed to stop the imminent commission of a forcible felony. (Forcible felonies are those that involve the use of physical force against another human being.)

If you’ve used justifiable force, then you would not be subject to prosecution. However, there is another provision worthy of consideration if the underlying circumstances involved an allegation of domestic violence:

  • F.S. 776.041, use or threatened use of force by aggressor. Use of force won’t be considered justifiable if the person accused was either attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of a forcible felony OR that individual initially provoked the use or threatened use of force against themselves. (There are exceptions to the latter half if the use of force was so great they believed themselves in danger of imminent death or serious injury or they’d exhausted every other reasonable means to escape such danger OR they tried in good faith to withdraw from physical contact and indicates clearly their desire to withdraw/terminate use or threatened use of force.)

Risks of a Self-Defense Argument in a Florida Domestic Violence Case

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If you’re arrested for domestic violence in Florida, it’s important to understand the pretrial process for such offenses is different than it is for other alleged crimes. One of the biggest differences is that defendants arrested for Florida domestic violence will not be able to post bail immediately after being booked into jail.Broward domestic violence lawyer

It’s important if you’re arrested for domestic violence to understand that talking to police or other investigators about what happened before you’ve spoken to a defense lawyer won’t speed up this process – and may well hurt your case.

Domestic violence is defined in F.S. 741.28 as the commission of certain crimes against a family or household member. Such crimes include assault, battery, sexual assault or sexual battery, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other offense that causes the physical injury or death of a family or household member. Someone is considered a “family or household member” if they are spouses, former spouses, related to one another by blood or marriage, living together as if they are a family (or used to), and those who share a child – regardless of whether they’ve ever married or lived together.

Mandatory Court Appearances in Florida Domestic Violence Cases Prior to Bond

There are some crimes for which you can be arrested, booked, post bail, and walk out of jail in a matter of a few hours. But that is not the case for alleged crimes of domestic violence.

As our Broward domestic violence defense lawyers can explain, Florida statute requires the defendant to appear in court before a judge before they can post bail and be released. That initial hearing – called a first appearance – must be held within 24 hours of an arrest. During the hearing, the prosecutor is required to come prepared with:

  • Defendant’s prior arrest record, including any previous domestic violence offenses – whether with the same alleged victim or someone else.
  • Any current or former injunctions for protection filed against the defendant.
  • Any previous walk-in complaints of domestic violence against the defendant.

That information is presented to the judge for consideration of whether to allow bail and if so, how high to set it. In addition to the defendant’s criminal history, the court will consider the details of the pending charge and whether the safety of the alleged victim or others may be compromised by defendant’s release on bail.

What to Expect at Your First Appearance Hearing

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When Florida law enforcement officers interact with the public in the course of their duties, there are three levels of interaction that will dictate how any search or seizure in the course of that interaction will be judged from a legal perspective.

These three levels of interaction are:

  • Consensual encounters.
  • Detention or investigative stops.
  • Arrests.Broward criminal defense lawyer

Within each of these interactions, the person involved has constitutionally-protected rights. But those constitutional protections are different at each level. If those rights are violated, then it is more likely that your Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer will have some success in convincing the court to suppress evidence gleaned in that interaction. Here, we review the rights and protections at each level.

Consensual Encounters

Consensual encounters with police in Florida don’t require officers to establish any sort of evidence of wrongdoing. There’s no bright line rule for when an encounter is consensual vs. investigative, but we can say that a key aspect of consensual police encounters is that the person at the center of the interaction is free to leave.

The lines can get a little fuzzy because courts have held that law enforcement is allowed during a consensual encounter to ask you questions, ask to see your ID, might even ask to search your vehicle. If they say or imply that complying with their requests is mandatory, then it’s no longer a consensual encounter. However, police encounters can often be intimidating and people sometimes feel they don’t have much of a choice – even when they do. If you consent to answer questions or to be searched during a consensual encounter, it can be difficult to challenge any evidence gleaned from that – because you freely agreed to it. You’re often better off keeping your answers brief, politely declining any requests to search, and asking point blank whether you’re free to go.

In determining whether a police interaction began with a consensual encounter (as opposed to an investigative stop), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1980 case of U.S. v. Mendenhall that courts should examine the totality of circumstances – and specifically, whether a reasonable person believed themselves free to go. Continue reading

If you are arrested in a Broward domestic violence case, you may be wondering what evidence the state might use against you.Fort Lauderdale domestic violence

As experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys, we know at the outset exactly the sorts of things prosecutors are going to be deep diving for to make their case.

Just like in any Florida criminal case, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution to prove in court that a crime was committed and that the accused is guilty of it. They are held to the highest standard of proof, which is beyond a reasonable doubt. Despite this, they have a fairly good conviction rate for domestic violence cases. According to one study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, domestic violence sexual assault defendants are more likely to be prosecuted (89 percent) than non-domestic sexual assault defendants (73 percent). Domestic violence defendants were as likely to be prosecuted (66 percent) as non-domestic assault defendants (67 percent), but their conviction rates are substantially higher (87 percent versus 78 percent).

Elements of a Florida Domestic Violence Charge

If you’re facing a charges under F.S. 784.03 (battery and felony battery)¬†what the prosecution basically has to show is:

  • The defendant actually and intentionally struck the other person against that person’s will.
  • The defendant intentionally caused bodily harm to another person.

If the prosecution is trying to prove a domestic violence crime specifically under F.S. 741.28, they will need to show the basic elements of the underlying crime (which can include assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment or any criminal offense relating to physical injury) AND that the target was a family or household member. A family or household member can mean a spouse, people related to you by blood or marriage, people who reside together as if they are a family (or who have in the past), or someone with whom you share a child. Unless you share a child together, domestic violence can only be established if the defendant and accuser currently live together as a family or had in the past. Continue reading

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