Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

Last month, a Florida woman was arrested for Domestic Battery when she attached her husband… for passing gas in bed.  According to huffingtonpost.com, a Florida woman was so offended by her husband passing gas during the wee hours of the morning, that she elbowed him and then, literally “kicked him out” of bed.  The husband waited for things to calm down a bit before returning to bed.  A second gas-passing episode landed him in more hot water and resulted in more elbows and kicking.  The police were eventually called, and the wife, 55 year old Dawn Meikle was arrested.

Domestic ViolenceAlthough no injuries were reported in this incident, Florida criminal defense lawyers can tell you that domestic violence is taken very seriously.  Florida Statute 741.28 defines domestic violence as “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.”  In my experience as a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, the vast majority of domestic violence incidents are of the misdemeanor variety.  They involve minor or no injuries, and are normally between couples.  Domestic violence can occur between brothers and sisters, parents and children, or between any other household members living together as a family.

Obviously, the incidents are sometimes more serious.  A similar story to this one, also out of Florida, involved a woman throwing a kitchen knife at her boyfriend when he passed gas while standing in front of her.  I’ve conjured some pretty rancid gas in my day, but I’ve never been attached for it.  I have been yelled at and given the evil eye though.

Violation of injunction for protection against domestic violence is a crime under Florida statute 731.32(4)(a).  For some, it seems ridiculous that an act as harmless as sending flowers or a text message could result in a person being arrested.  However, this is the reality under Florida law, if there has been a valid injunction for protection against domestic violence put into place.  Ordinarily, these protective orders have language that orders one person not to contact or come near another person.

No ViolenceAs a Jacksonville lawyer, I’ve advocated on behalf of clients needing protection and on behalf of clients seeking to avoid an injunction against them.  In some cases, the injunction was probably needed, while in other cases- not so much.  If there is an injunction entered against you, whether you believe it is valid or not, you should follow the judge’s order not to contact the other person. Violation of an injunction for protection is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail or by probation up to one year. First degree misdemeanor criminal offenses, as here with injunction violations, can also be punished by fine.

The person who asks for or petitions the court for an injunction is called the petitioner. While the person who responds to the petition is called the respondent. Often, the respondent will be served with the initial temporary injunction and violate it immediately by calling or contacting the petitioner to find out what is going on. The temporary injunction is valid until a court has the ability to hear evidence and testimony from both sides. The testimony and evidence will be presented at a hearing. Based on the information provided, the judge will make a decision on whether the temporary injunction should be continued and made permanent or not.

baseball-bat-toy-990124-mWhen Jimmy Morris discovered that his daughter’s boyfriend had beaten her bloody in front of her children, Mr, Morris took matters into his own hands before police arrived.  Witnesses who were present at the scene reported that Morris took a baseball bat from his truck and hit his daughter’s abusive boyfriend with enough force to crack the bat.  Top Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers immediately begin to think of ways to defend against potential aggravated battery charges after hearing the facts in this case.  Morris’ best hope of a legal defense lies in the principle of self defense, which includes defense of others, being applied to Morris’ case.  So what is the likelihood that Morris could be saved by the principles of self defense?

Under Florida law, a battery is simply a harmful or offensive touching of another; this offense is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to one (1) year in jail.  Section 784.045 elevates a simple battery offense up to aggravated battery  when great harm is done to the victim, when the victim is permanently disfigured or disabled, or when the defendant uses a deadly weapon; aggravated battery is a second degree that can land a defendant in prison for up to fifteen (15) years.  Whether an object is a deadly weapon depends on the way that it is used.  Taking a bat to an individual’s head is absolutely enough to qualify the bat as a deadly weapon.

Applying a self defense theory to Morris’ defense may prove difficult in this situation.  Self defense does not mean what I’ve found that the average person thinks it means.  You hit me– I hit you back.  Or in Morris’ case… You hit my daughter– I crack your skull.  Self defense (or defense of others) applies when a certain amount of reasonable force is used to stop unlawful force from being used against you (or the person you’re defending).  Simplified, it boils down to what needs to be done to get the attacker off you or someone else while the attack is happening.  Hitting his daughter’s boyfriend after the boyfriend beat her, rather than while he was attacking her, creates a problem.   Continue reading

Domestic violence injunctions are serious business. Having an injunction issued against you limits your rights in certain areas. It limits the freedom to go certain places, it limits the freedom to possess firearms, and it creates criminal liability for violating the injunction. Florida Statute 741.30 governs the circuit court’s injunction powers in regard to Domestic Violence. The statute is designed to make seeking a protective order an easy endeavor.

