St. Petersburg Domestic Battery Attorney | Whittel & Melton
Our St. Petersburg domestic battery attorneys help victims get protection and remedy from their abusers.
Domestic violence is an unfortunate reality of some family and household dynamics that can occur suddenly and without much warning. Domestic violence is a crime in Florida, which means victims have legal procedures at their disposal to protect themselves and their rights. Our St. Petersburg domestic battery attorneys help those dealing with domestic violence to navigate local law enforcement and court procedures, allowing them to safely move forward in life.When Does Battery Become Domestic Violence?
Battery is a crime in Florida that a person commits when they intentionally contact another person against their will or cause another person bodily harm. Domestic battery is when a person engages in physical contact against a person who is a member of their family or household.
Florida includes the following family and household relationships for purposes of charges that constitute domestic battery:
- Former spouses
- Persons related by blood or marriage
- Persons who currently live together (or previously lived together) in a familial sense (i.e., cohabitation)
- Co-parents (regardless of whether they were ever married)
With the exception of co-parents, Florida law further states that the family or household members must currently live in the same single dwelling unit or have done so in the past.Is Domestic Battery a Felony in St. Petersburg, FL?
Domestic battery can be a felony in St. Petersburg and other parts of Florida under certain circumstances such as for repeat offenses or serious injury. However, a first domestic battery offense is usually a misdemeanor crime that carries a minimum sentence of 10 days in county jail.
Domestic battery immediately becomes a felony offense in the third degree when the person’s intentional acts cause any of the following:
- Great bodily harm
- Permanent disability
- Permanent disfigurement
The potential punishment for a felony in the third degree is a 5-year term of imprisonment in addition to a $5,000 fine.
Domestic Battery by Strangulation Is Also a Third-Degree Felony in Florida
Florida also recognizes a separate type of domestic battery charge known as domestic battery by strangulation. As the name implies, it refers to a crime where a person’s physical act against another impedes normal breathing or blood circulation that causes great bodily harm or creates such a risk.
The acts that qualify for domestic battery by strangulation often include applying pressure to the throat or neck area. Alternatively, a person may commit the crime by blocking a person’s nose or mouth.
Again, Florida limits charges for domestic battery by strangulation to situations where a family or household member commits the act against another family or household member. However, the law also extends this crime to dating relationships, which refers to continuing and significant relationships that are romantic or intimate.
What Is the Difference Between Domestic Battery and Aggravated Domestic Battery?
Aggravated domestic battery and standard domestic battery are distinguished in a few different ways. One is when the perpetrator intentionally or knowingly causes serious or permanent injury. Additionally, a charge can escalate to aggravated domestic battery when they use a deadly weapon or if the victim was pregnant and the perpetrator knew or should have known.
Aggravated domestic battery is a second-degree felony that carries a potential punishment of up to 15 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.How Serious Is Domestic Battery in St. Petersburg, Florida?
Domestic battery and other forms of domestic violence are an increasingly serious problem in St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay, and the surrounding Pinellas County area. A news report from October 2021 showed that the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office received over 4,300 domestic violence-related calls. At the time of the report, 11 domestic violence-related homicides had occurred within the county.
In cases of domestic violence (including domestic battery), a defendant will not have bond set until their first court appearance. During the first court appearance, the judge will determine if bond is available and for how much after hearing arguments from the prosecution and defense. The availability and cost of bond will generally depend on the seriousness of the domestic battery offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and other factors (e.g., flight risks, etc.).How a St. Petersburg Domestic Battery Attorney Can Help Victims
Our St. Petersburg domestic battery lawyers can help victims with the aftermath of domestic violence in several different ways. We offer our advice and representation to provide clients with the information they need to make informed decisions for their safety and future well-being.
Criminal Prosecution for Domestic Battery and Assault
The decision to prosecute will fall to the district attorney’s office with jurisdiction over the case. However, our firm can assist victims during the criminal process in other ways. We can provide initial guidance on what to expect from the process in addition to assistance with contacting local law enforcement and filing a formal report.
As mentioned above, Florida classifies a domestic battery offense as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on its severity and other circumstances. The resulting punishment can vary widely from several days in jail to years in prison along with the payment of fines.
A St. Petersburg court may also require the defendant to pay for and participate in a batterer’s intervention program. The purpose of these programs is the rehabilitation of offenders through several months of cognitive behavioral therapy and psychoeducational content.
Protective Orders and Other Civil Remedies for Domestic Battery
Victims of domestic battery in St. Petersburg may have other civil remedies and protections available to them for their safety. Primarily, victims can petition the court for a temporary injunction against the offender that prohibits and deters further acts of domestic violence through additional penalty. An injunction for protection against domestic violence may also provide other benefits to victims such as awarding them exclusive use of their residence on a temporary basis.
Other remedies for victims of domestic battery can include civil actions against the perpetrator. Civil actions for domestic violence can provide a plaintiff with compensation owed because of the abuse. This may include economic damages that cover medical expenses or lost wages and profits. An award from a civil action for domestic battery can also include non-economic damages (i.e., for a victim’s pain and suffering).Steps to Take After Domestic Battery Happens in St. Petersburg
The immediate shock of domestic battery or other violent acts from a family or household member can be emotional and difficult to process. While everyone’s specific process will look different because of the circumstances, here are some general steps:
- Find a safe place to remove yourself, children, and other loved ones from the immediate danger of the offender
- Obtain medical attention
- Contact local St. Petersburg or Pinellas County law enforcement
- Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys to better understand your rights and to discuss legal options moving forward
Several resource centers also exist in the St. Petersburg area that can help victims of domestic battery with necessities (e.g., food, water, and shelter) and other protections.Consult Our St. Petersburg Domestic Battery Attorneys Today
Whittel & Melton is a personal injury firm bringing years of experience and knowledge to matters of domestic battery and other forms of abuse to St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, and other parts of Florida. If you have any questions about domestic battery for yourself or a loved one, please consider a free consultation with one of our attorneys nearest you.
Contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our St. Petersburg Domestic Battery Attorneys.