New Florida Laws on Domestic Violence
A new Florida law is being heralded for the added protection it provides victims of domestic violence. However, it is equally as important for a person accused of domestic violence to know the terms of the new legislation and understand what a possible violation looks like. Without this knowledge, a defendant may take seemingly harmless actions that result in additional charges and the possibility of jail time. The ramifications of a domestic violence conviction can prove serious, resulting in a loss of family, finances, employment and freedom. Therefore, it is critical that you secure the services of a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as you learn about the charges.
What the Law Says
As reported by a local FOX affiliate, the legislation clarifies the no-contact specification of a protective order and increases the potential punishment. Specifically, it does the following:
- Places the enforceability of no-contact orders under the umbrella of pretrial release;
- Makes no-contact orders immediately effective and keeps them in effect until changed by judge’s orders;
- Makes violation of a no-contact order a misdemeanor, with a possible punishment of up to a year imprisonment;
- Establishes that consent of the victim is not required for the filing of charges; and
- Clarifies no-contact to include:
- Oral and written communication;
- Physical contact at the alleged victim’s home, even if shared with the defendant;
- Being within 500 feet of the alleged victim’s home, even if shared with the defendant; and
- Being within 500 feet of the alleged victim’s place of employment, vehicle or frequently visited locations.
Alice Blackwell is a judge with the ninth judicial circuit. She is quoted in the article as stating, “Before the perpetrator is released from the jail, he or she can begin to make lots of phone calls to the victim… and to anyone else to try and harass the victim survivor into dropping the charges.” Under the new law, this type of activity will be classified as a new and separate offense.
What This Means for the Accused
If you are accused of committing domestic violence, this law essentially governs your behavior while on pretrial release. There is no more confusion about what no-contact means, so any phone calls, home visits or work visits can potentially lead to additional charges. The other important aspect of this law is that charges can be filed without the cooperation of the alleged victim. Domestic violence defendants often believe, and sometimes count on the fact that their partners refuse to cooperate with the state to pursue a conviction. You may feel tempted to take advantage of this fact and contact the alleged victim, believing that things have calmed down. Often, the alleged victim even contacts the defendant first to pursue reconciliation. Under this new law, officers can pursue charges without the assistance of the alleged victim. Therefore, even if these actions seem harmless at the time, they may lead to additional charges.
If you or a loved one is facing domestic violence charges, the criminal lawyers in Miami Mycki Ratzan and Jude Faccidomo can provide you with an aggressive and comprehensive defense. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation.