Breaking Barriers, Building Futures Reach Out for a Free Consultation

Is Domestic Violence a Felony in Florida?

Orlando Defense Oct. 25, 2021

Charges Of Domestic Violence Can Be A Misdemeanor Or Felony In Florida

If you have domestic abuse felony charges in Florida, you may want to know what your options are.

You may also be wondering why you have felony domestic violence charges instead of misdemeanor charges.

An experienced and qualified Florida domestic violence defense attorney can explain felony domestic violence charges in a way that’s easy to understand.

Also, you can discuss the best defenses against felony domestic violence charges with your lawyer. 

You should know that no two cases are alike. Therefore, you should have an attorney by your side who has significant experience handling such cases. You need a true professional with trial-tested skills defending domestic violence cases to protect your rights.

What Is Felony Domestic Violence In Florida?

This is an important question for anyone who has domestic abuse charges. The answer might not be obvious.

You may be wondering, “Is domestic violence a felony in Florida?” In short, any domestic violence charge that would be a felony if committed against a stranger is considered a felony domestic violence charge. 

Additionally, depending on the circumstances, a charge that might normally be a misdemeanor can be elevated to a felony.  In any case, the first question you must answer is whether the crime charged even qualifies as domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Charges

Under Florida law, the relationship between the accused and the alleged victim dictates when prosecutors charge certain crimes as domestic violence offenses.

According to Section 741.28 of the Florida Statutes, the following offenses can become domestic violence charges if they happen between family or household members: 

  • Assault,

  • Aggravated assault,

  • Battery,

  • Aggravated battery,

  • Sexual assault,

  • Sexual battery,

  • Stalking,

  • False imprisonment, 

  • Kidnapping, and

  • Any other criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death.

Thus, many crimes can fall under the domestic violence statute if they happen between family or household members.

Who Are Family or Household Members?

Section 741.28 limits domestic violence offenses to crimes between family or household members. Accordingly, Florida law defines a family or household member as:

  • Spouses;

  • Former spouses;

  • People related by either blood or marriage;

  • Anyone who lived together as a family;

  • Individuals who resided as a family in the past; and

  • People who have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever been married.

However, with the exception of people who share a child in common, the law limits family or household members to people who currently live together or have lived together in a single-family unit in the past. 

Punishments For Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Or Felony Charges

Convictions for domestic violence carry mandatory punishments. For instance, Florida law requires the judge to place a convicted domestic abuser on probation for at least one year.

Also, the judge must order the convicted person to complete a batterer’s intervention program while on probation.

Additionally, under Florida Statutes section 741.283, anyone convicted of a domestic violence offense who intentionally inflicted bodily injury to the victim must serve a minimum jail sentence. The minimum jail terms are:

  • 10 days for the first conviction;

  • 15 days for a second conviction; and

  • 20 days for a third or subsequent conviction.

The minimum sentences increase if a child witnesses the crime. In that instance, the minimum sentences will be:

  • 15 days for the first conviction;

  • 20 days for a second conviction; and

  • 30 days for a third or subsequent conviction.

Please keep in mind that the judge can issue a sentence greater than the minimum term required by law. The judge can also order probation or supervised release in addition to the minimum sentences. 

Is domestic violence a felony in Florida? Answering this question must be done on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, misdemeanor domestic violence offenses like assault or battery can become felony offenses if you have a previous conviction for those charges. 

Some charges, like offenses against pregnant females and persons over the age of 65, are felony charges that are just more common among people with domestic relationships than among strangers.

However, domestic violence cases based on aggravated assault, aggravated battery, strangulation, aggravated stalking, false imprisonment, sexual battery, and kidnapping are felony-level charges no matter the relationship between the defendant and the alleged victim.

Defenses To Domestic Violence For Misdemeanor Or Felony Charges

The best defense for your domestic violence case depends on the specific facts of your case. One way to avoid a domestic violence enhancement is to argue that the relationship does not meet the definition of “family or household member” required by Florida law.

Additionally, arguing that the accuser lied, gave inconsistent statements, or exaggerated the event is a possible defense in some cases. Also, you might have a self-defense claim if the accuser physically threatened you.

Your skilled domestic violence defense attorney can negotiate a reduced sentence for you if the evidence against you is strong.

Aggressive Defense For Domestic Violence Charges

If you are facing misdemeanor or felony domestic violence charges in Florida, contact criminal defense attorney Michael Reese at Orlando Defense.

Call Orlando Defense right now to learn how he can give you the best chance to win your case.