Domestic Violence in Florida
March 13, 2015
An eighteen year old Jupiter man, Daniel Leneve, was arrested last week after a naked, drug-fueled rampage through a house, shouting that everyone in the house was going to die. Leneve and his seventeen year old girlfriend of six months had both taken LSD. According to a witness, he tossed his girlfriend around in the backyard, then went inside, took his clothes off, and started smashing things. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the house, and when they tried to handcuff him, he struggled. During the struggle, Leneve’s girlfriend stuck her finger in his face, and he bit it. Leneve was charged with domestic battery, resisting an officer with violence, criminal mischief of $200 or less, and child abuse without great bodily harm. He was released from the Palm Beach County jail on bond.
Under Florida law, the crime of domestic violence is committed when a person injures, kills, or commits a violent offense against a family or household member. Violent offenses include:
- Assault or aggravated assault,
- Battery or aggravated battery,
- Sexual assault or sexual battery,
- Stalking or aggravated stalking,
- Kidnapping, and
- False imprisonment.
For the purposes of the statute, a family or household member is someone with whom the accused has had a familial relationship, not just immediate family members like spouses or children. “Family or household member” includes:
- Spouses and former spouses,
- People related by blood or marriage,
- Those who are currently living together or who have lived together in the past as if in a family, and
- Persons who have a child together, regardless of whether they have ever lived together or been married.
The severity of the penalty for domestic violence depends upon the facts of the case and on which crime, such as assault, battery, or stalking, with which the accused has been convicted. However, Florida law also provides for sentence enhancements for the crime of domestic violence, in addition to any penalties for the underlying crimes:
- A minimum of five days in the county jail, unless the court imposes a nonsuspended sentence of incarceration in a state correctional facility,
- A minimum of one year probation,
- A mandatory batterers’ intervention program, usually lasting six months, as a condition of the probation,
- Ineligibility to have the offense sealed or expunged from the criminal record, even if adjudication was withheld,
- Forfeiture of the right to use, own, or possess a firearm, and
- The mandatory suspension of the perpetrator’s concealed weapons permit.
A domestic violence conviction can also have an impact on divorce and custody cases. If a divorcing or separating couple has minor children, a parent who has been convicted of domestic violence is much less likely to prevail in any custody battles.
Victims of domestic violence may also ask the court for an injunction, or restraining order, for protection against the accused. An injunction can forbid the accused from committing any domestic violence, give the victim sole access to a shared residence, limit the accused’s time with his or her minor children, require temporary child or spousal support payments, require the accused to participate in a batterers’ intervention program, or require any other terms the court deems necessary.
If you have been charged with domestic violence, the advice of an attorney is important to help you avoid or minimize the devastating costs that such a charge can have. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.