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Domestic Violence

Domestic violence defense attorney Tallahassee, Florida

When emotions run high, an argument can escalate out of control. In the worst of scenarios, an individual may commit an act of violence against their significant other or family member. The state of Florida considers domestic violence as any violent or abusive behavior occurring between family or household members. There are a variety of criminal charges that fall under the “domestic violence” category, all with harsh consequences that can severely impact your future.

However, getting all the facts after heated incident between family is imperative.  One person may have been intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance. The allegation might even be used to gain an advantage in divorce or child custody proceedings. Whatever the situation, you should not wait to contact a Florida defense attorney if you’ve been accused of a domestic violence crime.

It is not uncommon for domestic violence allegations to be exaggerated or false. A qualified domestic violence defense attorney can help you understand the charges against you, protect your rights during legal proceedings, and help provide potential defense strategies to fight the charges against you.

Domestic Violence Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, FL

Domestic violence charges should be taken seriously. The attorneys at Pumphrey Law understand the severity of a domestic situation and will work to help you fight the charges against you. Your freedom and reputation are at stake, but you do not have to face the charges alone.

Pumphrey Law Firm represents clients throughout Tallahassee and the surrounding areas of North Florida including Monticello in Jefferson County, Crawfordville in Wakulla County, Quincy in Gadsden County and Bristol in Liberty County. Contact our office today at (850) 681-7777 or leave us a message online for a free consultation about your domestic violence case.

Domestic Violence Information Center

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What is Domestic Violence?

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, domestic violence is considered a pattern of abusive or violent behavior in a relationship. Actions that are considered domestic violence often occur when one partner or family member attempts to gain or maintain control and power over the victim. Examples of abusive behavior that could result in a domestic violence charge include:

  • Physical abuse – Actions like hitting, slapping, biting, hair pulling, and shoving are examples of physical abuse. If a romantic partner or family member causes physical abuse to a victim, they could be arrested for allegations of domestic abuse.
  • Sexual abuse – Attempting to coerce any unwanted, non-consented sexual contact or behavior on a romantic partner or family member could result in a domestic violence charge. Marital rape, attacking the sexual parts of another person’s body, or forcing sex after physical violence are all actions that are considered sexual abuse.
  • Emotional abuse – Disempowering another person’s self-esteem is considered abusive behavior. Actions such as name-calling, non-stop criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, and damaging a person’s relationship with their family are examples of emotional abuse.
  • Psychological abuse – Attempting to cause psychological abuse to a romantic partner or family member can result in emotional trauma, anxiety, chronic depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Causing fear by intimidation, threatening physical harm to oneself, partner, children, or other family members, the destruction of pets or property, and forced isolation are all examples of psychological abuse.
  • Technological abuse – Technological abuse is considered an act or pattern of abuse that is intended to harm, threaten, control, stalk, harass, exploit, or monitor another person. This form of abuse can be done by internet enabled devices, online platforms, cell phones, cameras, apps, location tracking devices, and other forms of emerging technology.

In the state of Florida, domestic violence is defined under Florida Statute Section 741.28 as any 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 to a family or household member by another family or household member.

Florida law defines a family or household member as any of the following:

  • Current or former spouse;
  • Persons related by blood or by marriage;
  • Persons who presently reside together as a family;
  • Persons who previously resided together as a family; or
  • Persons who have a child in common.

The defendant and alleged victim must currently or previously have resided together in the same single dwelling unit to be considered a family or household member. However, parents who have a child in common do not have to live in the same home or have been married at any point.

Given that domestic violence encompasses a wide variety of criminal offenses, these charges can often be complex. The following provides some insight into the unfamiliar terms and definitions that may arise in a domestic violence situation in Tallahassee:

  • Harassment – Defined under Florida Statute Section 784.048, meaning to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes them substantial emotional distress and without serving any legitimate purpose.
  • Dating violence – Defined under Florida Statute Section 784.046, meaning violence between individuals who have or previously had a romantic or intimate relationship. The relationship must be determined on the following:
    • An existing romantic, dating relationship within the last 6 months;
    • The relationship was characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the two parties; and
    • The type of interaction and frequency of such interaction must have included the person who had been involved over time and on a continuous basis during the relationship.
  • Domestic violence injunction – Defined by the Florida Courts, and also referred to as a restraining order, meaning a court order that prevents a person from contacting or going within a certain physical distance of a domestic violence victim. An individual who violates an injunction can be arrested and face criminal charges.