As a Jacksonville criminal defense and family law attorney, I’ve defended people in proceedings to have injunctions put in place, and I’ve also represented people seeking the protection of a domestic violence injunction. A common occurrence is that people are [understandably] highly emotional immediately after whatever incident led her [or him] to seek a domestic violence injunction, and he or she is adamant about having the protection in place. However, time has a way of healing wounds. The anger slips away, but now there is a court order that says that Boyfriend can’t come near Girlfriend or contact her for the next year [or maybe even permanently]. These situations can happen in both directions, but the most common scenario in my experience is that the woman is seeking protection from the man.

The thing about the injunctions are that they don’t tell Girlfriend that she is to stay away from Boyfriend; in most instances, it’s a one-way street. Boyfriend must stay away from and can’t contact Girlfriend, even if she says that it’s okay, because the judge said, “DON’T DO IT!” So what happens? Well, Boyfriend [thinking the coast is clear] accepts an invitation from Girlfriend to come by and spend time with her. Things are great, until there is a disagreement about something, usually some trivial and incredibly unimportant thing. By the way, while things were great, Boyfriend and Girlfriend called and texted each other ALL the time. So, after there is a falling out, she has plenty of proof that he’s violated the injunction, which is a crime.
Continue reading

NFL star running back, Ray Rice, has been all over headlines lately after a video surfaced that shows Rice punching his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in the face… knocking her out cold. TMZ.com first posted the full video on September 8, 2014. The video shows Rice hit Palmer inside an elevator, then drags her out after he knocks her unconscious.

Rice was indicted for aggravated assault as a result of the domestic violence incident that took place. The incident occurred in Atlantic City; Palmer was also charged with assault by Atlantic County, but the charges against her were later dismissed. Other States label offenses differently in some circumstances. In Florida, Rice’s conducted would be labeled as battery, rather than assault. A battery occurs when a person is touched or struck against the person’s will. An assault occurs when a victim is put in fear of being touched or struck. The fear has to be reasonable and the person threatening some sort of harm must have an apparent ability to follow through with the threat.

A battery or assault offense can carry a range of degrees in Florida, and accordingly there is a range of possible penalties that apply. Additionally, domestic battery convictions result in the loss of firearm rights, even in cases where the offense is not a felony offense. Criminal defense lawyers most often look to self defense as a shield against battery or assault charges. In cases like Ray Rice’s case where the attack is on video and clearly shows that self defense is not an available defense, an experienced criminal defense attorney that can negotiate on behalf of the defendant is invaluable.
Continue reading

facebookpicforblogjpg.jpg
Through the evolution of technology, people no longer communicate the way that they used to. Where as most business and social interactions used to always take place face to face, in today’s tech world that is no longer the case. Now a substantial amount of social interaction and business interactions are through email or social media sites such as Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. Although this has been great in many respects, there have also been many downfalls for clients in the legal system. This has been extremely true for people who have had domestic violence injunctions or restraining orders issued against them.

In years past when an alleged victim took out an injunction for protection in Florida, the prohibited conduct was normally clear. Do not call the victim. Do not go within 500 feet of certain addresses. If you called the person, there was a record of the call, which would mean that you violated the terms of the injunction and would go to jail on a misdemeanor violation of injunction. This is no longer the case. With the inventions of social media sites, violating an Injunction or commonly known as a restraining order has become more complicated and potentially more dangerous for the person who has an injunction against them. As a result, there have been allegations that a person may violate an injunction and not even know it.

