Arrested for Domestic Violence in Florida .... What happens now?
Due to the political nature of domestic violence, a domestic battery charge is treated differently than most other crimes. Therefore, it is important that you speak with an experienced domestic violence attorney about the facts of your case. The following are some frequently asked questions:
Can I bond out of jail?Yes, but not right away. In a domestic battery case, you must go before a judge for what's called a First Appearance before you are able to bond out of jail. This should take place within 24 hours of your arrest. At a first appearance hearing, you may be either physically taken to a courtroom to appear before a judge, or you may appear via closed circuit television. The judge will first review the arrest affidavit to see if there was probable cause for your arrest. Comparatively speaking, this is a very low legal standard. It is far from the prosecution's burden at trial where they must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If indeed the judge finds that there was probable cause for your arrest, he or she will set a bond, as well as other conditions of your pretrial release.
How does the judge determine the bond amount?The court can take into consideration factors such as the facts as alleged in the arrest affidavit, your prior arrests, especially if you have previously been arrested for the same crime involving the same alleged victim, any other pending cases, whether the alleged victim has a restraining order against you, whether you are currently employed, how long you have lived in the area, whether you have family in the area, and any other ties you may have to the community. The court will weigh all of these factors when setting your bond amount. The judge may also order you to be on GPS monitoring or home confinement, whereby you would be required to wear an ankle monitor.
Is there any alternative to posting a monetary bond?If you qualify, the judge may agree to release you to a pretrial services program. These programs allow you to get out of jail without posting any sort of monetary bond. However, you must comply with the program requirements, which usually include having a verifiable local address where the alleged victim will not be staying, and reporting in person to their office once a week until the case is concluded. This does not close your case. You are still required to be present for all scheduled court appearances.
What is a Stay Away Order?Just what it sounds like. You must stay away and have absolutely no contact with the alleged victim in the case. The judge will impose these orders in all domestic violence cases. The stay away order means that you cannot be within 500 feet of the alleged victim, and you cannot contact them directly or indirectly through telephone calls, text messages, emails, Facebook or any other social media, or through a third party. If you live with the alleged victim, you will not be able to go back home as long as the stay away order is in place. All of this is true, even if the alleged victim is the one who tries to contact you. The stay away order is against you, not the victim. You are the only one that can be arrested for violating it. A frequent example of this is that the victim may call you and say that it's okay for you to come home. They may even post your bond and try to pick you up at the jail. This is not okay. If you have any contact with the victim, even if the contact is initiated by the victim, you could be arrested and charged with violating the stay away order, which is a first degree misdemeanor and you could face up to a year in jail. Additionally, the judge may revoke your bond in the original case because you have violated one of the pretrial release conditions of having no contact with the alleged victim. Another example I see are cases where the defendant and alleged victim are riding in a car together and get pulled over for a traffic violation. The police will run both of their names, see that there is a stay away order in place, and arrest the defendant for violating the stay away order. It is important to know that the only person that can modify this stay away order is the judge. If the victim wishes to have contact with you, that person must appear before the court to ask for a modification. It is up to the judge to decide whether that request will be granted.