Does There Have To Be Substantial Injury In Order For Domestic Violence Charges To Be Made?
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.
Not at all. There is no injury requirement, in part because of the very nature of the definition of misdemeanor assault and the definition of misdemeanor or simple battery. Here is what they are, with a simple battery or a misdemeanor battery, the elements of the charge are that there is
- An intentional touching that is
- Harmful or offensive
A classic example of this is a man or woman who says to their partner, I’m angry at you. I want nothing to do with you right now. Don’t even touch my hair, don’t even touch my clothing. In this example, imagine the other party not taking it very seriously and saying “There. I touched the hair on your arms. What are you going to do about it?” That person can pick up the phone, call the police and have the other party arrested because there was intentional touching and although there was no injury or harm it was offensive. When you are talking about crimes such as a sexual offense, a sexual assault or a sexual battery, the injury is pretty much presumed by virtue of the fact that there is non-consensual sexual contact in the case of a battery and with assault generally there is no injury because by its very nature assault presumes as a criminal offense that a touching has not occurred but someone believes that touching is imminent.
Therefore, someone who is complaining that they are the victim of some type of domestic violence does not need to prove an injury for most charges. Now if we are talking about an aggravated battery with great bodily harm then that is another story because in that specific offense which is a specific intent crime as opposed to a general intent crime, then there has to be an injury and it has to be a serious injury. For example, a broken bone would qualify, a cut that leaves a scar would qualify as a serious bodily injury. However a cut that does not leave a scar and is not considered great bodily harm would not be considered sufficient to justify a charge of aggravated battery. Generally speaking, the answer is no, an injury does not have to be shown but in certain cases, with the more serious types of domestic violence, you have to show injury. In the case, for example, of a homicide with domestic overtones then of course, you are going to have some pretty serious injury because it caused death. So the answer is yes and no. No for most types of domestic violence that we run across but for the more serious cases with specific charges like aggravated battery with great bodily harm, there has to be an injury.
What Are The Penalties Associated With A Domestic Violence Conviction In Florida?
There are two sets of consequences when it comes to domestic violence charges. One is considered a direct consequence. A direct consequence is when someone is sent to jail or prison. That would be an example of a direct consequence. If someone pleads or is found guilty of a domestic violence charge and they are sentenced to probation without a conviction, they nevertheless have collateral consequences that are quite significant. They cannot own or possess a firearm, they cannot work in certain jobs and domestic violence convictions cannot be sealed or expunged from the record.
Neither can domestic violence cases where there is a probationary sentence without a finding of guilt. So you have two sets of consequences, direct consequences and then you have potentially lifelong collateral consequences that may not involve a lengthy period of incarceration yet may impact income, earnings, lifestyle, and the quality of life for the rest of someone’s life.
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