If you’re arrested for domestic violence in Fort Lauderdale, the very best thing you can do to minimize the impact this will have on your life is to immediately hire a Broward domestic violence defense lawyer. Even if you’re “only” facing misdemeanor assault or battery charges, the classification of this crime as one of domestic violence has a whole host of implications that can result in immediate impact and long-term consequences far outside of the realm of a “typical” crime. When you work with a skilled domestic violence defense attorney right from the start, you’re not only better prepared, you can be proactive – possibly preventing some of the most significant penalties.
Domestic violence is defined in F.S. 741.28 as any assault, battery, sexual assault/battery, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other criminal offense that results in the physical injury or death of one family member/household member by another family/household member. These can be married couples, ex-married couples, people related by blood or marriage, people living together as a family, people who previously lived together as a family, and people who share a child together (regardless of whether they ever lived together or were married). Domestic violence charges will not apply to those who are dating, but have no kids and never lived together (though violence between them may still result in criminal charges).
But just because you’ve been arrested doesn’t necessarily mean the case is going to be successfully prosecuted. In fact, as an experienced Broward domestic violence defense lawyer, I can tell you prosecutors often have a tough time proving these accusations beyond a reasonable doubt. But knowing how to successfully challenge their evidence is essential. Some of the ways in which a skilled domestic violence defense attorney can help right from the start:
- Filing for a fast release from jail. If you’re arrested for domestic violence in Florida, you won’t be immediately released. Typically, you’re held in jail at least until you’ve had your first court appearance. At that time, the court will look at your prior record (previous domestic violence arrests in particular), any prior/existing/pending orders of protection, and any walk-in domestic violence complaints against you. The judge/magistrate will consider all this in deciding how high to set your bond – or whether you should be given bond at all. No one wants to spend a moment more in jail than they absolutely must. The best way to negotiate a fast(er) release is with the help of an experienced domestic violence defense attorney advocating on your behalf. We know exactly what the courts will be assessing, and what will be needed to provide assurance that you deserve your freedom as soon as possible – and for as low a monetary fee as possible – while the case is being investigated.
- Initiating a fast, independent investigation. The sooner we can dive into the particulars of your case, the greater likelihood that important evidence will be preserved. This is very important in domestic violence because there is often a great deal of he-said-she-said. Any opportunity for independent verification of certain facts is one that must be seized, and these efforts are more likely to be successful the earlier we’re brought on to a case.
- Convincing the prosecutor to quickly drop charges. Better yet, we may be able to persuade them to decline pursuit of the case before charges are officially filed. This is the only way in Florida you’ll have a shot at getting a domestic violence arrest expunged. Otherwise, that arrest is staying permanently on your record – even if you aren’t ultimately convicted.
- Negotiating with prosecutor to file the charges under something other than the “domestic violence” label. You might still be charged with battery (or hopefully, some lesser offense), but avoiding the “domestic violence” classification can help you avoid a host of side effects that automatically come with that label. These can include inability to seal/expunge the record, revocation of firearm rights, implications for child custody/parenting time arrangements, harsher penalties, higher expectations for successful pretrial diversions (batterer’s intervention classes, etc.). This probably isn’t something a prosecutor is going to consider unless the evidence is fairly weak and/or the defendant is willing to plead guilty to that lesser charge. We advise clients whether it’s worth it in your case.
- Advising our client of what to say, what not to say, and to whom. Far too often, a defendant is their own worst enemy. Your words – spoken, written, texted, recorded, posted – can and often will be used against you in court. Whether you’ve talked to police, communicated with the alleged victim, confided in a friend, or posted on social media – all of it is potentially admissible in court. The less you say, the less evidence you provide prosecutors to use against you. This is important even if you’re completely innocent. Too often, defendants think if they can just tell their side of the story, police/prosecutors will see the reason in it. But there are far too many potential legal pitfalls to risk doing so without an attorney. Let us be your voice when it comes to the investigation/prosecution. And let us advise you of when and how to limit your speech to others – whether they’re involved or not.
- Developing a defense strategy. Every case is different. Domestic violence cases have some particular challenges that aren’t as much of an issue in other types of criminal matters. Having a defense lawyer with extensive experience – and a track record of success – specifically in this area of criminal law is important. When we can identify a solid defense strategy early on in the case, we can stay consistent and give you the best chance for a favorable outcome.
Penalties for domestic violence convictions in Florida can be steep. Hire a defense lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Domestic Violence Overview, 2020, FloridaCourts.gov
More Blog Entries:
Is Evidence of Prior Bad Acts Admissible in Florida Domestic Violence Cases? April 28, 2023, Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Lawyer Blog