It seems like every morning there’s another domestic violence case the news. Sadly, this perception is close to reality, because domestic violence is a serious problem in Florida.
Let’s look at the last weekend in February. Over the course of just two days, police in Florida began to investigate the following cases, all of which are in some way related to domestic violence:
- An attempted murder-suicide in Volusia County
- An officer-involved shooting in Casselberry
- A man who violated his domestic violence injunction by attacking two women with an ax in Marion County
- A man who stabbed an estranged girlfriend at a Cocoa bus stop
- A domestic violence suspect who fled in Kissimmee
- A woman attacked by her ex’s new girlfriend in Flagler County
This is just one weekend. Worse, it only covers what happened in Central Florida.
Over the course of a typical year in the Sunshine State, there are individual counties that have thousands of domestic violence cases reported. For example, Escambia County has some of the highest rates for domestic violence in the state. There were 3,800 reported instances of domestic violence in 2015 alone. Of those reported instances, 1,740 arrests were made. Thousands of domestic violence arrests were also made in 2015 in at least six other counties, including Marion and Osceola.
It’s not just Florida, either. What you’re really looking at is a microcosm of what domestic looks like in America in the 21st century. Every minute, 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner. National domestic violence organizations receive over 20,000 phone calls each day.
Here’s the worst part, though: over 50% of all domestic violence cases go unreported, so the number of domestic violence victims and incidents is probably much, much higher.
Domestic violence is something that tears apart families and leaves victims in fear for their lives. Many domestic violence situations, if not stopped, can lead to death for the victim. Four thousand women are killed each year from domestic violence.
How Is Florida Law Enforcement Fighting Domestic Violence?
Each domestic violence case is different. If a police officer responds to a domestic violence call, they may charge the alleged abuser any number of crimes, including things like assault or aggravated battery.
When domestic violence is involved, it comes with additional penalties attached such as domestic violence education. Individuals who have been convicted of domestic violence crimes are also prohibited from buying, possessing, or using firearms due to federal laws.
For misdemeanor offenses, an individual will have to spend at least five days in jail for committing domestic violence, but may be in jail for up to 60 days, or even a year in some cases.
Depending on the harm done to the victim, past criminal convictions, and other aggravating factors, domestic violence crimes can be as serious as a second degree felony. Second degree felony charges call for up to 15 years behind bars.
In addition, many victims of domestic violence will take out injunctions or restraining orders against their abusers. If the injunction or restraining order is violated, the defendant will face first degree misdemeanor charges and may spend a year in jail.
Of course, that’s how things are handled in the courtroom. The first people you will interact with if someone reports you for domestic violence are the police, and things are rarely so neat and tidy.
In Englewood, police recently responded to a domestic violence call and found an armed man when they arrived at the home. They shot and killed him, and details are still surfacing related to the killing and what led the police to fatally shoot the man at the scene.
Now, obviously most domestic violence calls are not going to end in a fatal shooting. However, the story does speak to both unintended consequences and how quickly situations can escalate.
If you are in a heated argument with a loved one and the police arrive, do your best to cool down fast and obey their instructions. Florida cops take domestic violence seriously because they have seen many of the horrific consequences of it.
Don’t let their overzealousness make you a statistic, and don’t give them any reason to mistake your actions for a threat. You have to fight back against domestic violence charges, but the time to do it is not when the police arrive on the scene.
Instead, be cool and calm no matter what happens and ask to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. It is possible to avoid jail time and convictions after you have been arrested and charged with domestic violence. Reach out to a Florida criminal defense lawyer today.
About the Author:
Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he’s done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.