A criminal act can fall under domestic violence if any person, according to Florida Statute Section 741.28(3), causes another person to fear for their safety, causing physical or psychological pain, injury, or illness.
There are three categories for crimes based on the severity, infractions, misdemeanor, and felony. The latter of which is the most serious.
The answer to the question “Is domestic violence a felony in Florida” depends on how serious the crime is. Learn more about domestic violence charges below.
Who can be subject to domestic violence laws in Florida?
Many people assume that domestic violence refers only to married couples. However, the Florida Statutes broadly define who could be subject to this type of crime, below:
- Spouse and former spouses. It refers to any two people who are either married or divorced. If the crime is committed by John and Mary, who are either married or divorced, they can face domestic violence charges.
- People who live together or who have previously lived together. If John and Mary are currently living together or lived together in the past, either are susceptible to domestic violence charges.
- Parents of a child. It refers to people who have a child in common, whether they have married or lived together. If John and Mary have a child, either can be subject to domestic violence charges.
- Family members. It refers to people related by blood and living in the same dwelling unit or have lived together as part of a family. The blood relationship could be siblings, grandparents, and grandchild, or parent and child.
- In-laws and step-relatives. Domestic violence law also applies to those related by marriage, provided they currently have lived in the same dwelling in the past. They can be step-children, step-siblings, or step-parents.
If someone accuses you of domestic violence, seeking legal help as soon as possible is among your best options. Note that a conviction can not only hold you behind bars, but can also prevent you from obtaining and keeping a license, getting or keeping a job, or preventing from owning a gun.
Actions Deemed as Domestic Violence Under Florida Law
State of Florida law enumerates the ten crimes that fall under the umbrella of domestic violence. What differentiates domestic violence from regular crimes is the relationship between the two parties involved.
Domestic violence requires two people to be either family or household members. To answer the question “is domestic violence a felony,” read the Florida law as outlined below:
Assault is the act of intentionally threatening harm to another person with violence and the alleged victim believes that he or she is about to suffer physical harm.
For example, if John threatens to punch Mary, then draws back his fist, Mary has a reason to believe that John will punch her. Even if Mary was able to escape, John could still face assault charges. John can be convicted with a second-degree misdemeanor and can face a maximum sentence of 60 days and up to a $500 fine.
Aggravated assault is an assault with a deadly weapon and intends to commit a felony without intending to kill the other person. If Mary threatens to hit John with a baseball bat, she can face aggravated assault charges. She does not need actually to hit John to be charged. Aggravated assault is a third-degree felony with a maximum of 5 years and up to a $5,000 fine.
A battery charge is different from assault, as it requires the person to touch or cause bodily harm to the other person. It is also known as “completed assault.” If John punches Mary, he can be charged with battery. If Mary shoves John but does not actually injure him, she can still be charged with battery.
A first criminal offense battery will likely be convicted with a first-degree misdemeanor and can carry a jail sentence of one year and a fine of up to $1,000. If the person has a prior conviction, he or she will be convicted with a third-degree felony charged with 5 year jail time and up to a $5,000 fine.
Domestic battery by strangulation
This crime is knowingly and intentionally impeding the other person's normal breathing or blood circulation by applying pressure on the throat or neck, or blocking the nose or mouth.
The perpetrator can get a conviction of a third-degree felony and could face up to 5 years in a prison sentence and up to a $5,000 fine.
If Mary hits John with a baseball bat and injures him, she can face aggravated battery charges. Aggravated battery uses deadly weapons against another person, causing bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement. A person is convicted of a second-degree felony with 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The law defines this as sexual penetration that involves genitals or an object to another person without consent. Violators can face a first-degree felony, spend up to 30 years in prison, and have to up to $10,000 in fines.
If the perpetrator uses weapons that resulted in a serious injury during the illegal activity, he or she can be convicted with a life felony and a maximum fine of $15,000.
Under Florida law, stalking can occur in “real life” or online. For example, if Mary and John break up, but John still follows Mary wherever she goes to the point of harassment, police can arrest for stalking. If he constantly emails, texts, or tags Mary in social media posts, he can also get stalking charges. He can be convicted for first-degree misdemeanor charges and can face up to one year in prison with up to a $1,000 fine.
Aggravated stalking is threatening someone while stalking online or in real life. If John stalks Mary and threatens to kill her, or if he continues to stalk after she obtains a restraining order, he can be convicted for a third-degree felony with five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
If John locks Mary in the bedroom to prevent her from leaving the house or making contact with her family, he can be charged with false imprisonment. He can be convicted of a third-degree felony with 5 years imprisonment and up to a $5,000 fine.
It is holding someone as a captive to commit a felony, inflict harm, or terrorize them. If John detains Mary and continually threatens her, he can be charged with kidnapping. He can be convicted of a first-degree felony with 30 years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine.
On top of the outlined sentences and fines above, Florida domestic violence law mandates anyone guilty of domestic violence to complete a batterer’s intervention program.
How a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Can Help
The first thing you should do if you face domestic violence charges is hire a defense attorney for domestic violence in South Florida. A criminal defense attorney may employ several methods to defend and protect your rights.
An attorney may be able to help you avoid conviction, get criminal charges dropped or reduced, and provide legal counsel as the case unfolds.
Given the complexity of the nature of personal injury cases, hiring an attorney who specializes in this field can benefit the accused. Speak to a member of Weinstein Legal today for a free case consultation. Call 888-626-1108.