First Offense for Domestic Violence Battery

The most common criminal charge for “domestic violence” is a misdemeanor offense of battery. Many charges for domestic violence battery involve a person will no prior criminal record. In other words, the arrest is for a first-time offense.

Even with no prior record, the first offense for domestic violence battery is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor.

Although there is no minimum mandatory sentence, the statutory maximum penalty is 12 months in jail and a $500 fine, usually with a requirement that the defendant complete an intensive and time consuming 26 week course called “batterers intervention.”

To resolve these cases, the prosecutor will typically offer a plea bargain deal that requires no jail time but comes with a lifetime of consequences. If you have no prior record, the prosecutor might offer entry into the domestic violence pre-trial intervention program (DVPTI).

For many of our clients, entering a plea or a diversion program like DVPI is simply not an option. Instead, our clients understand that the best possible result is getting the charges completely dropped by the prosecutor or dismissed by the judge so that any record of the arrest can be expunged as quickly as possible.

Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you aggressively fight a false or exaggerated accusation at every stage of the case.

Attorney for a 1st Domestic Violence Battery in Tampa, FL

After an arrest for a first (1st) offense of domestic violence, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL. We can attend the first appearance hearing the next day after your arrest to ask the court to grant an ROR or signature bond so that you can avoid the need to post the standard $500 bond.

The court automatically sets a “no contact” provision. In many cases, the alleged victim wants to have contact with the person accused of the crime because they need to communicate about the children or finances.

When appropriate, we can ask the court to modify the standard “no contact” provision so that you can still have some contact with the complaining witness or alleged victim in the case. Until you understand the requirements, have NO contact with the alleged victim for any reason until a plan for limited contact is approved by the court.

These requirements go away if the charges are dropped or resolved in court. Until then, we can help you decide the best course of action to stay in strict compliance with any court order.

In many of these cases, we help our client seek out counseling on a voluntary basis which helps increase the chances that the prosecutor will be willing to drop the charges. It also helps to ensure that no other problems occur after the charges are dropped and that everyone in the family is satisfied with the outcome.

Our main office is located in Tampa in Hillsborough County, FL. From our second office in New Port Richey, we represent clients charged with a first domestic violence charge in Pasco County, FL.

Call (813) 250-0500 today.

What is the Average Bond for Domestic Violence?

In Hillsborough County, FL, the average bond for domestic violence battery $500 when the offense is entered under charge code BATT1102. In most of these cases, if the court finds probable cause that a battery domestic violence misdemeanor was committed, then the court will impose that standard bond amount.

The bond can be reduced to ROR (release on own recognizance or signature bond) which often occurs for the first offense of domestic violence when the person arrested has no prior record. In other cases, the court can raise the standard bond amount to more than $500, especially if the person accused of domestic violence has a long criminal record.

The court will also impose a “no contact” provision. If the alleged victim requests contact, then the court might impose a provision for “no violent contact.”

In many of these cases, the defendant will hire a criminal defense attorney to file a motion to modify the bond condition from “no contact” to “no violent contact,” especially for a married couple with minor children who need to communicate with each other while the case is pending.

Problems with a Plea Bargain for Domestic Violence in Hillsborough County, FL

Most people don’t want an average result. It is helpful, however, to understand that it is fairly unusual for first-time domestic violence offenders in Hillsborough County, FL, to go to jail for a misdemeanor offense after entering a plea of guilty or no contest.

Instead, the State Attorney’s Office for the Thirteenth Judicial Circut typically offers the first-time offenders an offer for 12 months probation to enroll in a twenty-six (26) week batterer’s counseling program.

The problem with taking an offer to be on probation for domestic violence is that if you can’t complete the 26-week course, can’t pay the money, or get in trouble for anything else while you are on probation, then the court can issue a “no bond” warrant for your arrest.

Also, if you enter a plea, you will NEVER be able to seal or expunge the record. Additionally, your employer might find out that you are on probation which can cause problems and put even more stress on the family.

The bigger problem with entering a plea to domestic violence charges has nothing to do with the conditions the judge will impose. The collateral consequences of a domestic violence plea will last long after the probation has been completed.

For instance, if you enter a plea to domestic violence you will NEVER be able to legally possess a firearm or ammunition under state or federal law.