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Common Domestic Violence Charges in Florida

Given that Florida views domestic violence as any act resulting in physical injury or death to a family or household member, there are multiple offenses a person accused of domestic violence can be charged with. Some of the most common domestic violence charges in Florida include:

  • Assault
    Assault is defined as an intentional act of violence, or a threat to cause violence to another person, with the apparent ability to do so that it causes the victim to fear the act of violence is imminent. This offense is punishable as a second-degree misdemeanor.
  • Aggravated Assault
    Aggravated assault is a more severe version of assault that either involves a deadly weapon or the intent to commit a felony. This offense is punishable as a third-degree felony.
  • Battery
    Battery is defined as the actual and intentional touching of another person against their will or causing intentional harm to another person. A first-time battery offense is punishable as a first-degree misdemeanor.
  • Felony battery
    Felony battery is the actual and intentional touching of another person against their will that causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent This offense is punishable as a third-degree felony.
  • Domestic battery by strangulation
    Domestic battery by strangulation is an offense specific to domestic violence cases. It is defined as knowingly and intentionally impeding the normal breathing or circulation of a family or household member or a person in a dating relationship, against that person’s will, and by doing so creates a risk of great bodily harm. This offense is punishable as a third-degree felony.
  • Aggravated battery
    Aggravated battery is a more severe version of battery that either involves the use of a deadly weapon that intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement to another, or a battery offense upon a pregnant woman whom the offender knew or should have known was pregnant. This offense is punishable as a second-degree felony.
  • Stalking
    Stalking is defined as the willful, malicious, and repeated following, harassing, or cyberstalking of another person against their This offense is punishable as a first-degree misdemeanor.
  • Aggravated Stalking
    Aggravated stalking is a more severe version of stalking that either involves making a credible threat, harassing, or cyberstalking a child under 16, or committing a stalking offense after being served an injunction for protection. This offense is punishable as a third-degree felony.
  • Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is a form of stalking, defined as the engagement of conduct to communicate directly or indirectly, words, images, or language by use of electronic mail or communication directed at a specific person, or to access the online accounts or electronic system of another person without their consent. This offense is punishable as a first-degree misdemeanor.

Domestic Violence Statistics in Leon County

Each year the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) releases data on crime in the state reported by each law enforcement agency. The following provides data relating to domestic violence offenses in Leon County from January – December 2019:

  • Manslaughter – 3 offenses
  • Rape – 45 offenses
  • Fondling – 34 offenses
  • Aggravated Assault – 329 offenses
  • Aggravated Stalking – 3 offenses
  • Simple Assault – 1,676 offenses
  • Threat/Intimidation – 28 offenses
  • Simple Stalking – 5 offenses
  • Total offenses – 2,125

Additionally, the following FDLE statistics highlight the rate of domestic violence offenses across Florida from January – December 2021:

  • Murder – 192 offenses
  • Manslaughter – 28 offenses
  • Rape – 1,877 offenses
  • Fondling – 958 offenses
  • Aggravated Assault – 16,183 offenses
  • Aggravated Stalking – 141 offenses
  • Simple Assault – 82,735 offenses
  • Threat/Intimidation – 1,405 offenses
  • Simple Stalking – 396 offenses
  • Total offenses – 103,915

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Domestic Violence Protective Orders

Victims of domestic violence may ask the court for protection. One of the ways victims can seek additional help is through a protective order. Also referred to as a “restraining order,” a protective order is a legal injunction, or an official document that has been issued by the court to protect a victim from future violence. The state of Florida has four distinct types of protective orders: For domestic violence, repeat violence, dating violence, or sexual violence.

Florida Statute Section 741.30 provides that any person who is the victim of domestic violence or has reason to believe they are in imminent danger of becoming the victim of domestic violence, has standing in the circuit court to file a sworn petition for an injunction of protection against domestic violence.

With a domestic violence injunction, the alleged abuser will likely be

 required to avoid all contact with the petitioner, stay within a certain distance from the petitioner’s property, and refrain from destroying the petitioner’s private property.

