Domestic violence laws in Florida are designed to protect individuals who are victims of abuse within a domestic or family setting. These laws aim to prevent and address acts of violence, threats, or stalking perpetrated by one family or household member against another.
Definition of Domestic Violence
Florida law defines domestic violence as any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death against a family or household member. The term “family or household member” includes spouses, former spouses, individuals related by blood or marriage, individuals who reside or have resided together, and individuals who have a child in common, regardless of marital status.
Protective Injunctions (Restraining Orders)
Victims of domestic violence in Florida can seek protection through a restraining order, also known as a protective injunction. A protective injunction is a court order that prohibits the alleged abuser from having contact with the victim and may include provisions regarding residence, custody, visitation, and financial support. The process involves filing a petition with the court, and if granted, the injunction can provide immediate protection for the victim.
Arrest and Criminal Charges
In cases of domestic violence, Florida law allows law enforcement officers to make an arrest without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that an act of domestic violence has occurred. Prosecutors can pursue criminal charges against the alleged abuser, which can result in penalties such as fines, probation, mandatory counseling, and, in severe cases, imprisonment.
Enhanced Penalties for Repeat Offenders
Florida has enhanced penalties for individuals with prior convictions for domestic violence offenses. Repeat offenders may face increased fines, longer periods of probation, mandatory counseling, and potentially more severe criminal charges.
Mandatory Arrest Policies
Florida law mandates that law enforcement officers must make an arrest if they have probable cause to believe that an act of domestic violence has occurred and can enforce a no-contact order or protective injunction. This policy aims to ensure the safety of victims and hold perpetrators accountable.
Under federal law, individuals convicted of a domestic violence offense or subject to a protective injunction are prohibited from possessing firearms. Florida law mirrors this restriction and prohibits individuals subject to certain domestic violence injunctions from possessing firearms or ammunition.
Domestic Violence Shelters and Resources
Florida provides resources and support for domestic violence victims, including emergency shelters, counseling services, legal assistance, and hotlines. These resources can provide victims with the necessary support and guidance during and after incidents of domestic violence.