Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

As a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, when I hear about a shooting at a Northside Jacksonville Wal-Mart, I automatically assume that a Jacksonville armed robbery occurred and someone is facing the Florida 10-20-Life Statute if arrested, tried, and convicted of this Jacksonville crime. To my surprise, on Monday, something else occurred that involved a Jacksonville Wal-Mart shooting.

The local media reports on News4jax.com have reported that a domestic fight escalated to gunfire outside a Walmart on the Northside of Jacksonville on Monday. “Police have arrested both parties in the dispute. Jacksonville police were called to a shooting in the parking lot of the Lem Turner Road store about 5:45 a.m. Police said Walmart employee Troy Curr-Pennamon, 26, was walking a woman employee outside the store when her boyfriend, Jaquan Holloway, 20, approached and struck Curr-Pennamon. According to the police account of events, Curr-Pennamon went to his car and got out a handgun and shot Holloway one time. He was transported to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Curr-Pennamon is charged with aggravated battery and possession of a concealed firearm. Halloway was charged with simple battery.”

Since Holloway was charged with Simple Battery in Jacksonville, Florida, he will only be facing a first-degeree misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to one year in Duval County Jail. As a Jacksonville Battery Lawyer, I doubt that the Duval County State Attorney Office will pursue jail time for Holloway, considering that he received a harsher punishment, a gunshot wound. On the other hand, Pennamon will be facing a Florida minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years in a Florida State Prison. This case will require further investigation. I would not be surprised to learn Pennamon acted in self-defense. Did he believe that Holloway was going to seriously injured or kill him? Is there evidence to establish that he had a reasonable fear? Did Holloway have a gun or deadly weapon? Holloway’s girlfriend was present at the scene. What information does she have? If police did not find a weapon on or near Holloway, is there a possibility that his girlfriend or someone else hid the weapon to protect him.

As I drove down Mayport Road this morning on my way to the Duval County Court House to defend a Jacksonville Criminal Case, I noticed Atlantic Beach Florida police cars all over the place. Police officers were on almost every street aligning Mayport Road (A1A) in Atlantic Beach, Florida. As a Jacksonville Criminal Lawyer, I assumed the worse. I thought to myself: “they must be searching for a suspect; there must be a murder weapon in the area; they are looking for someone that was involved in a Jacksonville hit and run accident.” I wanted to stop and ask an officer, but I knew that the Duval County Courthouse was not going to wait for me, and my client would not be happy if his Jacksonville Criminal Defense attorney did not show up on time. Thus, I kept driving.

After surfing the web and reading an article published by First Coast News, I discovered that a deadly shooting occurred that morning in Atlantic Beach, Florida. According to First Coast News:

“Authorities arrived on the scene at 12:55 at 87 South Forrestal Circle where they found a white male who had been shot in the chest. The victim was taken to Shands Jacksonville, where he was pronounced dead. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s office identified the victim as 25-year-old James Lee Morrow. Police said a woman came out of the house and confessed to authorities that she shot the man. She was taken to the police station for questioning by JSO homicide investigators, along with two witnesses who also lived at the home. JSO identified her as Angela Morrow. Police said the victim and the woman are husband and wife. JSO said this afternoon that no charges had been filed and the investigation is ongoing.”

Jacksonville 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 Jacksonville, Florida?

  1. If someone accuses you of domestic violence, you need to watch what you say. In many cases, when the Jacksonville 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.   
  2. If you have been arrested for Jacksonville Domestic Battery, 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 Jacksonville 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 a lawyer (Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer) before doing anything.  
  3. If you are served with a Jacksonville Restraining Order (Jacksonville Injunction), go to the hearing and be well-prepared.  You should hire an attorney that understands the law surrounding Jacksonville Restraining Orders.  In order for an alleged domestic violence victim to obtain a restraining order, he or she must prove certain things.  Quite often, the evidence is insufficient, so you must properly attack the Jacksonville domestic violence allegation. That why it is important to have a Jacksonville Injunction Lawyer (Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer) that has experience not only in defending against the injunctions being issued, but that has also petitioned courts to have injunctions issued and that has defended against criminal violations of injunctions.  
  4. Do not speak to the alleged victim or make any contact with this person.  If you have been charged with Jacksonville Domestic Battery and have been released on a bond, you could violated a “No Contact Order” which is a condition of that bond.  If a temporary or permanent injunction for protection against domestic violence has been issued against you, you will violate it, even if the alleged victim tries to contact you.  

