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.
Evidence Used Against You
Some common types of evidence used against Broward domestic violence defendants:
- Their own statements. As you may have heard in just about any “Law and Order” episode, anything you say to police or prosecutors can and will be used against you in a court of law. Unfortunately, far too many domestic violence defendants overestimate their ability to “talk their way out of” a charge – and in the process, end up giving police and the state attorney’s office even more evidence to use against them. This is why we stress time and again the importance of remaining silent until you’ve had the opportunity to talk with your Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney. We recognize it’s an emotionally-charged situation, and you want to clear up any attacks on your character immediately. But it is truly in your best interests to exercise your right to remain silent and let your attorney do that talking for you.
- Cell phone records. Florida police departments, sheriff’s offices, and state attorneys’ offices are staffed with experts who know how to pull data such as text messages, voicemail messages, emails, calendar information, tracking data, banking information, photographs, and social media posts – all from your phone.
- Witness testimony. Of course, investigators are going to talk to the two central people involved in the alleged domestic violence incident. But if possible, they’re going to cast a wider net. They’ll talk to any kids who may have been present, as well as neighbors, family members, friends, local business staff (if the incident occurred in public), etc. What they want to avoid, if possible, is a pure “he-said-she-said” situation. The more independent, third-party sources they speak with, the stronger their case may be.
- Security cameras. Lots of people have security cameras affixed to their front porches. These may be requested or subpoenaed. Same with local business security footage or footage captured by city- or state-operated street cameras. Cell phone videos from other bystanders may also be analyzed.
- Medical evidence. The first officers to arrive on scene will likely take photographs of the victim’s injuries. (If they are too serious and the person requires immediate treatment, this may be delayed.) These will be used later as evidence. Also, any medical reports generated by paramedics, EMS, emergency room doctors and nurses, or other medical personnel will be relevant in a pending domestic violence case.
There may be some instances wherein this evidence can be successfully challenged and suppressed – but that’s unlikely to happen if you try to defend yourself. And of course, there are skilled criminal defense lawyers in the state public defenders’ offices, but they will not be able to devote the time and resources to your case that a private defense attorney will.
If you are accused of domestic violence in South Florida, it is in your best interests to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
State Court Processing of Domestic Violence Cases, March 12, 2008, Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report
More Blog Entries:
Broward Defense Lawyer Breaks Down Florida Criminal Case Process, March 1, 2022, Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog