Domestic Battery Defenses
Domestic battery in Florida occurs when a perpetrator of violence has a certain family or household relationship with the victim. Domestic battery can involve touching, hitting, kicking, or some other type of striking, so long as that relationship exists between perpetrator and victim. If you are charged with domestic battery, it’s advisable to consult an experienced St. Petersburg domestic violence attorney. You shouldn’t assume a conviction is assured. Strong domestic battery defenses may be available to you.Domestic Battery Defenses
Under Florida Statutes section 741.28, you can be charged with domestic violence if you have any of the following family or household member relationships with the victim: spouse, ex-spouse, blood relative, relative by marriage, living together as a family, having lived together as a family in the past, or having a child in common irrespective of marital status. For the prosecutor to establish a domestic battery case, you and the victim need to be currently living together, or to have previously lived together, in one dwelling unit, except where you have a child in common with the victim. Domestic battery is usually a first degree misdemeanor charge.
When charged as a first degree misdemeanor, a domestic battery conviction may result in a maximum of 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Additionally, you need to complete 12 months of probation, complete a Batterer’s Intervention Program, perform community service, and follow a no contact order. You may lose your civil liberties. The penalties are harsher when domestic battery is charged as a felony. You should not assume any of these penalties are guaranteed, however. Certain domestic battery defenses may apply in your case.Domestic Battery Defenses
Domestic battery charges can be highly sensitive. They may implicate matters related to alcohol or drug use, mental health problems, a pending divorce or child custody matter (or both), and injunctions from prior cases. Sometimes family members bear ill will towards each other.
Domestic battery defenses can include poking holes in the prosecuting attorney’s account of the violence. It may be possible to eliminate the prosecution’s ability to prove a particular element of the offense of domestic battery. For example, you might be able to defend against the charges by showing that you had consent to touch the other family member. In other words, it may be possible to show the touching or striking wasn’t intentional.
Sometimes raising reasonable doubt involves casting doubt on the credibility of a witness. Perhaps the witness has a motive, such as a family law dispute, to be dishonest in their testimony. Perhaps the witness was drinking at the time of the alleged offense, and her memory isn’t clear enough to make her testimony credible. It may be possible to show a victim is vindictive, that her allegations aren’t corroborated by any evidence other than her testimony, or that her allegations are contradicted by other evidence. For example, if you are left-handed, and she claims you struck her in a particular way that could only happen if you were right-handed, this contradiction could generate reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors. Like other crimes, domestic battery must be established beyond a reasonable doubt.
In other cases, there may be factual discrepancies in the witnesses’ accounts of the violence giving rise to the charge. It may be possible to show that the victim misunderstood your actions, or that someone else who witnessed the events misunderstood.
Sometimes an affirmative defense is appropriate. If the victim struck you first, you may be able to argue that your actions were in self defense. If the victim was committing violence towards someone else, such as your children, it may be possible to raise defense of others. Other affirmative defenses include consensual confrontation, Stand Your Ground, and defense of property. All of these defenses acknowledge your actions, but provide legal justification for them.Consult a Seasoned Domestic Battery Attorney in St. Petersburg
You may be concerned about domestic battery defenses if you’ve been charged with this offense in St. Petersburg. Domestic violence cases are often sensitive. At Hanlon Law, our founding lawyer Will Hanlon has defended the accused for many years. Please contact us at 727.289.0222 or via our online form to learn more about your legal options.