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 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.
It is important to note that under the definition, with the one exception of parents who have a child in common, the persons who are 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:
At The Law Offices of James B. Coulter, we represent people accused of any offense that may be considered domestic violence in the Brevard County and Brevard County Courts We fight for the rights of the accused both in criminal proceedings and in injunctions for protection hearings 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.
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:
“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.
The law itself lists multiple offenses that may be considered domestic violence if allegedly committed against a person with whom has a relationship described above. Those offenses include:
Additionally, there are offenses that only occur in a domestic violence setting. For example:
Under the Florida statute, any offense that causes “physical injury or death” can be considered domestic violence.
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.
Someone who is convicted of a domestic violence offense 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.
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 the sworn to statements of the alleged victim, as well as any and all reports and/or documents that might be attached to the Petition for Injunction for Protection. If the judge finds in the victim’s favor, he or she will then issue a temporary order protecting the petitioner for a limited amount of time. This is an ex parte proceeding, meaning the accused does not have the opportunity to be represented.
The temporary order lasts 15 days. Before the end of the 15 days, the court will schedule a hearing for to determine if a permanent order based on the petition for injunction for protection should be made. 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 protective order hearings when others are seeking injunctions for protection against them.
Over a decade ago and Before Mr. Coulter had taken the Florida bar exam, while he was still in law school, he spent a year volunteering as a Certifed Legal Intern for the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid where he assisted victims for free 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 the Injunction for Protection Hearings. Whoever the attorney is for which you decide to consult with, please make sure that they have handled issues involving domestic violence in the past. Please 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 on the subject. Protection yourself and ensure that that you are properly advised of your rights and remedies under Florida Law if an injunction for protection has been filed against you in Brevard County or any of the other counties in Central Florida.
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.
Brevard County, as well as Melbourne, are both popular and busy destinations to live as well as 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 police and often times do, 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.
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 Cocoa. 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.
A Melbourne attorney can represent you. You may not even have to return to Brevard County as often times we can handle the case without your presence.
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
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.
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.