Definition of Domestic Battery

In Florida, Domestic Battery is defined as an intentional and unconsented touching or striking of another person when such person is a “family or household member.”

‘Family’ or ‘Household Members’

Under Section 741.28, Florida Statutes, the term ‘family or household member’ can include the following:

  • Wives and husbands;
  • Ex-wives and ex-husbands;
  • Individuals related by blood or marriage;
  • Individuals living together as a family;
  • Individuals who have resided together as if a family in the past; and
  • Persons who have a child in common (regardless of prior marriage).

With the exceptions of persons who have a child in common, the statute requires that the family or household members reside together presently or in the past.

Penalties for Domestic Battery

Domestic Battery is classified as a first degree misdemeanor, with penalties that may include up to one year in jail or twelve months probation, and a $1,000 fine.

Additional Penalties

Additional penalties for Domestic Battery include the following:

  • Completion of a 26 week Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP);
  • 12 months of probation;
  • 5 days required jail (if the defendant is adjudicated guilty and there is bodily injury); See Section 741.283;
  • Additional community service hours;
  • Loss of important civil liberties, including concealed carry rights;
  • Imposition of an injunction or ‘no contact’ order.

Sealing or Expunging Domestic Charges

Under Florida law, a person who commits an act of domestic violence battery or any other domestic-related crime of violence is ineligible to have his or her record sealed or expunged, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld.

Thus, a plea to a domestic charge creates a lifetime criminal record.

Defenses to Domestic Battery

Domestic battery is often a defendable charge.  Some of the most common defenses include:

Criminal Defense Strategies

There are a multitude of strategies to defend against a domestic battery charge.

Attorney Representation

The importance of hiring an attorney in Domestic Battery cases cannot be overstated. The possibility that a charge will dropped, amended, or diverted increases substantially with private counsel.

Early Negotiation

One of the key advantages of hiring a private attorney is the ability to make early contact with the prosecution. The early presentation of factual defenses, legal issues, and mitigating circumstances can have a dramatic impact on the State’s decision to move forward with the case.

Contacting the Victim

Domestic Battery charges are most effectively addressed at the earliest stages of the case, before formal charges are filed. Even when a ‘no contact’ order has been imposed, an attorney can contact the alleged victim to see if he or she wishes to pursue the charge.

The attorney can further present information on the steps that can be taken to request that charges be dropped.  The State Attorney’s Office will generally require that the victim complete a drop-charge affidavit, complete a course, or meet with a Domestic Violence advocate in order to decline prosecution.

Addressing the ‘No Contact’ Order

In domestic battery cases where the alleged victim does not wish to pursue charges, the parties should seek to immediately modify any No Contact Orders that have been imposed by the court.  This is accomplished through the filing of Motion to Modify Conditions of Release.

The modifying or lifting of a ‘no contact’ order not only enables the parties to resume contact and further coordinate their efforts to have the charges dropped, it sends an additional signal that the alleged victim is not cooperative and is against any further prosecution.

Seeking Help Voluntarily

In many cases, it is appropriate for a defendant and/or victim to be proactive and voluntarily enroll in counseling or other psychological or substance abuse services.  Voluntary participation in such programs can often have a dramatic impact on prosecutor decision-making.

Pretrial Motions

Where a domestic violence charge cannot be disposed of in the early stages of the case, pretrial motions can provide additional impetus for a drop or reduction in charge.  Some common examples include ‘Stand Your Ground’ Motions and Motions in Limine.

Trial Readiness

Battery-Domestic Violence prosecutions often result in trial. For this reason, both the defendant and the attorney must show resolve and trial-readiness for the duration of the case.  This can play a major role in having a charge dropped, reduced, or diverted.

Contact An Attorney

If you have been arrested for Domestic Battery in Jacksonville or the surrounding counties of Northeast Florida, contact Hussein & Webber, PL for a free consultation.