Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

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What Is Domestic Violence
And Battery?

Florida Statute 741.28 covers Domestic Violence which can mean any type of battery, assault, sexual offense, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death. The difference between regular battery and domestic violence is that battery is between a stranger or an acquaintance. Whereas if it’s a family or household member, it is defined as domestic violence. Domestic violence can occur between a boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, mother/son or it can be two people living together in a romantic or family relation.

Role Of Domestic Violence Or Battery In Divorce Cases

In every divorce case, there tends to be heightened emotions. In divorce case, lawyers do tend to see not just domestic battery and violence but they also notice uptakes in things such as stalking and violation of injunctions.

Domestic Violence Can Be A Simple Or Serious Charge

The severity of a charge of domestic violence depends on the charge. Domestic violence can be as simple as a second- degree misdemeanor assault, domestic assault to a misdemeanor battery, going all the way up to a very serious felony charge that can lead to lifetime imprisonment. The offender can also be held in jail without bond, as the domestic division in Pinellas County tends to be very strict. In cases where the Defendant is not allowed to have contact with the victim but violates the court order, the judge can hold them in contempt, or even order the Defendant in jail without bond.  The State Attorney can charge the defendant with a new crime, typically violation of pretrial release or even a more serious tampering with a victim charge! This can happen even if the victim initiated contact with the defendant.

You Cannot Contact Your Spouse, Partner, Or Children After Your Arrest

Almost immediately after the arrest, even on the first appearance, the judge can prevent the suspect from contacting their spouse, partner or children. Even if this offender is released by the judge after an appearance in front of him/her, the judge will usually order “No contact with the alleged victim”, meaning in most cases, the spouse, family member or partner. In cases where the victim is their own child, the offender will not be able to have contact with them. Many times, the judge will allow one supervised visit, usually with the sheriff’s office or police, so the suspect can pick up a few personal belongings, but they will have to leave the house.

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What Happens When A Person Is Charged With Domestic Violence In Florida?

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What Should Someone Expect Once They Have Been Charged With A Domestic Violence Charge?

If you’ve been charged with domestic violence, it’s important to call an experienced criminal defense firm that can handle your case. The reason for that is because the police and the prosecutor in Florida believe in an active prosecution. An active prosecution means that even if you think it’s a minor incident or even when the alleged victim doesn’t want to prosecute, the prosecutor and the police often go forward with the charges.  In the past, prosecutors often dropped domestic cases once the victim wished not to prosecute.  This is no longer the case.  Previously the state thought the reason victims declined to prosecute was because they were getting pressure from the defendant. As a result, the state of Florida takes a very aggressive and a very active stance towards domestic violence prosecution. Therefore, it is important to hire a defense attorney right from the very beginning because there are certain tactics that we can use to get the very best possible result.

As Saint Petersburg, Florida domestic violence attorneys, we often get asked many of these questions below.  We have taken some of our most frequently asked questions and over the next few weeks will be answering these.

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What Is Domestic Violence And Battery? Blake & Dorsten P.A. Explain. 5

St. Pete domestic violence attorney.jpg By now this has been the lead story on almost every news cast. We have included a video from CNN that does not show the battery. A copy of that video can be found here. While it is not bloody, it can be disturbing for certain viewers…

As has been previously mentioned, star running back Ray Rice has been suspended indefinitely from the NFL and has been cut from the Baltimore Ravens last Monday. This turn of events occurred only after a new video surfaced showing the football star brutally knocking out his fiancee, now wife in a hotel elevator.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had originally suspended Rice two games for his actions involving the domestic violence. This drew harsh criticism from many people who noted that the NFL was giving out four game suspensions for first-time illegal drug users. Goodell claimed the light sentence was given when he only had access to an earlier video which did not show the actual assault. Rather it showed Rice dragging his unconscious girlfriend out of the elevator.

Back in July, Rice had admitted wrongdoing and he and his wife were in counseling. After this latest suspension, the 27-year-old man may be out of options. Any NFL team that signs him will need the commissioner’s approval to proceed. In addition, the Canadian Football League is not allowed to sign him as long as he is suspended by the NFL.