Just this week it was reported that a Google+ invite to a former girlfriend landed a man in jail. The police reported alleged that an ex girlfriend had just broken up with the man and obtained a restraining order against him. Shortly after receiving the injunction, the girlfriend discovered an invitation to join one of his Google+ circles. She called the police and they arrested the man for this one act. Upon first look many people would think this is no different than the woman who was arrested for violating an injunction for a “poke” on Facebook. In the Facebook case the evidentiary issue was whether it could be proved that it was actually the woman herself or her involvement that caused the poke or had another person had access to her computer.
Continue reading

Jacksonville Criminal AttorneyAre you a victim of repeat violence? Have you been the victim of violence from your domestic partner? Are you in fear of your or your children’s well being and safety? Are nonlegal methods of diffusing the situation just not working? If you answered “YES” to any of the previous questions you may be eligible for a Jacksonville Restraining Order. Additionally, as a Jacksonville Criminal Attorney, I can assist you in getting the protection you need and get the violence stopped before you or your children are seriously injured.

Jacksonville Restraining Orders are available anyone that is a victim of violence. Many Jacksonville residents believe that they must be the victim of some type of “physical violence” before they can petition the court for an injunction, but this is not true. Violence includes the crimes of assault and stalking which do not require physical contact whatsoever. Under Florida Statute Section 784.11, an assault occurs when a person intentionally and unlawfully threatens to do violence to the person of another coupled with the apparent ability carry the violence out. The victim of the assault must be in fear that the violence is imminent and will readily take place. Stalking can also result in a Jacksonville restraining order. Under Florida Statute Section 784.048, stalking occurs when a person “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks” and other person. The harassment must cause substantial emotional distress and fail to serve a legitimate purpose.

If you believe that you need a Jacksonville Restraining Order, contact a Jacksonville Criminal Attorney that will Petition the Court for an Injunction for Protection.

Record-SealAs a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer I receive numerous calls regarding a person’s past Florida Criminal History and their desire to have it sealed or expunged. However, I am not always able to assist due to the statutory confines of the Florida Statutes. Therefore, in order to clarify some immediate questions, the offenses listed below cannot be Sealed or Expunged.

Florida Statutes § 943.0585 and § 943.059 list several criteria that must be satisfied before allowing a Florida Criminal record to be Sealed or Expunged. One of these criteria is that the crime does not fall into a number of certain crime categories. These include:

  1. Aggravated Assault

GavelRecently a Duval County Teacher was arrested on charges of Child Abuse. The alleged incident took place on April 2, 2012. According to the report, Kristopher Hunter, the teacher, kicked the student in the back and also slammed the boy against the wall. The boy had to seek medical treatment for the injuries he sustained during the incident. The student’s name has not been released due to his age. However, it was revealed that the incident occurred between a teacher and a student of Arlington Middle School.

The act of child abuse is defined under Florida Statute § 827.03. Under that Statute child abuse is defined as “intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child; an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child.” As a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer I have received numerous calls regarding child abuse. What some may not know is child abuse is considered a 3rd degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or $5,000 in fines.

Applying the law to the facts above, it could be established Mr. Hunter was guilty of Child abuse. Mr. Hunter committed an intentional act, kicking and slamming the child, which could reasonably be expected to result in injury, the child was taken to the hospital for medical treatment. Therefore, if the State can prove their case “beyond a reasonable doubt” he could be convicted.

Atlantic Beach Domestic Violence AttorneyAtlantic Beach Domestic Violence Accusations are very serious charges. What do you do when you have been accused of Domestic Violence? How do you defend yourself when someone has accused you of domestic violence in Atlantic Beach, Florida?

If someone accuses you of domestic violence, you need to watch what you say. In many cases, when the Jacksonville Beach Sheriff’s Office responds to a domestic dispute, someone ends up going to jail. You do not want your words to be misconstrued and used against you.

  • If you have been arrested for Atlantic Beach Domestic Violence, you will go before a judge for first appearance court. Here, you will (a) receive a bond or (b) accept a plea deal. The majority of the time, accepting a plea deal is one of the worse things that you can do. Usually, the Atlantic Beach Domestic Battery Sentence will include extensive probation and you will not be able to get the charge sealed. It is best to discuss the case with an Atlantic Beach Domestic Violence Attorney before doing anything.
Contact Information