Written by attorney John Stephen Hager

Domestic Violence Charges: Felony or Misdemeanor

Domestic violence is taken very seriously in the state of Florida. Depending on the facts surrounding the case, the severity of the injuries and any prior history of domestic violence, it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense.

Have you been charges with domestic violence? If so, you better take action quick in order to protect your legal rights. Domestic violence is one charge that is taken extremely seriously, yet it is frequently abused in bitter breakups, contested divorces and child custody battles. Even if you are entirely innocent of the allegations against you, you could still end up with a criminal conviction.

There is a lot of heat on law enforcement to put a stop to domestic violence. When they receive a call, they can arrest the accused regardless if there is any credible evidence at the time of arrest. Since there are often times no other witnesses to the event, they have to take the word of the supposed victim as factual information at the time of arrest.

This “overkill" by law enforcement can eventually get you into a lot of trouble with the prosecution. Even if the alleged victim decides to drop all charges against you, it will be entirely up to the prosecution whether or not to move forward with the charges. For this reason, it is extremely important that you retain your own legal representation. Failure to hire a private attorney can cost you your freedom and your parental rights if you are eventually found guilty.

What exactly is domestic violence? Domestic violence refers to violence between spouses, people who live together, people who share a child in common, or people either in a relationship or people who were formally in a relationship. It encompasses any type of physical violence including: pushing, shoving, hitting with an open hand, punching, kicking, striking with an object, choking, spousal rape, sexual assault or any other type of unwanted sexual contact. Outside of relationships, these types of acts would otherwise be criminalized under assault, battery and sex crimes. Whether they are taken out against a perfect stranger, or your spouse, they are illegal either way and are punishable to the full extent of the law.

Domestic violence charges can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony. How they are filed will be up to the prosecutor and will be based on the extent of the injuries, and any prior reported incidents for the accused. If the accused does have a prior criminal history and/or a history of domestic violence on record, both will have an effect on how the charges are eventually filed against the accused.

A misdemeanor conviction can result in a brief jail sentence for the accused. They can also be required to take anger management classes or participate in a domestic intervention program. They can be required to perform community service, they may be subject to various fines and/or charitable donations and they may be subject to a Stay-Away Order which prohibits them from contacting the victim.

A person convicted of a felony is subject to the same penalties as above; however, they face lengthier prison sentences, and greater penalties. Fortunately, domestic violence charges can be fought by an aggressive attorney. In many cases, people who are accused of domestic violence can have opportunities to accept alternatives to jail sentencing such as probation or counseling. In some cases, your lawyer may be able to get your case dismissed without you ever having to appear in court. If you have been accused of domestic violence, you don’t want to risk your future and your freedom by making any mistakes. Contact a highly qualified criminal defense attorney who has experience in handling these types of cases without delay.

Additional resources provided by the author

The Law Offices of Hager & Schwartz, P.A. has been proudly representing the residents of Miami, Florida and the surrounding areas for years. Their firm handles all types of criminal cases from domestic violence to white collar crimes to murder. Their Miami criminal defense attorneys understand what types of issues you are presently facing and they know what kind of impact a criminal conviction would have on your future. Despite what conditions brought you to a criminal investigation or charges, they are prepared to defend you to the finish. They want nothing more than to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case with the least possible penalties. If there is evidence that can exonerate you, they will leave no stone unturned to find it. You deserve the best representation available, contact a Miami criminal defense attorney from the firm for a free consultation at (800) 827-5193.

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