After a domestic violence injunction is filed, the court will schedule a hearing as soon as possible. If a judge decides there is an immediate danger of domestic violence, he or she will issue an order directed at the alleged abuser. The alleged abuser does not need to be at the hearing for this to happen.

Important: An individual who violates the terms of the protective order can be charged with a violation of domestic violence injunction

Florida Statute Section 741.31 states that a violation of an injunction for protection against domestic violence can result in a first-degree misdemeanor. An injunction violation can occur by:

  1. Not leaving the shared dwelling the parties share;
  2. Going or staying within 500 feet of the victim’s residence, school, work, or specified place regularly frequented by the petitioner;
  3. Committing an act of domestic violence against the petitioner;
  4. Committing any other violence of the injunction through an intentional unlawful threat, word, or act to do violence to the petitioner;
  5. Calling, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the petitioner directly or indirectly;
  6. Knowingly and intentionally coming within 100 feet of the petitioner’s motor vehicle; or
  7. Refusing to surrender any firearms or ammunition ordered by the court.

Pumphrey Law can work with families who have to go through protective order hearings. These hearings are used primarily to investigate the facts of the domestic violence case to see if the protective order itself is warranted and necessary.

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Penalties for Domestic Violence Crimes

The penalties for domestic violence offenses vary on multiple factors. The severity of the offense and the defendant’s criminal history can both help determine the specific penalties for a domestic violence offense. Penalties can include fines, probation, imprisonment, mandatory counselling, anger management programs, and community service. In addition, getting convicted of a domestic violence offense can cause social repercussions such as losing your job or custody of your children. Those convicted of domestic violence offenses may also be prohibited from possessing a firearm under state and federal law.

The following lists Florida’s set penalties for each degree of offense:

  • Second-degree misdemeanor – Up to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail
  • First-degree misdemeanor – Up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail
  • Third-degree felony – Up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison
  • Second-degree felony – Up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison
  • First-degree felony – Up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison

Important: Domestic violence offenses can result in a minimum term of imprisonment. Under Florida Statute Section 741.283(1)(a), a person who is adjudicated guilty of a crime of domestic violence crime shall be ordered the following sentence by a judge:

  • First-offense: Minimum of 10 days in the county jail
  • Second-offense: Minimum of 15 days in the county jail
  • Third or subsequent offense: Minimum of 20 days in the county jail

If the person is adjudicated guilty of a crime of domestic violence crime in the presence of a child under 16 years-old, shall be ordered the following sentence by a judge:

  • First-offense: Minimum of 15 days in the county jail
  • Second-offense: Minimum of 20 days in the county jail
  • Third or subsequent offense: Minimum of 30 days in the county jail

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Florida Resources for Domestic Violence Victims

The Leon County Sheriff’s Office Victim Advocate Unit
Find vital information for victims of domestic violence in Leon County, Florida. The Leon County Sheriff’s Office established the Victim Advocate Unit in 1995 to provide services and assistance to victims of domestic violence.

Refuge House, Inc.
An emergency shelter that provides services to the victims of domestic violence and their children throughout Leon County and the surrounding areas. The website also provides educational information on domestic violence including stories, outreach programs, children’s programs, rape crisis programs, courthouse programs, safety tips, news and more. The mailing address and 24-hour crisis phone line are:

The Refuge House, Inc.
P.O. Box 20910
Tallahassee, Florida 32316
Phone: (850) 681-2111

Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence
FCADV desires to create a violence-free world and provides leadership, education, training, technical assistance, advocacy, and support to domestic violence center programs.

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Contact a Tallahassee Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

If you were convicted of a domestic violence charge in the Florida Panhandle, contact an experienced Tallahassee criminal attorney as soon as possible. The laws around domestic violence can be complicated and nuanced. You want an experienced and knowledgeable legal professional on your side who can guide you through the legal proceedings and help you understand the charges against you. There is too much at stake with a domestic violence conviction to not act seriously and immediately.

The attorneys at Pumphrey Law Firm can help you strategize possible defenses to your charge and fight to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Contact our office today at (850) 681-7777 for a free case evaluation.

Page Updated January 15, 2024

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