Another problem is that any plea to a domestic violence charge will show up on even the most basic background check when you apply for a job, higher education opportunities, or even housing.

How to Drop Domestic Violence Charges in Florida

Don’t ever speak with the alleged victim about “dropping” the domestic violence charge because the authorities might construe that conversation to be “witness tampering” which is a serious felony offense.

Instead, let your criminal defense attorney do their job by asking the alleged victim what happened and how they want the case resolved. Because so many alleged victims want the charges to be dropped, the State Attorney’s Office in Hillsborough County, FL, has developed procedures to take the alleged victim’s wishes into account.

First, the alleged victim can go to the State Attorney’s Office to fill out a “drop affidavit” form. The form was developed by the State Attorney’s Office to explain that domestic violence tends to increase in frequency and severity over time. The form also requires a statement that the alleged victim is acting freely and voluntarily and not because of a threat.

The criminal defense attorney can also ask the alleged victim to write a statement explaining the reason why the charges should be dropped. That letter to the criminal defense attorney can then be disclosed to the prosecutor and becomes powerful evidence that might compel the prosecutor to drop the charges before trial.

If you cannot afford a private attorney, then ask the court to appoint a public defender. But under no circumstances should you talk with the alleged victim about dropping charges or their testimony.

The Statute of Limitations for Domestic Violence in Florida

The statute of limitations for a domestic violence charge depends on the way the crime is classified. A second-degree misdemeanor of domestic violence assault has a one-year statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for the first-degree misdemeanor for domestic violence battery is two years.

If the domestic violence offense is charged with a third-degree felony for aggravated battery or aggravated assault, then the statute of limitations is three years. A statute of limitation in Florida for misdemeanor acts of domestic violence such as the first offense of domestic violence battery is three years.

The purpose of the “statute of limitations” is to prohibit prosecutors from prosecuting someone with a crime that was committed more than a specified number of years ago.

The primary purpose of statutes of limitation is to make sure convictions occur only upon evidence that has not deteriorated with time. The statute of limitations recognizes that over time, memories begin to fade and evidence can be lost.

There is no easy way to win a domestic violence charge by getting the case dropped. Getting the best result in your case often requires the services of a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney in Tampa, FL.

Comparing Penalties for a Second Domestic Violence Conviction

Keep in mind that an accusation of battery with a prior conviction can be charged with a felony.

Under Florida Statute 784.03(2), a person who has one prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery, or felony battery, who commits any second or subsequent battery commits a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. In other words, the prior “conviction” enhances the second battery charge from a misdemeanor to a felony.

For purposes of a felony conviction for a second or subsequent battery, the term “conviction” applies even if the court withheld adjudication or a nolo contendere plea was entered.

Additional Resources

1st Domestic Violence Battery Offense in Hillsborough County – Visit the website of the clerk of court in Hillsborough County, FL, to learn more about the filing of a petition for a domestic violence restraining order (injunction for protection) in the courthouses in Tampa or Plant City, FL. Find information on how to fight injunctions for protection against domestic violence at the return hearing scheduled in front of the judge. You can also use the clerk’s office website to find out more about how to look up and search for a record related to a domestic violence protection injunction.

Domestic Violence Options in the City of Tampa – Learn more about domestic violence shelters and options for the victims of domestic violence. Find information about the consequences of false accusations of domestic violence and why the person accused of domestic violence might be the actual victim in an attack. The website also lists information about how to make a safety plan and local support groups in the Tampa Bay area.

Finding a DV Attorney for a First Offense in Hillsborough County, FL

Although there is no minimum mandatory sentence for domestic violence charges in Florida, if you want to enter a plea for a first offense without consulting with an attorney, the prosecutor might offer you a plea deal that requires you to be on probation for 12 months to complete a 26-week batterer’s intervention counseling program.

Don’t consider entering a plea until after you have spoken with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

For a first-time domestic violence charge, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tampa, FL. We fight a variety of domestic violence charges including battery, aggravated battery, assault, or aggravated assault. We also represent clients served with a petition for a domestic violence injunction for protection.

The consequences of domestic violence charges are serious. Don’t just enter a plea. If the allegations against you are false or exaggerated, let us put our experience to work for you.

Call (813) 250-0500 today.

This article was last updated on Friday, December 11, 2020.