Rice had previously been given probation by a New Jersey judge after a deal was worked out with the prosecutor. This too has come under intense criticism by many for both the supposed leniency as well as the same judge/prosecutor are now involved in a controversial firearm case.
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In that New Jersey case, a Pennslyvania woman was pulled over in New Jersey. She let the officer know that she had a firearm in her car and that she had a valid firearm permit from her state. Unfortunately for her, New Jersey does not recognize these permits and she was arrested. Despite previous cases of people being offered a diversion program for the same offense, New Jersey prosecutor Jim McClain is refusing to budge. His last offer to the woman, Shaneen Allen, a professional with two children, was 3.5 years prison!

The fact that this prosecutor and Judge Michael Donio consider a brutal domestic battery less of a concern then legal firearm ownership by a military vet and mother has outraged many people.

Is there a double standard? Ray Rice was famous and given a slap on the wrist for his brutal battery. Meanwhile the exact same judge and prosecutor who excused domestic violence appear almost giddy in their attempts to imprison a woman with no criminal record for a mistake.

One thing for certain, there are no winners in either case. The NFL looks soft on crime and the Baltimore Ravens took heat for both their support of Ray Rice and their tweet from Rice’s wife in which it appeared she blamed herself for the incident.

As far as the firearm case, the New Jersey justice system looks weak but especially the judge and the state attorney’s office. Many articles have been written nationally including in USA Today, and local papers.

The one possible bright spot in all this mess is that domestic violence victims are getting increased attention. The old question of “why didn’t (the victim) just walk away?” has been getting answered and the country as a whole has heard about both tragedies now. With increased awareness will hopefully come increased domestic violence education and perhaps a push for more fairness in prosecution for both innocent victims and even the accused.
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Pinellas domestic violence defense lawyers.bmpIn the breaking news department from Tampa Bay Times online, a former city council candidate for the city of Seminole was arrested on a domestic violence related charge.

62-year-old Thomas Christy was arrested by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in his Pinellas home Wednesday and charged with one count of violating an injunction against domestic violence, a misdemeanor.

As of this writing, police were still investigating and the state attorney’s office has not filed charges. The actual allegation appears to come from a text that the defendant allegedly sent to the victim. The text itself did not seem violent, it simply said “Your keys are hanging on the mailbox. You’re nuts. Stay away.”

953593-domestic-violence-callout.jpgFrom the Tampa Bay Times online, in 2012 domestic homicide has seen the largest increase in Pinellas in almost two decades.

The report, commissioned by the Pinellas County Domestic Violence Task Force, recorded 13 homicides last year. This is the highest number they have counted since they started keeping track! Since it started in 1996, there have been 114 fatal domestic violence cases in Pinellas county.

Even worse, five of the homicides were murder-suicides (where the killer takes his/her own life after murdering the partner), bringing the 2012 death total to 18.

Nobody has an answer as to why the sudden increase in domestic violence related deaths. It may take years to find out why because the task force can only study the cases after the criminal justice system is through. The State Attorney’s office and police are hesistant to share information on an open case.

Besides the police, the task force uses a variety of sources for its research including the clerk of court, domestic violence shelters and probation offices, among others.

Per a victim advocate from the Largo Police Department, before last year the highest number of domestic homicide cases were 10 back in 2001. The advocate continued “Behavior is hard to predict and, with domestic homicide, we’re always trying to look at the past to prepare for the future. But sometimes it takes years upon years of data to see a significant trend.”

Among the more notable 2012 Pinellas murders were the following:

– In September a woman fatally stabbed her husband in their Saint Petersburg apartment after he answered a phone call from another woman.

– The day of their divorce court date a man shot his estranged wife and then himself in Clearwater where the woman was staying with her children and a relative.

– A man murders his wife and then shoots himself in a Walgreens parking lot, orphaning their child.

– In August a man kills his girlfriend by running her over as she fled their home in Pinellas Park. The killing was seen by her children.

While the 2012 cases are still going through the court system, there are a few patterns worth noting. For instance all five of the murder-suicides were committed by men with half of the couples in the process of a divorce.

In addition and not surprisingly, alcohol and/or drugs played a role in almost 75% of the tracked cases since 1996. Sadly in almost half the cases the suspect had previously been arrested for domestic violence but a judge never ordered a domestic violence course in nearly three out of every four cases!

Want Help?