As a Florida attorney that represents criminal defendants seeking to expunge or seal their records, I have many clients that are surprised to learn that they have criminal records, even though the charges were dropped. The Florida Criminal Background check will show that a person was arrested and the charges were dropped. However, being arrested for a Florida crime can have a devastating affect on your future.

Imagine this. You were arrested in Jacksonville Beach, Florida for domestic battery upon your spouse. The police take you to the Duval County Jail, where you are booked and fingerprinted. Within 24 hours, you are released on bond. A few weeks later, the Duval County State Attorney’s Office realizes that you merely acted in self-defense, and the charges are dropped. A year later, you are applying for a job and the potential employer runs a Florida Criminal Background Check. After requesting your Florida Criminal Arrest History, the employer learns of your arrest for domestic battery in Jacksonville and decides not to hire you. This could have been prevented by expunging your Florida Criminal Background.

To expunge your Florida Criminal Arrest, contact a Florida Expunction Lawyer.

Quite often, the respondent in a Jacksonville Domestic Violence Injunction Hearing will also have a criminal case pending at the same time. Therefore, he or she will be reluctant to defend at the Jacksonville Injunction hearing due to a fear of jeopardizing the criminal case. However, there are remedies. The respondent may be able to obtain a continuance until after the criminal case is resolved. Otherwise, the respondent can testify and invoke the fifth amendment’s right against self incrimination. As long as the respondent does not testify on direct-examination about the matters pertaining to the criminal charge, he or she cannot be forced to testify on cross-examination about the alleged Jacksonville crime. Since “the right to be free from self-incrimination is a fundamental principle secured by the Fifth Amendment, waiver of the privilege will not be lightly inferred, and courts will generally indulge every reasonable presumption against finding a waiver.” Jenkins v. Wessel, 780 So. 2d 1006, 1007 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001) (citing State v. Spiegel, 710 So. 2d 13, 16 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998).

For more information, read The Fifth Amendment is Used to Prevent People From Being Forced to Testify about Criminal Matters in Florida Hearings.

The Fifth Amendment is applied to Florida, and all the other States, through the Fourteenth Amendment. It protects a person from self-incrimination and is meant to “assure that an individual is not compelled to produce evidence which later may be used against him as an accused in a criminal action.” Maness v. Meyers, 419 U.S. 449, 461 (1975). A witness in a civil proceeding has the right to refuse to respond to a question on the grounds that his answer may tend to incriminate him. See Kastigar v. United States, 406 U.S. 441, 444-45 (1972).

In an injunction hearing is a civil proceeding. Quite often, the civil proceeding is intertwined with a criminal case. For example, the respondent that is defending against the restraining order may also be the Jacksonville criminal defendant in a Jacksonville domestic battery case. Other example occurs when the respondent has not been charged with a crime, but he or she may be arrested in the future for conduct alleged in the Jacksonville petition for an injunction.

The Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals has found that a respondent did not waive his Fifth Amendment right when he testified at a Florida injunction hearing. Since this right “is a fundamental principle secured by the Fifth Amendment, waiver of the privilege will not be lightly inferred, and courts will generally indulge every reasonable presumption against finding a waiver.” Jenkins v. Wessel, 780 So. 2d 1006, 1008 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001) (citing State v. Spiegel, 710 So. 2d 13, 16 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998). The court held that the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination is waived “only as to matters relevant to issues raised by [the witness’s] testimony on direct examination.” Jenkins, 780 So. 2d 1006, 1008 (citing Johnson v. State, 509 So. 2d 373, 373 (Fla. 4th DCA 1987)).

