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What can I do if I am accused of domestic violence in Florida?

Domestic violence is a serious offense that carries significant legal and social consequences in Florida. If you are accused of domestic violence, it is important to understand your rights and the legal options available to you. Domestic violence accusations can result in criminal charges, restraining orders, and potential loss of custody of children, among other serious consequences. In this article, we will explore what you can do if you are accused of domestic violence in Florida, including your legal options, potential defenses, and resources available to help you navigate the legal system.

What is violence in the home?

Different types of domestic violence are usually thought of as an umbrella term for physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional abuse that involves physical aggression, intimidation, or coercion that hurts or kills a spouse, partner, child, family member, or other person living in the same home. This includes a wide range of crimes, such as assault, battery, stalking, false imprisonment, or criminal harassment.

Domestic violence; definitions.—As used in sections 741.28 through 741.31) of the Florida Statutes:

  • "Domestic violence" includes any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other crime that hurts or kills a family member or housemate and is committed by a family member or housemate.

  • "Family or household member" includes spouses, ex-spouses, people who are related by blood or marriage, people who live together as a family or who have lived together as a family in the past, and people who have a child together, whether or not they are married. With the exception of people who share a child, family, or household members who must live together or have lived together in the same single dwelling unit, either now or in the past.

What are the punishments for domestic violence?

Even though the penalties depend on the specific charge, the problem is that "any" violence between "household members" today is automatically charged as domestic violence. At least, that's what the Florida statutes say. When a charge is labeled "domestic violence," it brings up a number of additional laws about minimum punishments and how the police and the state attorney's office should handle the case.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony for Domestic Violence in Florida

Assaulting someone in the home is considered a misdemeanor, and a person can get up to 60 days in jail if they do it. Domestic battery is a first-degree misdemeanor that could get you a year in jail if you are found guilty.

There are also many felonies, such as aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated violence based on serious physical injury, aggravated battery on a pregnant woman, and others. Depending on how close the people are to each other, all of these accusations could be seen as domestic violence. It's important to note that, depending on the charge, each of these crimes has a maximum sentence. So, the most time you can spend in jail for a third-degree felony is five years, for a second-degree felony it's 15 years, and for a first-degree felony, it's 30 years.

Even though these are all the worst possible punishments, it's important to remember that very few people get the worst possible punishment for any crime. The sentence depends on all of the facts, such as how badly someone was hurt, if they have been in trouble with the law before, and so on. Depending on the case, penalties may be lessened with the help of a skilled domestic violence defense lawyer in Florida. In many cases, your sentence could include a lot more time in prison than the legal minimum. If this is the case, we may be able to convince the court to give you a longer sentence than the minimum.


In Florida, domestic violence battery is one of the most defendable charges in all of the criminal law, and a decision to plead should not be made without a lawyer thoroughly reviewing your case and considering all of your legal options. Some of the most common defenses include:

  • Factual disputes about the underlying incident;

  • Absence of injuries;

  • Battery allegations not corroborated by other evidence;

  • Vindictive victim;

  • Self-defense;

  • Defense of others;

  • Defense of Property;

  • Stand Your Ground;

  • Consensual confrontation or mutual combat.


There are a lot of ways to deal with a domestic battery charge, and many of them can help get the case dropped or lowered before trial. Here are some of the most common ways to defend yourself:


In a Domestic Violence Battery case, you can't say enough about how important it is to hire a lawyer. With a lawyer on the case, the chances of a charge being dropped, changed, or redirected are much higher.


One of the best things about hiring a private lawyer is that you can talk to the prosecution right away. When facts, legal issues, and mitigating circumstances are brought up early, they can have a big effect on the State's decision about whether or not to go forward with a domestic battery charge.


The best time to deal with domestic battery charges is at the beginning of the case before formal charges are filed. Even if there is a "no contact" order, an attorney can still get in touch with the alleged victim to see if he or she wants to press the charge. The lawyer can also talk about what steps can be taken to ask that the charges be dropped.


In many situations, it makes sense for the defendant or victim to take the initiative and sign up for counseling or other services for mental health or drug abuse. Participation in these programs on the part of the parties can show a level of responsibility, change how the prosecutor sees the case and the defendant, and make it more likely that a non-criminal solution, like Pretrial Intervention, will be found.


When a domestic violence charge can't be dropped or lessened in the early stages of a case, pre-trial motions can help push for a charge to be dropped or lessened. Motions to "Stand Your Ground," "Motions in Limine," and "Motions for Court Ruling" are a few examples.


Trials happen a lot when someone is charged with battery or domestic violence. Because of this, both the defendant and the lawyer must show that they are ready to go to trial throughout the case. In some situations, being ready, willing, and able to go to trial can be a big part of getting a charge dropped, reduced, or changed.


Here at the Arroyo Law Firm, we offer complete defense services and inexpensive payment plans to help offenders defend their rights. For a free case evaluation, reach out to us online or by phone at 407-770-9000. Knowing your alternatives won't cost you anything, even if you decide not to hire us.

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