If you or someone close to you is facing a domestic violence charge, knowing how to respond is essential. All criminal convictions can cause issues for you down the road, but some charges seem to elicit stronger reactions than others. It is absolutely critical to understand that in the state of Florida, a conviction for domestic violence will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life. No exceptions. No loopholes. The only way to avoid having a domestic violence conviction on your criminal record is to not be convicted in the first place. That is best accomplished with help of a skilled criminal defense attorney.
What counts as domestic violence in Florida?
Florida law outlines domestic violence as any criminal act that brings physical injury or death to the family or household member of the perpetrator. Some examples of crimes that fall under the umbrella of domestic violence include:
- False imprisonment
Domestic violence offenses can be categorized at either the felony or misdemeanor level. If the crime also involves strangulation, serious bodily harm, stalking in defiance of an injunction, or a pregnant victim, the matter becomes even more serious.
Is it better to enter a guilty plea than to go to trial?
In some cases, it makes sense to enter a guilty plea, but it’s important to weigh all options carefully before doing so. Many people fail to understand that entering a plea of guilty will result in the same conviction on your record as if you were found guilty in a court of law.
For domestic violence cases, a guilty plea will still result in a conviction, and that conviction will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life.
What if the accuser does not wish to pursue the charges?
In many cases, the alleged victim decides that he or she does not want to pursue criminal charges. They can then sign a Waiver of Prosecution. That said, a prosecutor can still move forward with charges, even if the accuser does not want the matter to go to court.
In such cases, a skilled attorney can present more details about the case directly to the prosecutor. With the right background information, a compelling argument can be made that moving forward with criminal charges would be detrimental to all parties. This can lead to dropped charges and no domestic violence conviction.
What is the best way to proceed after being charged with domestic violence?
The most important thing you can do after being charged with domestic violence is to secure the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. Your attorney will begin by gathering information from you about the circumstances that led to the charges.
Your defense attorney can also contact the prosecutor directly to discuss any mitigating circumstances, legal issues, or factual defenses that apply to the case. This interaction, in addition to the fact that you’ve hired an attorney to work on your behalf, is sometimes enough to convince the prosecutor to drop the case.
If a “No Contact” order was filed and the alleged victim does not want to continue to restrict communications, your attorney can work to have that order modified or lifted. This sends yet another signal to the prosecutor that the alleged victim does not want to move forward with the matter.
In the event the matter goes to trial, your defense attorney will prepare for that event. Any applicable pre-trial motions will be filed, and the attorney works with you to make sure you are ready to go before the court.
If you have questions or concerns about the ramifications of a domestic violence conviction, reach out to an experienced attorney today.