Domestic violence involves a violent crime committed against a family member, spouse, or person you are dating. When police are called to the scene of an alleged domestic battery, they will usually arrest someone. Sometimes police arrest the wrong person.
A common scenario, particularly in domestic abuse cases, occurs when the victim does not want to press charges. The state can still move forward with the case whether or not the victim wants to testify. However, prosecutors will take how the victim feels into account and often dismiss the charges if the victim does not want to testify.
Assault & Battery
Assault and battery are often used interchangeably, but there is a distinction when it comes to legal terminology. Assault involves placing a victim in fear of bodily harm with threats, while battery involves actual contact and injuries.
Defending Against Violent Charges
We will carefully review the evidence in your case and develop the best defense under the circumstances based on all the facts. Just because you have been accused of a serious crime doesn’t, that doesn’t mean that you will be found guilty.
What Violent Crime Defenses Can Be Used?
The most common defenses to a violent crime charge include lack of evidence, non-cooperation of prosecution witnesses, the impeachment of witness credibility, and self-defense.
Self-defense is a very common defense. A person may use force to defend themselves, another person, or property. Deadly force may only be used when absolutely necessary, such as when the alleged victim has threatened you or another person with deadly force.
A common misconception about self-defense is that if a person hits you first, you may use whatever force necessary to defend yourself. Deadly force may only be used to prevent death or great bodily harm to yourself or another person or to prevent the commission of a serious felony.
In some states, you are required to retreat if you are able to safely do so without using force to defend yourself. Florida has enacted “stand your ground” laws which can bolster a claim of self-defense because you are not required to retreat once a person has threatened to use unlawful force against you. The “stand your ground” law in Florida requires that you are not engaged in criminal activity, did not instigate the altercation, and were in a location where you were lawfully entitled to be.
How Can I Avoid a Violent Conviction?
If the prosecution cannot prove all the elements of your case, you may be found not guilty. If you were falsely accused of a violent crime, the state may be unable to prove that the victim suffered injuries or that you were the person who inflicted injuries.
For example, if you were accused of domestic battery but your spouse only called police because he or she was angry at you (and there was no violence), the state may be unable to prove that you are guilty of abusing your spouse.
Violent Crime Penalties
Penalties for violent crimes include prison, fines, community service, and restitution. Restitution is paid to compensate victims for any losses, such as medical bills.
The punishment for a violent crime will depend on the severity of any injuries inflicted, whether or not a weapon was used, your criminal history, and the age or status of the victim.
Reclassification of Violent Crimes
If you are convicted of a violent crime against a firefighter, police officer, or emergency medical provider, you will face an enhanced sentence. You must “knowingly” commit a violent crime against one of these types of victims to be found guilty of an enhanced crime based on victim status. If you were in an altercation with an undercover officer, for example, you may be found not guilty of the more serious offense if the state cannot prove that you knew the victim was a police officer.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Violent Crimes
A misdemeanor charge is much less serious than a felony. Not only are the penalties more serious for a violent felony, but you will also lose important rights if convicted of a felony such as your right to own or possess a gun or to vote.
An aggravated violent charge involves conduct that is more serious because the crime was committed with a deadly weapon or during the commission of another felony. For example, simple robbery involves using unlawful force to take another person’s property, while use of a deadly weapon to make a threat to take property is robbery.
Collateral Consequences of Violent Convictions
Don’t ever plead guilty to a violent crime without speaking to an attorney. Doing so can seriously impact your future.
Here are some ways a violent crime conviction could affect you:
If you are convicted of a violent crime, your future employers will be able to see the conviction on a background check. If you were already convicted of a crime, speak to an attorney about how you may be able to get the conviction sealed or pardoned.
If you were not born in the United States, a violent crime conviction could affect your immigration status and lead to deportation. If you think that this could apply to you, let your defense attorney know about your concerns right away.
Child Custody and Divorce
If you are going through a divorce or custody case, a conviction of a violent crime will almost certainly play a role in a child custody determination, especially if any minor children were present during the commission of the crime. Unfortunately, sometimes parents accuse the other parent of abusing themselves or their children to gain an advantage in a custody battle.
Conviction of a violent crime can affect your right to carry or own a gun, even for home defense. If you are convicted of a felony, Florida law prohibits you from possessing a firearm. A violent misdemeanor can prevent you from obtaining a concealed carry permit or can result in the revocation of your permit if you already have one.
Your housing situation could be affected since many landlords run background checks as part of their screening process. A violent crime conviction could restrict you from qualifying for government housing assistance and other state benefits.
A Violent Crime Lawyer Can Help You
If you are accused of a violent crime, speak to an attorney with experience handling this type of case right away. Even if you are innocent, you need a skilled defense attorney to protect your rights. Our firm has handled many different types of violent offenses successfully. Don’t ever plead guilty without consulting a violent crime lawyer—we may find a way to beat the charges.
Call Hillsborough Defense at (813) 258-4800 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.