To view the Pinellas report, please click on the ndvfri.org website here. The website also has plenty of tips such as:

Friends and relatives: Listen nonjudgmentally; offer to help with money, a ride, storing documents or watching children.

Bosses and co-workers: Hang informational posters in workplace bathrooms; give staff time off for court dates.

Neighbors: Call police if you hear a disturbance; develop a code word the victim can use to alert you to call police.

Clergy members or community leaders: Be available to speak about intimate partner violence or advocate on the issue; partner with shelters to keep women safe.
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953593-domestic-violence-callout.jpgWe have previously written about Violation of Injunction orders (see here) and the different types of injunctions available. In this blog, we are going to continue the discussion on how to actually file for an injunction…

Information on filing an injunction in Pinellas County is not difficult to find. To began, you must first file a petition. This is usually free to do. The Petitioner can file this in the county that he/she resides, where the incident took place or where the Respondent lives. A Petition that is filled out must contain the Respondent’s first and last name, your name (though you CAN write “confidential” for your address if you want to keep that a secret) and a brief summary of the violence/stalking you allege occurred. One may also provide other papers/evidence such as police reports, photographs and/or other judicial orders that help your case. This is called supporting documentation. Finally, one must include the Respondent’s address and/or as much information about him/her as you can. You can complete a Sheriff’s Information Sheet. Once that is completed, a Sheriff’s deputy will “serve” both a copy of the Petition and the Judge’s order to the Respondent.

After you have filed a Petition, a Judge will then review it. The Judge will make one of three decisions. The Judge can: (1) agree that you need protection and immediately grant the Temporary Injunction Order, (2) rule that your Petition does NOT meet the Florida requirements for an Injunction but will allow a hearing to determine a final ruling or (3) will rule that your Petiton does not meet the Injunction requirements and will NOT grant you a hearing. Option number three rarely happens and at the hearing for option number two, the assigned Judge will determine if an Injunction is warranted based on testimony from you, the Respondent and any eye-witnesses to the alleged actions that may be available. It is at this hearing that you will want a Violation of Injunction lawyer to give you the best chance of success.Pinellas injunction.bmp

Violation of an Injunction

After an order for an injunction has been ordered what happens if the Respondent continues to contact/harass the Petitioner? This may be the criminal charge of a Violation of Injunction. If the harassment continues, the police are usually called to make a report. Even if the police don’t feel that there are grounds to make an arrest, the Petitioner may still go to the Clerk’s office and fill out an Affidavit in Support of a Violation of Injunction if one wishes to pursue this. This can then be shared with the Judge or the state attorney’s office.

From the Pinellas County website, some reasons for a Violation of Injunction from a Respondent may include such things as:

1. Committing violence (such as a domestic battery) against the Petitoner.
2. Committing a criminal mischief against the Petitoner or destroying his/her property.
3. Being within 100 feet of the Petitioner’s motor vehicle, even if he/she is not in it.
4. Coming within 500 feet of the Petitioner’s home, work, school, or a named specific place frequently occupied by the Petitioner and/or their family.
5. Possessing a firearm or weapon if the Court had ordered them surrendered.
6. Telephoning, contacting or harassing the Petitioner personally or through a third-party.
7. Refusing to vacate a home/dwelling that the Respondent shares with the Petitioner.

In conclusion, both applying for or defending oneself against an injunction can be a complicated process. With an experienced Pinellas violence injunction lawyer by your side, you will be better prepared to deal with both the Court and with getting your life back on track.
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injunction.bmpGetting an injunction against repeat or domestic violence is one way that men or women can protect themselves against physical or emotional harm from known suspects. But what is an injunction and how can it protect you? What is a violation of injunction and how can you avoid being charged with this serious crime?

A recent blurb on the smoking gun legal website had to do with a domestic violence allegation. An Ohio woman was at a courthouse seeking a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend. When the judge left the room for a moment, the surveillance camera captures the man brutally attacking the woman, chasing her around the room and even battering his own mother when she tried to intervene! The man was eventually tased by deputies and charged with numerous offenses. Needless to say, the woman’s injunction against violence was granted.

