Domestic violence – it’s a catch-all term that can include anything from misdemeanor battery to murder. Domestic violence is defined in Florida as “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” according to Florida Statute Section 741.28. People are considered “family members” when they are related by blood or marriage or they live together as a family or lived together in the past as a family. People can also be considered “family members” under the domestic violence law if they share a child in common, regardless of whether or not they’ve ever been married to each other or lived together. For example, a husband and wife would clearly fall under the category of “family members.” A brother and sister, even if now adults living apart, would qualify; a mother and child qualify; a man and woman who have a baby together qualify; a boyfriend and girlfriend who live together qualify; same-sex domestic partners would qualify. However, a boyfriend and girlfriend who have never lived together would not qualify as “family members” and therefore, it would not be considered domestic violence under the law of Florida.
The charges that are included in this definition of domestic violence span the criminal landscape from the lowest possible penalty (second degree misdemeanors such as assault) to the highest possible penalty (such as murder, a capital felony).
And it is often in the realm of domestic violence where people are shocked by a sudden outburst of violence within a family unit. Such was the case of Eric Montgomery, who is currently being held without bond for the New Year’s Day murders of his wife and college-aged daughter. The details of the shooting are still unclear, but it appears that the daughter, Alexis Hamilton, said something to Montgomery after he spoke harshly to her mother, Natalia Hamilton. Montgomery responded by shooting and killing both Alexis and Natalia. The couple’s seven-year-old daughter was also present during the shooting but was unharmed.
Montgomery did have a criminal record, which included some violent crimes, such as aggravated assault on a police officer. But he had no record of such a violent incident as happened on New Year’s Day, which left family members stunned.
Oftentimes, although family members are unaware, such instances of extreme violence have a history within the family, although unreported. Florida law does have a means of protecting the victims of domestic violence before it erupts into a shootout. This is done by the creation of a special injunction, or restraining order, that is focused on domestic violence.
If you or a friend or family member have been the victim of domestic violence, it is important to speak with an attorney today who can assist you in seeking an injunction to protect you from future harm. At the Law Offices of Richard Tendler, we have extensive experience in domestic violence issues and we know how to successfully navigate the legal system to help protect you.