Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

How Is Domestic Violence Defined In Florida?


Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

Florida has an entire section of statutes relating to criminal offenses and many of these criminal offenses predate statutory law and go back into English common law. Many people are surprised that areas such as assault and battery are covered by common law and it’s still good law in the state of Florida today. However, when it comes to domestic violence related charges, you will find that these statutes are in a completely different area of law titled domestic relations. For example the definition of domestic violence is not defined in the normal section for criminal statutes in Florida. Instead it is found in Chapter 741. The definition of domestic violence is located specifically in Florida statute section 741.28 which defines domestic violence as any assault, aggravated assault which is a felony version of misdemeanor assault, battery or aggravated battery which is one of many types of felony battery charges.

Sexual assault is also covered by domestic violence along with sexual battery as are the crimes stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment and then it gets very broad and says any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one’s family or household member by any other family or household member. So when you look at the definition of domestic violence it takes existing criminal statutes and adds another layer of criminality under the umbrella of domestic violence. Now when we are talking about a family or a household member, this can be a spouse it can be a former spouse, it can be people who are related by blood or it can be people who are related by marriage, it can be people who are presently residing together as family without marriage and it can include people who have resided together in the past as if they were a family.

Persons who are parents of a child in common, whether or not they have been married are also included as family or household members under the statute. With the exception of people who have had a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have resided together in the past in the same dwelling unit. Now one thing to note when it comes to the definition of domestic violence is that a case that arises out of say, Destin or Fort Walton Beach, somewhere in Okaloosa County that is covered by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s office, for example is going to have an additional type of evidence that may play into these definitions when it comes to the prosecution and the defense of domestic violence charges because Okaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies are required to carry body cameras. These body cameras can be mounted on glasses, they can be mounted on someone’s shoulder, they have a way to mount them on other parts of their uniform or body.

So Okaloosa County cases are going to have body camera evidence that may agree with police reports or in some cases, disagree with police reports and thus you will have scenarios where an officer may be asking someone a question, “Do the two of you have a child in common? Are you related? Do you live together?” Things involving these very definitions of domestic violence and you may find something in the reports that indicate one thing and then when you look at the body camera evidence, it’s completely contradicted. Basically domestic violence has two components, an underlying criminal charge and then you have the issue of whether or not you are talking about people who have children in common, a marital relationship or people who basically live together as if they are a family.

Other sections of this same statute, Section 741 go on to say that domestic violence cases are given special priority and when the police arrive to what appears to be a domestic complaint or a domestic disturbance they are to determine that “primary aggressor” and then that person is arrested and taken to jail. Domestic violence cases also have specific requirements as it relates to bail bonds. Just about everybody who is arrested on a domestic charge will have a no-contact provision unless certain things are done to enable them to be released on bond with a different type of contact provision known as no-violent contact. No violent contact means the parties can talk, they can communicate however they wish as long as it is non-violent. They can resume living together.

Yet if it is not handled correctly very early on, there is usually a very broad no contact provision in domestic violence battery cases for example, compared to a non-domestic violence battery where there may not be a no-contact provision. So these are some of the things that we have to factor in when we are defining domestic violence.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

For more information on Domestic Violence Cases In Florida, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 466-1522 today.

Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

Get your questions answered - call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (850) 466-1522

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