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.
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