Charged in Pinellas County with Domestic Battery?
We Are St. Petersburg/ Clearwater Lawyers Who Understand How the System Works
If you are in need of an experienced Pinellas County domestic battery attorney, we are well qualified to help. As former State Prosecutors we investigated countless domestic battery allegations in an effort to determine whether formal charges against the accused were warranted. This experience provided us with an invaluable opportunity to learn the tactics of our opponent, as well as the priorities of the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office.
We witnessed first hand the strategies and tactics used by the Prosecution. In that position, we were also privy to the State’s areas of weakness. By learning our adversary’s technique and approach from the inside, and with a combined total of over thirty years experience in criminal law, we can provide you with a qualified St. Petersburg Domestic Battery Attorney to help you make an informed decision about your case.
How Important are the Feelings of the Victim?
At one time, the feelings of the victim played a major role in whether charges would be filed or simply dropped. The situation today is much different. The prosecution of O.J. Simpson brought enormous attention to this offense and subsequent public and media pressure for reform. Domestic violence came under the intense scrutiny of the Florida legislature. Law enforcement developed new policies, the court system implemented far-reaching changes, and our local Pinellas County State Attorneys Office has taken an active role in zealously enforcing both new and existing laws. Several recent cases in Pinellas County have further hardened the attitude of the local criminal justice system toward domestic violence offenders.
The Pinellas County State Attorneys Office will not drop the domestic battery charge simply at the victim’s request. They take the position that a crime of domestic violence is not just a crime against a particular person, but a crime against the People of the State of Florida as a whole. Consequently, the State Attorney’s Office will often pursue a domestic battery case with or without the victim’s cooperation.
Florida’s “Zero Tolerance” Approach Towards Domestic Battery Offenses
Society’s changing viewpoint is best exemplified by the change in Florida law requiring a no bond status for anyone arrested and charged with domestic violence. Likewise, a law effective July 1, 2001 automatically causes a second domestic violence offense to be treated as a felony. Similarly, the Florida Legislature passed additional legislation in 2007 that felonizes even first time domestic battery offenses if “strangulation” is alleged.
The police will typically make an arrest in every case if any type of battery or assault is apparent, even if there is a lack of injury. Gone are the days of sending a domestic violence suspect over to a friend or relatives house to cool off. Read our blog article on Pinellas County’s Specialized Domestic Violence Courtroom
In general, the court system does not provide specialized courtrooms limited to hearing cases involving a particular type of crime. For example, our court system has no specialized courtroom for cases involving theft or DUI. However, the Pinellas County Court System has established a specialized courtroom where domestic violence cases are heard exclusively. This courtroom is presided over by a single judge who hears all domestic violence cases arising out of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, or other area of Pinellas County. The facility is outfitted to address this particular area of the law, including the investment in state-of-the-art computer equipment.
Why Am I Charged with a Domestic Battery?
Domestic violence is defined under Florida law to include spouses, former spouses, relatives, persons who reside together as if a family, persons who formerly resided together as if a family, or persons who have a child in common. See Florida Statute Sections 741.28(2) and 741.28(3).
Battery is defined as the intentional touching or striking of a person against their will, regardless of injury. See Florida Statutes Section 784.03.
Depending upon the facts and circumstances of your case, the following solutions may be available to you.
Early Intervention – Persuading the Pinellas County State Attorney Not to Prosecute…Getting the Charge Dropped Quickly
Simply because you have been arrested does not mean that the prosecutor has to file a formal charge against you. In spite of the zero tolerance policy adopted by law enforcement, prompt intervention by an attorney experienced with the Pinellas County criminal justice system may convince the prosecutor to decline to prosecute you. Retaining a St. Petersburg Domestic Battery Attorney from our office can help you to present your case in a favorable light and to provide the State with your side of the story. Here are some of the factors that may make a difference:
- Lack of injury or the minor nature of the injuries involved.
- Whether medical attention was required or sought by the victim.
- Prior criminal history and nature of the past offenses.
- The role that alcohol may have played in the dispute.
- The feelings of the victim and whether the victim has signed a Request Not to Prosecute. (A St. Petersburg Domestic Battery Attorney in our office can prepare this document and insure that it reaches the case connected Assistant State Attorney.)
- Whether any children were present at the time the incident occurred.
- Who called the police to the scene.
How to Get the No Contact Order Lifted – We are Pinellas County Domestic Battery Attorneys Who Can Help
If a no contact order has been made in your case, we can go to court on your behalf and request to have the order modified. If the “motion to modify conditions of release” is granted, you will be allowed to once again have lawful contact with the alleged victim. Getting the order modified is essential in avoiding a subsequent arrest for violating the “no contact” provision. It may also be viewed as a first step toward reconciliation between the parties. Learn more on our page discussing How to Get a No Contact Order Dropped.
Domestic Violence Diversion Program – Getting The Charge Dismissed
The Pinellas County State Attorneys Office operates a domestic violence diversion program. This program is designed for first-time offenders and requires that you complete twenty-six weeks of anger management counseling (also referred to as the “Batterer’s Intervention Program.”)
- For a pre-determined period of time you are required to stay out of trouble and commit no further crimes.
- Upon satisfactory completion of all the conditions of the program, the domestic violence charge is dismissed by the Judge.
A St. Petersburg Domestic Battery Attorney in our office can help you to make application to the diversion program and advocate on your behalf for acceptance.
Learn more about getting your charge dismissed through your participation in a Pre-Trial diversion program.
Plea Bargains – Avoiding Conviction
We can negotiate with the Prosecutor and the Judge for a final disposition in your case. This agreed-upon final outcome may be structured to:
- Not jeopardize employment.
- Extend time to meet court imposed financial obligations.
- Avoid formal convictions.
Every Domestic Violence Case is Unique
Don’t rely solely on the advice of family members or friends. Speak with an experienced Clearwater / St. Petersburg Domestic Battery Attorney before deciding on a course of action. Take the time to meet with us to discuss the individual facts and circumstances of your case.