What about injunctions in Florida? What needs to be shown in order for a judge to grant an injunction order? In this state an injunction for protection (or a “restraining order”), is a Civil Court Order that places restrictions on a person (known as a “Respondent”). This Order is placed because the Respondent is accused of violent actions (or sometimes threats) against the victim (known here as the “Petitioner”). This injunction starts when a Petition is filed with the Court by the Petitioner and a hearing is held. An injunction may have different orders that a Respondent must follow or he/she can be charged with a violation of an injunction. This restraining order may include provisions that the Respondent must move out of his/her house, that he must keep a certain distance from the Petitioner and/or no physical contact between the two parties.restrining order.jpg

The Four Types of Injunctions in Florida

1. Injunction Against Domestic Violence:

Defined under Florida Statute 741.28, “Violence or stalking that has occurred, or that the Petitioner has reasonable cause to believe they are in imminent danger of becoming the victim of, between individuals who are spouses, former spouses, or persons related by blood or marriage who are residing or have resided together as a family, or individuals who are residing together or have resided together as if family, or individuals who have a child in common”. For example, this type of Injunction can be between a man and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend (if they are or were living together), brother and sister or baby mama and baby daddy. Generally, the Petitioner only needs to show one instance of violence to get the restraining order granted.

2. Dating Violence:

This is generally stalking or violence that occured or that the Petitoner has reasonable belief that there is imminent danger of occurring between people who have (1) who have dated within the last six months, (2) are sexually involved and/or (3) have a continuous relationship that is more then just a business or social frienship.

3. Injunction Against Sexual Violence:

This type of restraining order is often the strictest and hardest to get granted. To qualify for this type, the Petitoner must show at least one of the following: He or she must have reported the incident to the police and cooperate fully with them or the Respondent was sentenced to incarceration and he/she is due out of prison within 90 days. Not just any crime is allowed to count however. The Respondent must have been incarcerated as a result of a sexual battery or a felony where a sex act was committed or attempted. If this strict criteria is not met in full, then the sexual violence injunction will not be granted by a Judge (though the Petitioner may qualify for one of the other injunction types).

4. Injunction against Repeat Violence:

Defined under Florida Statute 784.046, unlike the domestic violence injunction, there must be two (2) or more seperate acts of violence and/or stalking with at least one incident within the past six months. This may be the most common type of restraining order and is used for relationships of a non-domestic or non-romantic nature. Neighbor to neighbor, or classmate to classmate would be an example of this type of Injunction.953593-domestic-violence-callout.jpg

Conclusion

In part two of this entry, we will discuss further on how to file for restraining order and also what to do if you are charged with a violation of injunction. In the meanwhile, if you or a loved one needs further information about injunctions in Pinellas county please review the pinellas clerk website, which gives more details and forms that can be filled out immediately.
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kidnapped.bmpLike a scene out of a bad Hollywood “dark” comedy, a Pasco man was arrested for domestic assault, aggravated assault and tampering with a witness for kidnapping his wife and forcing her to go to dinner with him. per the baynews9 online article, the wife was fortunate, as this could have turned deadly…

Pasco sheriff’s detectives say a 49 year-old man invited his estranged wife over to his house, hoping to reconcile and put aside their differences. At his place, when his wife admitted that she didn’t love him anymore, her day quickly took a turn for the worse…

The man committed a battery by punching her in the head. He then picked up a tampering with a victim charge by taking her car keys and her cell phone, leaving her unable to either leave or call for help. For this lady, her nightmare was just beginning.

Detectives claim that the husband then forced his wife to sit and watch television with him at knifepoint. He then decided to try and win her back by forcing her to accompany him to the famed gourmet restaurant the Golden Corral. After dinner, he continued this romantic “date” by forcing her to accompany him to Walmart where he purchased new shoes for himself.

After the dinner and shopping excursion, the man headed back to his house, forcing his soon to be ex-wife to come back with him. Once home, he continued to force her to watch more television with him.953593-domestic-violence-callout.jpg

Around that time, the woman’s father came by the house. He was suspicious as the victim did not return any of her father’s calls the past several hours. The father managed to help his daughter get out of the house and into his car.

As they were driving away, the Defendant got a rifle, pointed it at the escaping vehicle and fired a shot into the air, thereby commiting an aggravated assault. This crime, normally a third degree felony with no mandatory prison, may have a three year minimum/mandatory prison sentence attached. This would occur only if the suspect pointed the firearm directly at the wife or her father.

As of this publication, the wife is safe and resting while the Defendant is still in the Pasco County jail…
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