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Criminal Charges and Domestic Violence in Florida

James Coulter Domestic Violence Attorney 

Sometimes things become heated between two people who are close. Sometimes, this can escalate into accusations of violence or of threats of violence. When reported to police, these accusations can set off a chain of events that can be very difficult to stop, and that can result in very severe consequences, even if the person accused is not convicted.  

Domestic Violence in Florida is defined within Chapter 741, Section 28 of the Florida Statutes as an 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, committed by a family or household member against another family or household member.  Under Florida Statutes "family or household member"  is defined as person whom are: 1) current or former spouses, 2) persons related by blood or marriage, 3) persons currently or formerly residing together as a family, or 4) parents who have a child in common, regardless of whether they were at any time married.   For a reading of the statute please refer to the following link

It is important to note that under the definition, with the one exception of parents who have a child in common, any persons who are defined as being involved in "domestic violence", must currently or previously have resided together in the same single dwelling unit in order to be considered a "family or household" member under Florida law.   

Some of the domestic violence matters our firm handles include but are not limited to the following:

  • Domestic Assault / Battery
  • Domestic Battery by Strangulation
  • Domestic Battery on a Pregnant Female
  • Domestic Violence by sexual assault or battery
  • Domestic Violence by false imprisonment
  • Domestic Violence by kidnapping
  • Child Abuse / Neglect
  • Stalking
  • Protection Order Hearing
  • Violation of a Protective Order
  • Batterer Intervention Program

Brevard County Domestic Violence Lawyer

At The Law Offices of James B. Coulter, we represent people accused of any offense that may be considered domestic violence in the areas surrounding the city of Melbourne and Brevard County and within the Brevard County Courts.  We fight for the rights of the accused both in criminal proceedings and in injunctions for protection hearings in Brevard Florida that often accompany abuse allegations.   

A Melbourne Florida domestic violence lawyer from The Law Offices of James B. Coulter will fight to obtain the best possible result for you and your family. We represent both natives of the Melbourne Florida and Brevard County area as well as visitors from out of state or out of the country. Give us a call at (321) 586-9944 to set up a free consultation.

Florida Domestic Violence Information Center

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Relationships Covered Under the Law

Under Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.28, Domestic Violence is defined as any one of many criminal acts involving physical harm or the threat of physical harm when that act takes place between people who have  a certain relationship.

The relationship can be by blood, by marriage or by personal history. People who may be victims under the law include:

  • Husbands and wives
  • Ex-husbands and ex-wives
  • Sons and daughters
  • Mothers and fathers
  • Stepsons and stepdaughters
  • Stepmothers and stepfathers
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Someone who is residing or has resided with the accused as family
  • Someone with whom the accused has had a child

“Dating violence” is also covered under Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.046(d)(1). Dating violence carries the same penalties and consequences as domestic violence. It can occur if the two involved parties have had a significant romantic or intimate relationship in the past six months.

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Offenses Considered Domestic Violence in Florida

Florida Statutes Domestic Violence section articulates multiple offenses that may be considered domestic violence if allegedly committed against a person with whom has a relationship described above. Those offenses include:

  • Assault and Aggravated Assault
  • Battery and Aggravated Battery
  • Stalking and Aggravated Stalking
  • Kidnapping and False Imprisonment

Additionally, there are offenses that only occur in a domestic violence setting. For example:

  • Felony Battery by Strangulation (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 784.041)
  • Child Abuse, Aggravated Child Abuse and Neglect (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 827.03)
  • Unlawful Desertion of a Child (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 827.10)

Under the Florida statute, any offense that causes “physical injury or death” can be considered domestic violence.

Penalties for Domestic Violence in Brevard Florida 

A Defendant who has been Adjudicated Guilty or Pled Guilty to even the simplest form of a domestic violence offence in the state of Florida is required to serve a minimum of one-year probation, during which time the defendant must also attend a batterers' intervention program that can at times be extremely demanding and difficult to complete.   In the state of Florida, the court is required by Florida Statutes to impose the batterers' intervention program as a condition of the defendant's probation unless the court specifically states on the record why it believes the program would not be appropriate.  

Unfortunately, every year in the state of Florida there are additional financial penalties that are added to the mandatory sentencing of domestic violence Defendants that are adjudicated guilty.  Prior to entering a plea of guilty to a domestic violence charge it is of the greatest importance to consult a domestic violence criminal defense attorney as to the effects that such a plea can and will have on one's name and record for the remainder of their life.  

Someone who is convicted of a domestic violence battery charge involving the intentional infliction of bodily harm to another person must also serve a minimum of five (5) days jail in the county jail unless the defendant's sentence includes a non-suspended period or incarceration in a state correctional facility.   

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Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence in Brevard County Florida

When there is an accusation of domestic violence, the victim may seek a protective order under Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.30 and Fla. Stat. Ann. § 784.046. The judge will receive their Petition for Injunction for Protection, and decide whether, under a preponderance of evidence standard, the person is at risk based on sworn to statements provided by the alleged victim as well as any and all documentation that might be attached to a Petition for Injunction for Protection.    If the judge finds that the allegations within the petition raise to the level required according to Florida Statute to obtain an injunction, he or she will then issue a temporary order protecting the petitioner for a limited amount of time until the issue can be brought to trial. This is what is known as an ex parte proceeding, meaning the accused does not have the opportunity to be represented.