When a Jacksonville Court is deciding whether or not to issue a Jacksonville Restraining Order by granting a petition for an injunction against domestic violence, the court will look to the factors listed in Florida Statute Section 741.30(1)(a). This Florida law states that the court should consider whether the Respondent:

  1. committed or threatened to commit domestic violence;
  2. previously threatened, harassed, stalked, or physically abused the petitioner;
  3. attempted to harm the petitioner or family members or individuals closely associated with the petitioner;
  4. threatened to conceal, kidnap, or harm the petitioner’s child or children.
  5. intentionally injured or killed a family pet;
  6. used, or has threatened to use, against the petitioner any weapons such as guns or knives;
  7. physically restrained the petitioner from leaving the home or calling law enforcement;
  8. has a criminal history involving violence or the threat of violence (if known);
  9. has another order of protection issued against him or her previously or from another jurisdiction (if known);
  10. destroyed personal property belonging to the petitioner; or
  11. engaged in any other behavior or conduct that leads the petitioner to have reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim of domestic violence. 
When working on a Jacksonville Domestic Violence Injunction case, I grow through all of these factors to determine whether or not the Petition has establish grounds for the injunction and the best way to defend against it (Read Jacksonville Restraining Order Denied in Alleged Domestic Violence Case).
In some cases, the Petitioner will hire me to obtain the injunction.  In that case, it is important to make sure that I have the necessary proof, so the Court may grant the Jacksonville Petition for an Injunction.  

Today, I argued in favor of the Respondent at a Jacksonville Injunction Hearing. An injunction is often referred to as a Jacksonville Restraining Order. In this case, the wife (petitioner) filed for a an injunction against her husband (respondent). Without a hearing, the judge issued a temporary restraining order. After the order was issued, I met with the husband. After reading the Jacksonville Petition for an Injunction and speaking with him, it was obvious that the wife did not have a reasonable fear that he would commit any violence to her. He had never committed an act of domestic violence in the past and never threatened to do so. Factors that the Court will Look at When Issuing a Jacksonville Domestic Violence Restraining Order are listed in Florida Statute Section 741.30(1)(a).

At the Jacksonville Injunction Hearing, I presented Florida cases, such as Oettemeier v. Oettmeier, 960 So. 2d 902 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2007) and Gill v. Gill, 50 So. 3d 772 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2010). I explained to the judge the reasons that the Jacksonville Restraining Order should not be issue pursuant to Florida Statute Section 741.30. After hearing the testimony of the petitioner, wife, and reading the cases, the judge ruled that the injunction should not be issued, and he terminated the temporary restraining order.

When being served with a Jacksonville Restraining Order, it is important to know your rights. Contact a Jacksonville Injunction Lawyer to discuss your case.

Jacksonville Domestic Violence Attorneys and Criminal Defense Lawyers are not the only lawyers that handle domestic battery charges on a regular basis. Family Law attorneys deal with this problem as well. Quite often, I have had a client falsely charged with Jacksonville Domestic Battery. This may be due to vengeance on the side of the alleged victim, or the alleged victim may be trying to get the upper hand in a divorce or custody dispute. However, he or she may not realize that filing a false police report is a serious charge and a first degree misdemeanor. Read Jacksonville False Police Report is a Crime by a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer, and False Domestic Violence Accusations by attorney, Kelly Ryan, for more information.

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In my practice as a Jacksonville Domestic Violence Attorney, I have seen many men that were the true “victims” in domestic violence cases. Quite often, a woman will become violent with the man. In some cases, the man must defend himself from her. However, if the police come to the door, they may listen to both stories, but they end up arresting the man or both of them for Jacksonville Domestic Battery. This is based upon the premise and stereotype that men are the abusers in a relationship, but this is not always the case.

A recent U.S. study surveyed 11,000 men and women. This study “found that according to both men’s and women’s accounts, 50 percent of the violence in their relationships was reciprocal (involving both parties). In those cases, the women were more likely to have been the first to strike. Moreover, when the violence was one-sided, both women and men said that women were the perpetrators about 70 percent of the time.” For an great example of such a situtation, read “No One Believed Me: When Men Are Victims of Domestic Violence” by Glenn Sacks, M.A. and Ned Holstein, M.D.

Jacksonville, Florida is no different from the rest of the country. Jacksonville residents are arrested for alleging abusing their girlfriends or wives that do not deserve to be. That is why it is important to address every Jacksonville domestic violence case with an open mind, and not succumb to stereotypes.

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