Domestic Violence Lawyer in St. Petersburg
Domestic Battery and No-Contact Orders in Pinellas County
There are three closely connected aspects of a domestic violence complaint:
- The criminal charge of battery
- A judge's order that you have no contact with the victim
- Violations of that injunction (also a crime)
Proactive Representation for Charges of Domestic Violence
The Law Office of Timothy Hessinger takes a very aggressive approach to these cases. Our early intervention may spare you from being formally charged, jail, a life long conviction and the collateral consequences of a domestic violence conviction. It may allow an opportunity for reconciliation or prevent being cut off from your children. We also aim to avoid an escalating scenario of additional criminal charges. Contact our St. Petersburg law firm at (888) 863-7415 for a free consultation. We practice in courts of Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Manatee County and Pasco County.
What You Need to Know About Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic violence refers to acts against a spouse, former spouse or other member of the family or household. An
Assault is a threat or gesture putting a person in fear.
Battery is actual physical contact.
Aggravated battery is serious injury or use of a weapon.
Sexual battery is forcible sex or touching.
Domestic battery is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail. If there was bodily harm, the court must impose a minimum of 5 days in jail. It is a lifetime conviction (cannot be sealed or expunged). Other criminal penalties for misdemeanor domestic battery include one year of probation, fines up to $1,000 and a mandatory 26-week domestic violence Batterers' Intervention program. A second offense is a felony, with mandatory jail or prison time.
Under Florida law, prosecutors must treat domestic violence as a crime and not a "private family matter." When police are called to a domestic disturbance, someone will be taken to jail. If there is evidence a battery occurred, the State Attorney will usually pursue the case even if the victim does not wish to press charges.
No Contact Orders and Violations in Pinellas County
A person arrested for domestic violence is held in jail on "no bond" until he or she can appear before a judge and the court has searched the arrestee's criminal history. As a condition of release, the court usually issues a no contact order on the defendant barring the arrestee from directly or indirectly contacting the victim —by telephone, in person, mail, e-mail or third party. Violating the "No Contact" order can result in a new criminal charge and a trip back to jail.
Violation of Injunction is likewise a first degree misdemeanor, with similar penalties to domestic battery. You can be charged for simply contacting the person, or indirect acts that threaten or intimidate, such as stalking or destruction of property.
How We Help
Attorney Timothy Hessinger was a Pinellas County prosecutor for 15 years. His experience in the State Attorney's office and his philosophy of early and aggressive intervention are critical:
- Convincing the state not to file charges by telling the other side of the story
- Impacting the prosecutor's charging decision to limit the affect on employment, child custody, military service or professional licenses
- Advising clients on complying with the injunction
- Asking the court to remove the no-contact order
- Avoiding a battery conviction
Contact The Law Office of Timothy Hessinger at (888) 863-7415 or by e-mail to discuss your domestic violence or restraining order charges. We offer a
free case evaluation to help you better understand your charges and options.
Selected Domestic Violence Statutes
741.28 Domestic violence; definitions.-
"Domestic violence" means 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.
"Family or household member" means 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.
741.281 Court to order batterers' intervention program attendance.--If a person is found guilty of, has had adjudication withheld on, or has pled nolo contendere to a crime of domestic violence that person shall be ordered by the court to a minimum term of 1 year's probation and the court shall order that the defendant attend a batterers' intervention program as a condition of probation. The court must impose the condition of the batterers' intervention program for a defendant under this section, but the court, in its discretion, may determine not to impose the condition if it states on the record why a batterers' intervention program might be inappropriate. The court must impose the condition of the batterers' intervention program for a defendant placed on probation unless the court determines that the person does not qualify for the batterers' intervention program pursuant to s. 741.325.
741.325 Batterers' intervention program
1) That the primary purpose of the programs shall be victim safety and the safety of the children, if present.
(2) That the batterer shall be held accountable for acts of domestic violence.
(3) That the programs shall be at least 29 weeks in length and shall include 24 weekly sessions, plus appropriate intake, assessment, and orientation programming.
(4) That the program be a psychoeducational model that employs a program content based on tactics of power and control by one person over another.
(5) That the programs and those who are facilitators, supervisors, and trainees be certified to provide these programs through initial certification and that the programs and personnel be annually monitored to ensure that they are meeting specified standards.
(6) The intent that the programs be user-fee funded with fees from the batterers who attend the program as payment for programs is important to the batterer taking responsibility for the act of violence, and from those seeking certification.
(7) Establish standards for rejection and suspension for failure to meet certification standards.
