Domestic violence is a plague in this country. Every day, people are abused by a family member or partner. All too often they don’t know how to escape that situation or where to find help. One place where they might seek help is from the police. And while this can be liberating, unfortunately not all calls to the police are legitimate. Some people will call the police and report domestic violence even when they aren’t being threatened. When this happens, it causes a severe impact on the person reported to the police. They will usually be arrested, and the consequences of unjust domestic violence charges can last for life. The following empowering truths in domestic violence defense can help if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation.
According to Florida law, domestic violence is defined as any type of assault, stalking, imprisonment, or criminal offense that results in physical injury or death of a household member by another household member. That covers a lot of actions, from slapping to murder.
However, domestic violence doesn’t include all disputes that may occur between household members. That is important to know, because sometimes people will report domestic violence when the situation is nothing more than a verbal dispute. The following are some reasons that people inappropriately report domestic violence.
Note that the definition of domestic violence includes physical injury. However, many reported domestic violence incidents don’t involve any type of physical violence. Instead, these calls are made after a verbal dispute gets extremely loud or emotional. They may even involve threats of violence. While threats, in particular, are inappropriate (and usually illegal), they don’t amount to domestic violence. When someone reports domestic violence just to escape an argument, they are inappropriately using the police. Even if they are trying to safeguard themselves from potential violence, they shouldn’t be reporting a crime that didn’t happen.
Child custody statutes protect children from abuse by limiting the custody rights of parents who have been convicted of any type of domestic violence. Unfortunately, some parents will report domestic violence as a tactic to gain full custody of their children in an upcoming divorce. This isn’t legal, but it is common.
Since the police are accustomed to receiving false reports, you’d assume that they are familiar enough with false reports not to fall for them. Unfortunately, that isn’t how things usually work out. The following are some of the most common misconceptions of domestic violence cases. These statements are often believed, but they aren’t true.
Police officers aren’t social workers and have very little training along those lines. They have guns and handcuffs, and they have memorized the Miranda warning. When the police arrive at your house, they will typically arrest someone before they leave.
If an argument gets out of hand and someone calls the police, that person may regret their decision and want to walk it back. Unfortunately, once the police arrive, that is often no longer an option. The police are authorized to investigate and make an arrest, even if the complaining witness recants their story. While it is likely the district attorney will choose not to prosecute if the complainant refuses to cooperate, that doesn’t prevent you from getting arrested.
According to the Constitution, you are innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, that only applies to how the government treats you. Nothing is stopping your boss from firing you because you were arrested or a landlord from refusing to rent an apartment to you because you were arrested. Even if you aren’t prosecuted, an arrest can stain your reputation for years.
At Panella Law Firm, we understand that just because the police have arrested you for domestic violence, that doesn’t mean you are guilty. We even understand that a prosecutor may pursue charges without a cooperating witness or corroborating evidence. The ugly truth is that the prosecutor knows that most people who are charged with a crime can’t afford experienced domestic violence defense attorneys. This means they are likely to plead guilty even if they are innocent.
That isn’t a deal worth taking. Putting aside for the moment that you will face jail time, fines, community service, or probation, the stain on your reputation can’t be removed. Domestic violence can potentially be charged as a felony. If you have a felony conviction in Florida, you lose your right to vote and your right to own a firearm. Additionally, your status as a felon will be held against you by potential employers, landlords, financial institutions, and government officials. It is even worse if you are involved in divorce proceedings with your spouse. You will likely be denied custody of your children and will probably be forced to have supervision any time you contact them.
Taking this into account, our domestic violence defense lawyers, like Attorney Michael Panella, will fight for more than just an acquittal. We will fight to have the charges dropped. It is better if the prosecutor acknowledges that the charges never had merit in the first place. Getting the charges dropped usually requires providing as much evidence as possible that the other party misled the police. It helps if they have already recanted and refuse to testify against you. But we also know how to prove that the false report was vindictive. These empowering truths in domestic violence defense can set you free, but only if you have dedicated criminal defense attorneys fighting for your rights.
Just because the domestic violence charges against you aren’t true, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take them seriously. Contact our law firm today at 407-233-1822 to speak to a lawyer who will help you fight these unreasonable charges.