Domestic violence charges can impact more than just family relationships. Under Florida law, domestic violence means “assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.” These charges can carry jail time and steep fines, and can remain on your criminal record for life. But, is there a way to get a domestic violence charge off your record by sealing or expunging, especially when you are not guilty?
In this article, a Pinellas County domestic violence lawyer with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan shares tips to help you understand the circumstances in which a domestic violence charge may be removed from your record.
A Plea of Guilty or No Contest Will Prevent You From Sealing the Case
In Florida, domestic violence is a criminal charge. Further, it is one of the 35 charges in Florida which cannot be sealed or expunged, regardless of whether adjudication was withheld. But, this does not mean that simply being charged with domestic violence will result in an inability to remove the case from your criminal record. However, it is the manner in which you RESOLVE the case which will keep you eligible to do so!
If you plead guilty or no contest to a domestic violence charge, you cannot have a domestic violence charge expunged from your record. Your plea will become a matter of public record. If you are found not guilty, the charge may be expunged or sealed and therefore no longer part of your record. If the charge is amended to a non-domestic violence offense, such as “disorderly conduct,” you would likewise be eligible to seal the case, so long as adjudication is withheld. Likewise, obtaining a dismissal of the charge through a Pre-Trial Diversion Program also allows the sealing of your record of arrest and the court case, so long as you have not been previously convicted of any other criminal offense.
Do Not Violate No-Contact Orders
You must abide by any no-contact order with the alleged victim. Violating a court order of No Contact may result in an ADDITIONAL CHARGE and subject you to further criminal penalties that make it impossible to seal or expunge the charge from your record. This would be true even if the underlying domestic battery charge was dropped.
Hire an Experienced Pinellas County Domestic Violence Attorney
Domestic violence cases are complicated in Florida. You will typically receive a “No Bond” after arrest and be held in jail until you see a judge within 24 hours of arrest. Judges in Pinellas County routinely order No Contact with the alleged victim until a full hearing can be set to address whether there is a concern of a repeat incident and whether the alleged victim is in fear. To make matters worse, domestic violence arrests cannot be sealed or expunged until you have resolved the matter in a way that permits the case to be sealed or expunged. Clearly, anyone facing a charge with such far reaching consequences should consult a Pinellas County domestic violence attorney.
Contacting an attorney does not mean that you are guilty. A lawyer can help you navigate this process throughout every stage of your case. Your lawyer will seek to negotiate a solution to the matter that is in your best interest.
If you have been arrested and charged with domestic violence charges, a Pinellas County domestic violence lawyer with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan can help. Your attorney will discuss the best strategy to approach your case and will provide you with clear guidance on the best defense available.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.