(8) That these standards shall apply only to programs that address the perpetration of violence between intimate partners, spouses, ex-spouses, or those who share a child in common or who are cohabitants in intimate relationships for the purpose of exercising power and control by one over the other. It will endanger victims if courts and other referral agencies refer family and household members who are not perpetrators of the type of domestic violence encompassed by these standards. Accordingly, the court and others who make referrals should refer perpetrators only to programming that appropriately addresses the violence committed.
741.283 Minimum term of imprisonment for domestic violence.--If a person is adjudicated guilty of a crime of domestic violence, and the person has intentionally caused bodily harm to another person, the court shall order the person to serve a minimum of 5 days in the county jail as part of the sentence imposed, unless the court sentences the person to a nonsuspended period of incarceration in a state correctional facility. This section does not preclude the court from sentencing the person to probation, community control, or an additional period of incarceration.
741.2901 Domestic violence cases; prosecutors; legislative intent; investigation; duty of circuits; first appearance.--
(1) Each state attorney shall develop special units or assign prosecutors to specialize in the prosecution of domestic violence cases, but such specialization need not be an exclusive area of duty assignment. These prosecutors, specializing in domestic violence cases, and their support staff shall receive training in domestic violence issues.
(2) It is the intent of the Legislature that domestic violence be treated as a criminal act rather than a private matter. For that reason, criminal prosecution shall be the favored method of enforcing compliance with injunctions for protection against domestic violence as both length and severity of sentence for those found to have committed the crime of domestic violence can be greater, thus providing greater protection to victims and better accountability of perpetrators. This provision shall not preclude such enforcement by the court through the use of indirect criminal contempt. The state attorney in each circuit shall adopt a pro-prosecution policy for acts of domestic violence, and an intake policy and procedures coordinated with the clerk of court for violations of injunctions for protection against domestic violence. The filing, nonfiling, or diversion of criminal charges, and the prosecution of violations of injunctions for protection against domestic violence by the state attorney, shall be determined by these specialized prosecutors over the objection of the victim, if necessary.
(3) Prior to a defendant's first appearance in any charge of domestic violence, the State Attorney's Office shall perform a thorough investigation of the defendant's history, including, but not limited to: prior arrests for domestic violence, prior arrests for nondomestic charges, prior injunctions for protection against domestic and repeat violence filed listing the defendant as respondent and noting history of other victims, and prior walk-in domestic complaints filed against the defendant. This information shall be presented at first appearance, when setting bond, and when passing sentence, for consideration by the court. When a defendant is arrested for an act of domestic violence, the defendant shall be held in custody until brought before the court for admittance to bail in accordance with chapter 903. In determining bail, the court shall consider the safety of the victim, the victim's children, and any other person who may be in danger if the defendant is released.
784.03 Battery; felony battery.-
(1)(a) The offense of battery occurs when a person:
1. Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or
2. Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (2), a person who commits battery commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.
2) A person who has one prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery, or felony battery and who commits any second or subsequent battery commits a felony of the third degree. For purposes of this subsection, "conviction" means a determination of guilt that is the result of a plea or a trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld or a plea of nolo contendere is entered.
784.047 Penalties for violating protective injunction against violators.--A person who willfully violates an injunction for protection against repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence, issued pursuant to s. 784.046, or a foreign protection order accorded full faith and credit pursuant to s. 741.315 by:
(1) Refusing to vacate the dwelling that the parties share;
(2) Going to the petitioner's residence, school, place of employment, or a specified place frequented regularly by the petitioner and any named family or household member;
(3) Committing an act of repeat violence, sexual violence, or dating violence against the petitioner;
(4) Committing any other violation of the injunction through an intentional unlawful threat, word, or act to do violence to the petitioner; or
(5) Telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the petitioner directly or indirectly, unless the injunction specifically allows indirect contact through a third party;
commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
784.041 Felony battery; domestic battery by strangulation.--
(1) A person commits felony battery if he or she:
(a) Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; and
(b) Causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.
(2)(a) A person commits domestic battery by strangulation if the person knowingly and intentionally, against the will of another, impedes the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a family or household member or of a person with whom he or she is in a dating relationship, so as to create a risk of or cause great bodily harm by applying pressure on the throat or neck of the other person or by blocking the nose or mouth of the other person. This paragraph does not apply to any act of medical diagnosis, treatment, or prescription which is authorized under the laws of this state.
(b) As used in this subsection, the term:
1. "Family or household member" has the same meaning as in s. 741.28.
2. "Dating relationship" means a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.
(3) A person who commits felony battery or domestic battery by strangulation commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.