When a temporary order based on a petition is signed by a judge or magistrate, the order lasts up to 15 days.  Before the end of the 15 days, Florida Statutes requires that court to schedule a hearing to determine if a permanent order based on the allegations within the petition for injunction for protection should be granted.  A permanent order could require the accused to move out of their house, set child custody, require the accused to provide financially for the victim, require the accused to stay at least 500 feet from the home of their child, from their business, and even from their own home where the if the petitioner is currently residing there.   Such orders have broad authority, and all too often overly limit the rights of the accused.

At this hearing, you can and should be represented by an attorney.   Given that Injunctions for Protection against Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking, or Repeat Violence often times are scheduling before after or during the filing of criminal charges, it is important to at the very least, consult with an attorney prior to attending and/or testifying at such a hearing.  Unfortunately, all too often, respondents have no idea that their testimony will later be used against them in a criminal proceeding.  At The Law Offices of James B. Coulter, we represent people in who are invovled in injunction for protection hearings in Brevard County Florida on both sides of the fight.  

Over a decade ago and well before Mr. Coulter had taken the Florida bar exam,  while he was still in law school, he spent a year volunteering as a Certified Legal Intern for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid where he assisted victims in obtaining protective orders against individuals who had committed violence against them. Since becoming an attorney, Mr. Coulter has represented hundreds of people from the perspective of the Petitioner as well as that of the Respondent at these Injunction for Protection Hearings. Whoever the attorney is for which you decide to consult, please make sure that they have handled cases involving domestic violence in the past.  Make sure that they have actually taken these types of cases to trial in the past.   Inquire as to their experience in the courtroom, their results, and their knowledge of the subject.  Protect yourself and ensure that that you are properly advised of your rights and remedies under the applicable Florida Laws if an injunction for protection has been filed against you in Brevard County or any of the other county in the state of Florida.  

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Victims Do Not Press Charges, and Cannot Drop Them in Florida Domestic Violence Cases

In most criminal charges, the victim’s preference about whether the accused is charged is given some degree of deference. For instance, if the victim of an assault is an old friend of the accused and a drunken argument became physical, police may not even make an arrest if the victim says he does not wish to pursue charges.

The situation is very different when the accused are family members, are dating, or share a certain relationship covered under the law and considered to be "domestic".   Melbourne Florida police and Brevard County Sheriff's are trained to make an arrest in a domestic violence situation if only to separate the accused and the victim.

It is important to realize that it is not the victim who presses charges. It is the people, represented in Brevard County by the State Attorney of the 18th Judicial Circuit of Florida. In domestic violence situations, the state attorney’s office is concerned that victim will become a victim again without intervention. Therefore, in many cases, there is often a “no drop” policy where they will refuse to drop charges, even if the alleged victim has requested that they do so.  

In the heat of the moment, the victim may make an exaggerated or false claim that could result in serious consequences, and there is no going back if the victim later regrets his or her words.

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Brevard County Melbourne and Other Florida Residents Accused of Domestic Violence

Brevard County, as well as Melbourne, are both popular and busy destinations to live as well as to visit.   If employees at any of the local establishments in Brevard, or Disney World, or Universal Studios, or any other resort, hotel, bar, or public establishment in Central Florida believe there is domestic violence incident, they may call the police, even if the parties involved in the altercation did not intend nor want to involve the authorities.  Unfortunately, it does not matter who called law enforcement to the scene.  An arrest can still be made and most often times is made when there are allegations of domestic violence in Brevard County Florida.  

It is important to realize that a domestic violence charge can also follow you home even if you do not live in the state of Florida. If you had an event while on vacation, you may even be extradited back to Florida, in which you are forcefully required, at your expense, to return to Brevard County Florida to face your charges.   If you are an international visitor, you may be barred from returning the United States with serious violent charges pending against you, and if you do not have your citizenship you may well be kicked out of the United States for being convicted of such charges.   

Our Melbourne Florida Brevard County Domestic violence lawyers can represent you. You may not even have to return to Brevard County as often times we can handle the case without your presence. 

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Florida Domestic Violence Resources in Palm Bay and Melbourne

Harbor House of Central Florida — With a shelter containing 102 beds and a transitional housing unit with eight bed, this is the only state-certified domestic violence shelter in Brevard County. The website has answers to frequently asked questions, videos about domestic violence, and seasonal newsletters as well as annual impact reports.

P.O. Box 680748
Orlando, FL 32868
(407) 886-2244

Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) — FCADV is the professional association for the state’s 42 domestic violence centers. The website contains information about programs, upcoming events, and safety planning.

FCADV Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-500-1119

Florida Department of Children and Families — This website has links to fact sheets, forms, and other publications. You can also find news, press releases, and information about many additional services offered by the department.

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Finding a Brevard County, Florida Attorney for Domestic Violence Charges

At The Law Offices of James B. Coulter, we represent people accused of domestic violence in the Melbourne and Rockledge area, including Palm Bay, West Melbourne, Indian Harbour Beach, Titusville, Viera, Melbourne, Rockledge, Satellite Beach, Indialantic Beach, Melbourne Beach, Palm Shores, and in all other local areas with regards to both criminal proceedings and in protective order hearings, (also known as Injunction for Protection Hearings).  We fight for the rights of people who live in Melbourne the surrounding areas and visitors. Call a Melbourne, Florida domestic violence lawyer at The Law Offices of James B. Coulter today at (321) 586-9944 to schedule a free consultation.

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Law Offices of James B. Coulter
1402 Highway A1A, Ste A Satellite Beach , FL 32937
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