In 1998, Palm Beach County and the State Attorney's Office created a separate court to solely handle misdemeanor domestic violence crimes. This domestic violence court hears domestic battery and violation of injunction cases. There is one judge assigned to this court to deal with these cases, and in Palm Beach County alone, there are more than 4,000 cases of domestic battery per year - nearly 2/3 of all domestic violence cases in that year. Whether or not these defendants were found guilty or innocent, the arrest can seriously affect their life.
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What is domestic battery?
This offense involves violence between spouses or any family member or person living in the same residence. In order to be considered battery, rather than domestic violence it must have been physical abuse.
Can I be charged if the person who accused me of domestic battery decided
not to press charges?
Yes. The State Attorney's Office can continue on pressing charges even if the alleged victim chooses to not pursue charges.
What are the potential penalties for domestic battery?
An individual charged with domestic battery faces a maximum of one year in the county jail, plus fines and a possible restraining order. Additionally, having a conviction for domestic battery will bar an individual from ever owning a firearm.
When someone is first arrested for domestic battery, they are not given a bond until they see a judge the following morning. At that hearing, the judge will then determine a proper bond. Additionally, depending on the alleged victim's desires, and the State Attorney's recommendation, the judge may also order that the defendant have no contact with the alleged victim. This means that the defendant will only be allowed to return to the home (assuming the Defendant lives with the alleged victim) one time to the home. This one-time-return will be done in the presence of a deputy sheriff and for sole purpose of the defendant gathering his/her livable household belongings. Thereafter, the defendant will not be allowed to have contact with the alleged victim or this home until the case is over and/or until further court order.
At the outset, a defense attorney can be helpful in obtaining a favorable condition of release for the client. After the arrest, the State Attorney's office reviews all cases and makes a decision as to whether a case will be filed. For this reason, it is imperative that a defendant hire a lawyer to investigate the case and provide the office with evidence in support of the defendant. This may have an effect on the State Attorney's office's discretion in filing charges. If charges are nevertheless filed, the case needs to be prepared for trial and any and all necessary motions should be filed.
As a former Assistant Public Defender, I spent almost one year in the domestic violence division. Here, I only tried domestic battery cases. During this time and most recently in private practice, I have represented hundreds of clients charged with domestic violence offenses. I have tried and won many of these cases in front of a jury. The legal team here at my firm can take on your case and make sure that your rights are protected.