Unfortunately emotions can get out of control with those that are closest to us. Many people think that domestic violence can only occur between two lovers or a married couple. This is not the case. Domestic violence can occur between any individuals that are living together at the time of the incident or that lived together as a family at some other point in time. Domestic violence can occur where a father has struck his son; where a husband forces sexual intercourse on his wife; where a former boyfriend stalks his x-girlfriend; or where a mother imprisons her child. Many years ago domestic violence charges were dropped based on the wishes of the victim. Studies of domestic violence have changed the way law enforcement and state attorneys pursue domestic violence charges. Many in our court system believe that domestic violence left unchecked will create a cycle of violence that could eventually lead to serious bodily injury or death. As a consequence, the legislature and the courts have created enhanced penalties for crimes against a family member or girlfriend where the sanctions would otherwise be far less severe.
A Tampa domestic violence attorney realizes how common false accusations can occur in a domestic situation. Many times an overly emotional spouse will use the threat of criminal charges to manipulate their partner. A former wife might falsely accuse her soon to be x-husband of domestic violence in an effort to gain leverage in divorce court. It is not uncommon for a former spouse to falsely accuse the other of sexual acts against their children in order to gain sole custody. The highly politicized nature of domestic violence has caused law enforcement to approach these situations in a much different way than years past. When they arrive on scene they are typically confronted with an emotionally charged situation. Instead of risking further violence between the parties the police will typically make an arrest of one of the parties if there is any chance that a crime actually occurred. This approach obviously leads to many wrongful arrests. On the other hand, a worse situation can arise where law enforcement chooses not to make an arrest at the time of the incident and lets the prosecutor’s office make a decision to file a formal charge at a later point in time. This fact emphasizes how important it is to hire an experienced Tampa criminal attorney to approach the state attorney’s office immediately.
An Immediate Response is Critical to the Ultimate Result
There is a very common misconception surrounding criminal law. “I’ve been charged with a crime because the police officer arrested me.” This is not the case. Only the state attorney’s office has the power to formally charge someone with a crime. Even after an arrest a state attorney will review the facts and information contained in the officer’s police report and make a formal filing decision. If the proper steps are taken to contact the prosecutor before a filing decision a charge can be “no filed” even after a physical arrest. In contrast, just because a police officer has chosen not to arrest you at the scene does not mean you should have no fear of being arrested at some later point in time. Even after a non-arrest the officer will submit his findings to the state attorney who will then make the ultimate decision as to whether a charge will be filed. It is not uncommon for an unsuspecting client to get arrested months after an officer has started his initial investigation. As a consequence, whether you were arrested at the scene or you avoided arrest out the onset of an investigation it is critical that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. Many times criminal charges can be reduced if not completely avoided by retaining an aggressive Tampa criminal defense attorney who can begin defending your interests with the prosecutor at the start of the investigation. Otherwise, the prosecutor will make a filing decision based solely on the information he/she receives from the victim and law enforcement.
Enhanced Penalties for Domestic Violence in Florida
Domestic violence charges are treated differently than your garden variety battery charge. Additional penalties may be imposed by the court which include:
Mandatory jail sentence if convicted
Participation in 26 weeks of domestic violence classes
Ineligibility for sealing or expungement of the record
Loss of your right to own a firearm
Loss of your concealed weapons permit
Greater exposure to a domestic violence injunction
Many Reasons You Might be Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence
Spouses, girlfriends, and family members falsely accuse others of domestic violence for a myriad of different reasons. This list is by no means complete but many accusations can stem from the following:
Alcohol and/or substance abuse
Separation or divorce; especially where child custody might be involved
In an effort to retain a domestic violence injunction
Pure spite or vindictiveness
Your Case Requires a Unique Defense
While your case may be rooted in one of the motivations listed above it does not mean that your case is just like many others. To the contrary, even where allegations have similarities every case has a unique set of facts which require an individualized defense. There could be a reasonable explanation for the victim’s injuries or the injuries may be so minor that prosecution of the charge is unnecessary. Either way, the sooner steps are taken to contact the prosecutor and reveal the truth the more likely your charges will be dismissed.
Legal Representation with Your Future in Mind
Don’t try to face the State Attorney’s office on your own or expect the State Attorney to drop your charges because you did nothing wrong. Whatever your station in life domestic violence charges can have far reaching effects. Will Hanlon has been representing criminal charges for over 20 years. He is acutely aware of all the emotional factors that can create a domestic violence charge and more importantly he possesses the knowledge and experience to lead you out of the nightmares this charge can create. He will immediately begin aggressively pursuing your defense with the prosecution in an effort to bring about a dismissal of your charge(s). Call Will Hanlon today so he can begin taking steps to protect your future immediately.