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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a month devoted to raising awareness about the existence and pervasiveness of domestic abuse and domestic violence in Okaloosa County and throughout the country. Domestic violence, as well its signs and the methods by which it is or should be punished, are often misunderstood. These misconceptions and misunderstandings are especially prevalent amongst those who find themselves charged with a domestic violence offense in Florida for the first time.
In light of the above, some of the most common misconceptions about Fort Walton Beach, Florida domestic violence cases include:
Myth: I can be charged in Florida with the crime of domestic violence.
Fact: In Florida there is no such crime as “domestic violence;” instead, there are a number of separate and distinct criminal offenses that can be committed against a “family or household member” and thereby be considered a “domestic violence offense.” Acts of “domestic violence” include assaults, batteries, stalking, kidnapping, and any other criminal act that results in physical harm to a family or household member. An offense that is designated as a “domestic violence” offense carries with it special sentencing provisions if the defendant is convicted of the offense.
Myth: I cannot be charged with a domestic violence offense if I never lived with the alleged victim.
Fact: Most people assume that a “domestic violence offense” is one perpetrated on a significant other with whom the alleged abuser lives. In reality, the statutory definition of “family or household member” is expansive and includes not just individuals with whom the alleged abuser lives but also blood relatives, people related to the abuser by marriage, people with whom the abuser has resided in the past as family members, and the other parent of a child of the abuser.
Myth: Domestic violence offense penalties are nothing serious.
Fact: A single conviction for a domestic violence offense can result in a minimum jail sentence of five days in cases where there is bodily harm inflicted on the victim. In addition, a domestic violence offense conviction can result in the defendant being required to attend a batterers’ intervention course that lasts nearly 30 weeks. Depending on the underlying crime (i.e., battery, kidnapping, etc.), the minimum jail or prison sentence can be greater than five days.
Myth: I Cannot Be Convicted of a Domestic Violence Offense if the Victim Does Not Testify.
Fact: If the victim does not appear to testify at trial, or if the victim indicates he or she does not wish to pursue charges, the prosecutor can take this into consideration but does not necessarily need to dismiss the charges against you. The prosecutor will review the evidence of the case, including statements you made and evidence collected by the police, before determining how to dispose of your case.
Myth: I Can Handle My Domestic Violence Offense Case On My Own.
Fact: Domestic violence offenses can involve complex facts and legal issues. It is easy for defendants who represent themselves to unknowingly waive or give up certain rights if they are unfamiliar with court procedures or do not know how to investigate these cases and defend themselves against these charges.
How a Fort Walden Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
If you find yourself charged with a domestic violence offense in Okaloosa County or anywhere else in Florida, contact Florida Criminal Trial Law Specialist Stephen G. Cobb for assistance. He will conduct a thorough investigation into the facts of your case and will use the results of this investigation to protect your rights, your freedom, and your reputation. Contact his office today at (850) 466-1522.
The Cobb Law Firm
5 Clifford Dr.
Shalimar, FL 32579
Phone: (850) 466-1522