What Higher Domestic Violence Prosecutions Mean to the Accused
The holidays include a lot of wonderful events and feelings. However, they also come with some negativity, including a significant increase in domestic violence cases.
As reported in the Orlando Sentinel, Florida prosecutors are trying more misdemeanor domestic violence cases than ever before. For example, prosecutors in Orange-Osceola County handled almost 300 more of these cases in 2014 than they did in 2013. Similarly, Seminole County prosecutors handled more than 22 percent more cases between 2012 and 2014.
From one perspective, these numbers are good news. They mean that law enforcement agents and state’s lawyers are taking more active role in prosecuting these cases. Carol Wick is CEO of the domestic-violence shelter Harbor House. She is quoted in the article as stating, “Law enforcement is investigating these cases better. Survivors have more support and [police are] collecting evidence on the 911 calls as well as photos.”
In consideration of these numbers, some Florida counties are asking the legislature for money to fund additional prosecutors and legal assistants. They assert that more people are needed to deal with rising caseloads, and to continue efforts at community awareness and prosecution.
A Different Perspective
While these numbers represent a positive from one perspective, there is also another perspective that is relevant to accused parties. Domestic violence cases are often situations involving one person’s word against the other person’s word. There are often no witnesses to corroborate one side or the other. Unfortunately, this creates a situation wherein individuals can make false accusations against the other party for vindictive and improper reasons.
The consequences of these allegations are significant and they can start even before a court case occurs. In Florida, there are numerous judicial actions that an alleged victim can take in addition to filing a criminal complaint.
A Petition for an Injunction against Domestic Violence can be filed against any family member based on accusations of domestic violence. Under Florida law, the following persons are included in the definition of family:
- Spouses and ex-spouses;
- Parents and grandparents;
- Aunts and uncles;
- Parties intimately involved and living together but never married;
- Adopted children;
- Stepparents and stepchildren; and
- A person who is the parent of your child(ren), regardless of whether or not you have ever been married or lived together.
There is no official hearing required for the injunction and the initial granting is often done ex parte, meaning that only the accused is present in front of the presiding judicial officer. Once issued, the injunction does the following:
- Restrains the respondent from committing any further acts of domestic violence;
- Awards the victim with exclusive use of the shared home;
- May grant temporary time sharing and support in regards to children;
- May require the respondent to participate in domestic violence prevention courses; and
- Requires the alleged offender to surrender weapons.
In addition to these consequences, a domestic violence allegation can also lead to a loss of employment and rejection by family and friends. For this reason, it is vitally important to secure the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will aggressively defend your case.
If you are facing domestic violence charges in a Florida court, contact Miami lawyers Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC at (305) 330-3905 for a free and confidential consultation.