Defending a Wrongful Domestic Violence Accusation
The national media is focusing on a Florida judge who recently jailed a woman for failing to appear at a criminal trial against her husband. According to reports by ABC News, the husband’s charges stem from a domestic violence accusation that he choked his wife and threatened her with a kitchen knife as she held her child. As a result he was formally charged and prosecutors prepared for a jury trial. On the date of the scheduled trial, the wife reportedly failed to appear. Without the testimony of their main witness, the state was forced to lessen the charges. The husband reportedly pleaded down to simple assault and spent about two weeks in jail.
The prosecutor in the case reportedly charged the woman with contempt of court and she did appear for a hearing. According to ABC News, during the contempt appearance, the sobbing wife told the judge that her anxiety and stress levels caused her to miss court. Several media outlets are reporting that the judge showed little sympathy, finding the wife guilty and sentencing her to three days in jail.
While it is undeniable that the issue of domestic violence is a major problem in this country, this situation does raise questions about another perspective on these cases. In increasing numbers, parties are accusing individuals of domestic violence out of anger or revenge, with the goal of harassment. The potential consequences for the accused include loss of employment, deportation, family difficulties and even incarceration.
Under Florida law, domestic violence is defined as “assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.” Family or household member encompasses a variety of relationships, including:
- Former spouses;
- Persons related by blood or marriage;
- Individuals who presently or previously resided in the same home as a family; and
- Individuals with a child in common.
The state can bring a domestic violence charge as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the level of injury involved.
- A misdemeanor conviction can result in a brief jail sentence, community service and mandatory anger management courses.
- A felony conviction can result in increased jail time and stronger penalties.
Defending the Charges
When faced with the potential consequences of a domestic violence conviction, it is vitally important that you secure the services of a capable lawyer. In cases where there is no physical evidence, your lawyer can use the absence of evidence to create reasonable doubt. If your accuser is testifying in court, his or her credibility may also be brought into question to demonstrate the presence of malice or revenge. It is also important to note that the state can go forward with the case, even if your accuser decides to not testify. Generally, your lawyer will have to use different defense strategies to attack the credibility of other witnesses.
If you are facing domestic violence charges, contact Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC to explore your options. Call today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation in Miami.