- Domestic Battery
- Simple Battery
Domestic Battery charges can carry serious consequences, including mandatory jail time. The police often tell the parties involved that at least one person has to be arrested when they are called out. Law enforcement often makes a judgment based on very little evidence. Most of the time, they will arrest the person that failed to call the police during the dispute. Because of this, people may be arrested that don't deserve to be arrested. Many times, the "man of the house" rides to jail simply because of an argument.
Domestic Battery charges are viewed today in a post 9/11 world. Anyone convicted of a Domestic Battery is often considered "dangerous" to agencies that issue access passes to ports and airports. Anyone with a Domestic Battery conviction is usually excluded from coaching youth sports. Future gun ownership is also jeopardized under state and federal law. The convicted person’s current and future rights to gun ownership are affected.
Today, even apartment complexes and certain trailer parks will deny leasing or occupancy to those convicted of domestic battery. The Landlords are not going to rent to someone who has a history of violence. The potential liability to the owners outweighs any financial benefit of renting to a future tenant who now has a documented, easily found history of violence. The first pages of any plaintiffs lawsuit would mention that it was foreseeable for this violent actor to act on again. The same logic applies to current and future employers who may face liability for workplace violence, also easily foreseen.
In North Florida the majority of folks arrested for domestic battery will be placed on misdemeanor probation with 22-26 weekly classes court ordered and scheduled. These classes cost money, have homework assignments and require the probationer or attendee to have a good positive attitude. The instructors have the ability, at their discretion, to throw people out of their program. If one fails to complete the program, this triggers a violation report which the probation officer sends to the respective county court judge. The judge then signs a Capias (bench Warrant), many of them having no bond, and the violated probationer sooner or later returns to jail. Now the person sits in jail for a timeframe of two weeks on average before he goes back to his original judge on the probation violation.
The costs of classes, probation monitoring fees and the statutory fines and costs currently total $2000 to $2200 which need to be paid, at the longest, in the first eleven out of twelve months on probation. A large number of people arrested for domestic battery are totally unfamiliar with the system. Typically, they are offered the above-mentioned probationary sentence at bond hearing or first appearance court. Rather than pleading not guilty and just trying to bond out, well over half of the recently arrested defendants will enter a plea, sign up for probation and achieve their immediate goal of being released from jail later that day. Bonds can run high in Jacksonville. Working class people will often plea while asking this exact question “Does this mean I get out today?” Yes, they get out but rarely, at the time, do they realize the lifelong implications. Across the board, they have entered a plea to get out of jail after one of the worst nights in their lives. Many plead to cases that, later on, have pitfalls and problems for the state attorney’s office to successfully prosecute, and thus, the cases are dropped. The state attorney’s office uses a specialized division to prosecute domestic batteries. These cases are victim-driven to a large extent with the victims attending classes and signing “drop” paperwork if they do not want the defendant prosecuted further. Regardless of victim input, the decision to stay on the prosecutorial path belongs to the state attorney not the victim.
Finally, a domestic violence charge, even though a misdemeanor, cannot be sealed or expunged under Florida law. This is true even if the court withheld adjudication (stopped short of a conviction).
An attorney can thoroughly investigate the issues in the case, including self-defense, the relationship of the parties, the steps the police took in their investigation, talk to witnesses, and collect evidence the police didn't bother to gather.
Contact our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorneys today for a free initial consultation.