West Palm Beach Domestic Violence
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Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner. In Florida, domestic violence is the target of aggressive prosecution and if you've been charged with this offense, you will need a dedicated West Palm Beach criminal attorney to help resolve your case.
Most people associate domestic violence with a fight between a husband and wife - however domestic violence can be between any family member or intimate partner, and can include:
- Assault or battery
- Child abuse
- Sex crimes
- Emotional abuse
- Physical abuse
Domestic violence is viewed as a form of battery or assault, but with much more severe penalties. It may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, with up to one year in prison for a misdemeanor and a life sentence for a felony such as molestation of a minor family member. You may even be required to undergo counseling or domestic violence classes required by the court. Your right to own and operate firearms may also be revoked, and you will receive a permanent criminal record.
Types of Restraining Orders
Reported victims of domestic violence can choose from five types of restraining orders in Florida, which all provide legal protection from their alleged abusers. Also known as “injunctions,” each type of restraining order provides different types of protection for domestic violence victims. Once an injunction is filed against you, you must follow strict rules at all times, or else you may go to jail for violating a restraining order.
It’s important to remember that domestic violence involves a variety of violent acts, therefore, a reported domestic violence victim may file a stalking or sexual violence injunction against you instead of a domestic violence injunction. However, that doesn’t mean you are off the hook, as you may later face domestic violence charges.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the various types of restraining orders below:
Domestic violence: This requires the petitioner (the victim) and the respondent (you) to be family or household members who are or were living together in the same place unless you have a child together. Parents of a child don’t need to be married or living together. The petitioner must show that they are a victim of domestic violence or reasonably believe that they are in immediate danger of becoming a victim.
Once a domestic violence injunction is filed in Florida, victims are protected from violence or contact. As such, you may be required to leave the shared living unit and not return for a specified period of time, leaving your children in the custody of the reported victim. You may also be required to surrender your guns and ammunition depending on whether or not the injunction is temporary or permanent, as well as attend a Batterers’ Intervention Program (BIP).
Sexual violence: This type of restraining order protects the petitioner from a respondent who went to jail for sexual violence against the petitioner and the respondent’s prison term already expired or will expire within 90 days. Once filed, a sexual violence injunction will prohibit the respondent from owning guns and ammunition as well as committing violence against or having contact with the victim and minor children. For background, sexual violence includes but is not limited to:
- Sexual battery
- A lewd or lascivious act upon or in presence of a person younger than 16
- Luring or enticing a child
- Sexual performance by a child
Dating violence: To get a dating violence injunction, you and the petitioner must have dated within the past 6 months and had a relationship built on affection, rather than merely a casual relationship. Once a dating violence injunction is filed, you may be ordered to give up your guns and ammunition and refrain from further violence or contact with the victim and any minor children involved. To receive this type of protection, the petitioner must show that they are either:
- A victim of dating violence and have a reasonable fear of experiencing repeat dating violence
- In reasonable fear of becoming a victim of dating violence
Repeat violence: This requires at least two incidents of violence or stalking against the petitioner or an immediate family member, with one incident occurring in the past 6 months. To get a repeat violence injunction, the petitioner must fear repeat violence from you, the respondent. Once it’s granted, this type of restraining order will protect the petitioner and children from further violence or contact and may require you to surrender your guns and ammunition.
Stalking/cyberstalking: In order to get this type of restraining order against you, the reported victim must have experienced at least two incidents of stalking or cyberstalking. Once granted, a stalking injunction will require you to stop committing further stalking or cyberstalking, get treatment at your own expense, and may require you to give up your guns and ammunition.
As you can see, it only takes a reasonable fear of violence or stalking to get a restraining order. Thus, a person could easily ruin your life if they successfully argue to a judge that you are an imminent threat who must stay away. For example, if you got into a heated fight with your girlfriend and ended up throwing objects across the room, slamming doors, and punching holes in the walls, she may use this incident as a reason to get a dating violence restraining order against you.
External Factors in Domestic Violence Cases
Defending these cases can be difficult because deeper issues are often the prime cause:
- Pending divorce
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Child custody disagreements
- Spiteful family members
Resolving Domestic Violence Charges in Florida
At The Law Offices of Phillip T. Ridolfo, Jr., I am confident that with my 25 years of experience in these matters and eagerness to fight for your constitutional rights, I can help you sort through this. Ideally I can get the domestic violence charges dropped with a plan worked out to restore harmony between you and the accuser. I will personally handle your case with the utmost professionalism and will never hand the case over to a junior attorney, paralegal or secretary.
Contact my firm at (561) 475-2752 today for more information!