Q. WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE BEEN ARRESTED FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Contact a domestic violence attorney who handles these types of cases immediately. Domestic violence attorney Michael Mastrogiovanni handles cases in Tampa, New Port Richey, Clearwater and Spring Hill and throughout the Tampa Bay region. Early involvement can mean the difference between having:
- A permanent criminal record and mugshot that can be found by your employer or anyone on the internet;
- Not being eligible for a concealed weapons permit;
- Not being able to have contact with your significant other;
- Not being able to reside in your own home.
Q. WHAT IS THE NO CONTACT PROVISION OF MY RELEASE? WHY DID THE JUDGE ORDER THAT I HAVE NO CONTACT WITH MY FAMILY MEMBER?
During your first appearance hearing within 24 hours of the arrest, the judge in a domestic violence case will set bond and one of the conditions is a no contact provision between the defendant and the victim. “No contact” means direct, indirect and through third party. Specifically this means:
- You cannot directly call the victim.
- You cannot indirectly contact the victim by sending flowers or a card.
- You cannot have a third party call or contact the victim on your behalf to relay a message.
If you violate this NO CONTACT provision your bond can revoked, you can be re-arrested and possibly remain in jail until the case is resolved or the court no longer has jurisdiction in your case, and the state can file additional criminal charges against you for violating the terms of pre-trial release.
The only person that can have contact with the victim on your behalf is your attorney who has the right to speak with the victim and discuss the circumstances and potential outcome of your case.
Q. CAN I JUST DROP THE DOMESTIC CHARGES AGAINST MY BOYFRIEND, HUSBAND OR FAMILY MEMBER?
One of the most common falsehoods by non-lawyers and victims of domestic violence is that they have the legal ability to go file paperwork or speak with the prosecutor and make the decision to drop charges or dismiss a case. This is completely false. Only the state attorney has the ability to make this decision. When I was working in the domestic division at the state attorney’s office the phrase we commonly used when explaining why we would still prosecute a case against the victim’s wishes was, “It’s the State of Florida vs. your spouse, you cannot make the decision to drop or dismiss the case.”
Q. WHAT JUDGE WILL PRESIDE OVER MY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE?
Domestic violence cases are one of the most commonly prosecuted crimes in Florida. In Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough and Hernando Counties Domestic violence cases are assigned to a specific prosector or division that deals with these crimes. These are:
- In Pinellas County domestic violence cases are handled in division R by specially trained prosecutors. Judge Cathy McKyton, a former statewide prosecutor is assigned to this division and presides over these cases.
- In Hillsborough County domestic cases are handled by specially assigned prosecutors. Judge Richard Weis a former family court judge is assigned to this division and presides over these cases.
- In Hernando County domestic violence cases are assigned to a special prosecutor who splits time between Judge Scaglione and Judge Hitzemann who both preside over these cases.
Q. WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Domestic violence is defined by Florida Statute as:
- any 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.
Q. WHAT IS A FAMILY OR HOUSEHOLD MEMBER IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES?
A family or household member is defined by Florida Statute as:
- Spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.
Q. WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR DOMESTIC BATTERY?
Florida Statute 784.03 specifically defines battery as:
- When a person actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against their will or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person. The crime is first degree misdemeanor punishable up to a $1000.00 fine and 1 year in the county jail. The penalties are more severe if you have been found guilty by trial or ever entered a plea, regardless adjudication being withheld, to a prior battery, aggravated battery or aggravated assault. If you fall within this category the state attorney can enhance the charge to a 3rd degree felony punishable by a $5000 fine and 5 years in prison even if you were only arrested for a misdemeanor. In addition the judge can require a batterer’s intervention course consisting of 26 weeks of counseling and can require that the no contact provision remain during the entire period of probation.