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Florida Domestic Violence Laws: Definitions & Penalties

Domestic violence in Florida is considered a dangerous crime. If a family dispute gets out of control and you are arrested for DV, you may face mandatory minimum imprisonment, and probation, among other severe consequences. An Orlando domestic violence attorney can help you fight your charges. 

In 2020, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement published that there were 106,515 reports of domestic violence offenses across the state. If you are fighting domestic violence allegations, it is important that you get familiar with Florida domestic violence laws. The following sections will provide you with relevant information such as:

  • What Is Domestic Violence in Florida
  • Penalties for DV
  • Potential Defenses for Domestic Violence
  • Florida Domestic Violence Statistics

If you were arrested or are facing charges, you should seek legal representation. At Z. Hernandez Law, we believe in second chances. Speak to our compassionate Orlando domestic violence attorney to explore your legal options.

Elements of Domestic Violence in Florida

In a broad definition, domestic violence in Florida takes place when a person uses physical force without consent, threatens to use violence, or holds a household member against their will. 

Many people have the misconception that domestic violence necessarily implies physical violence. However, according to Florida domestic violence laws, domestic violence encompasses the following criminal offenses:

  • Any form of assault
  • Any form of battery
  • Sexual assault 
  • Simple and aggravated stalking
  • Kidnapping 
  • False imprisonment 
  • Any criminal offense that results in death or injury

Although these crimes can be perpetrated against anyone, a key element of domestic violence in Florida is that these offenses are directed toward a family or household member. 

According to the Florida Statute §741.28 (3), household members can be:

  • Children.
  • People who have a child in common regardless if they do or do not live together.
  • Spouse or former spouse.
  • People related by blood or marriage. 
  • People who live or have lived together as a family. 

Domestic violence allegations should not be taken lightly. In fact, if a police officer has probable cause to believe that you committed an act of DV, they can arrest you without a warrant. Furthermore, you will be held in custody until your bail hearing. 

Our Orlando domestic violence attorney, Zarina Hernandez, represents clients facing charges for simple and aggravated forms of domestic violence, such as domestic violence by strangulation. Z. Hernandez Law represents clients in Orange, Lake, Osceola, and Seminole Counties. If you were arrested in any of these locations, contact us to learn how we may be able to help. 

Penalties for Domestic Violence in Florida

A domestic violence crime in Florida starts as a misdemeanor of the first degree. However, depending on the severity of the offense and prior convictions, defendants may face harsher charges. 

A conviction for domestic violence where the defendant intentionally harmed his or her family member, results in mandatory minimum imprisonment in a county jail:

  • 10 days for the first offense
  • 15 days for a second DV offense
  • 20 days for third and subsequent offenses

According to Florida Section 741.283, the minimum imprisonment will increase if the domestic violence act took place in the presence of a family member under 16 years of age: 

  • 15 days for first domestic violence offense
  • 20 days for a second offense
  • 30 days for third and subsequent offenses

It is important to note that the previous penalties are only minimum incarceration periods. As a result, domestic violence offenders in Florida can face more prolonged periods of imprisonment based on the severity of their crimes. 

Below are some examples of some domestic violence felonies along with their corresponding penalties:

Felony domestic violence charges

OffenseType of ChargeMaximum FineMaximum Imprisonment 
Domestic battery by strangulation3rd-degree felony$5,0005 years
Aggravated stalking3rd-degree felony$5,0005 years
False imprisonment3rd-degree felony$5,0005 years
False imprisonment of a child1st-degree felony$10,000Life in prison
Kidnapping1st-degree felony$10,000Life in prison

In addition to mandatory minimum incarceration, domestic violence penalties in Florida include:

  • At least one year of probation.
  • Complete a batterer’s intervention program.
  • Follow the conditions established in the injunction for protection.

Additionally, under Florida law, a DV conviction is not eligible for expunction. 

Injunction for protection against domestic violence

Domestic violence cases in Florida are closely related to injunctions for protection against domestic violence (restraining orders). This is because the law allows alleged victims of DV to seek protection against their perpetrators.

When a restraining order has been issued against you, you may lose some civil rights and access to your children or your house. Some conditions of injunction against domestic violence include, but are not limited to:

  • Surrender guns or ammunition.
  • Cede exclusive use and possession of the house to the other party. 
  • Avoid getting close to the petitioner’s home or place of work. 
  • Avoid committing any acts of domestic violence against the petitioner. 
  • Abide by the custody, visitation, and child support provisions stated in the injunction. 
  • Avoid contacting the petitioner. 

If you violate the conditions set on the restraining order, you may be charged with violation of an injunction, which is a misdemeanor of the first degree. You should contact a criminal lawyer near you if you have any questions about your restraining order. 

How to Get a Domestic Violence Dismissed in Florida?

Florida takes domestic violence cases very seriously. If you are unfamiliar with domestic violence laws and how the criminal justice system works, you may miss some potential legal avenues for your case. Thus, you may want to speak with an experienced defense lawyer. 

At Z. Hernandez Law, we understand that the circumstances of each case are unique, and, as a result, we are committed to finding the most appropriate defense for our clients. Below, you will find some strategies that Orlando domestic violence lawyers may use to dismiss domestic violence charges:

  • Negotiate with the prosecution
  • Prove that the allegations of domestic violence are false
  • Demonstrate that you acted in self-defense or defense of others
  • Demonstrate that there is not enough evidence to sustain the accusations

Keep in mind that the previous strategies may not be suitable for your case. Should you want to explore potential defenses for your specific situation, contact an Orlando domestic violence attorney from Z. Hernandez Law. 

Florida Domestic Violence Statistics

  • 106,515 domestic violence offenses were reported to law enforcement in 2020. Only 63,217 of those offenses resulted in arrests. 
  • 7,900 of domestic violence offenses occurred in Orange County. 
  • Out of the 106,515 DV offenses, 80% were simple assaults, and 15% corresponded to aggravated assaults. 
  • Florida estimates that 1 person dies approximately every 3 days due to domestic violence. 
  • According to a report by NCADV, over 29% of men and 37.9% of women in Florida experience some form of domestic violence. 
  • With 1,242.2 (per 100,000 population), Leon County had the highest domestic violence rate in 2020.  

Contact an Orlando Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer

A domestic violence charge in Florida is associated with severe and long-lasting consequences, such as a permanent criminal record. Getting legal representation is not an admittance of guilt but rather a constitutional right that allows you to protect your freedom, civil rights, and future. 

Z. Hernandez Law is a criminal defense law firm that serves clients facing charges for domestic violence in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Lake Counties. If you are seeking legal representation, call (407) 900-8490 or book online now to get in touch with our Orland domestic violence defense lawyer and explore your legal options. We speak and can serve our clients in both English and Spanish. 

Legal information reviewed by:
Zarina Hernandez | Founder & Attorney

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