Domestic Violence Lawyer Jacksonville

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If someone is accused of violence against a loved one, Florida law may define it as domestic violence. According to Florida Statutes 741.28, domestic violence is a violent act or offense that causes injury or death that occurs between family or household members. Domestic violence accusations are serious, and anyone going through this painful experience should retain an attorney for assistance.

The domestic violence attorneys in Jacksonville at the Leon Law Firm are dedicated to offering compassionate and comprehensive legal representation to those affected by domestic violence. Our domestic violence lawyers understand the legal complexities involved in these challenging, emotionally charged cases, and we are committed to obtaining justice for our clients. Leon Law Firm attorneys offer legal services to domestic violence victims and those accused of domestic violence. Speak to one of our attorneys at the Leon Law Firm today at (904) 585-2281 if you need help with a domestic violence case.

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Why You Need An Experienced Jacksonville Domestic Violence Lawyer To Defend Your Rights Against Domestic Violence Accusations

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You may feel bewildered about the charges, especially if they are false and seem out of nowhere. Criminal defense lawyers offer skills and resources not available to laypeople.

These include: 

  • Knowledge of the criminal law system: The state and federal court systems often overwhelm laypeople. But we practically live there! We know criminal law and the court’s rules and procedures. Also, we worked with the prosecutors and judges before and know what to expect, which helps your case.
  • Negotiation skills: Without an experienced attorney, prosecutors may stack charges or request sentences disproportionate to your offense. As your attorney, we can negotiate lesser charges or reduce your sentence. If we can show a prosecutor why the accusations are false, they may drop them!
  • Support: Sometimes, the guidance includes emotional support. While attorneys are not mental health counselors, we deal with people facing embarrassment and depression over what’s happening to them. We can offer reality checks when necessary or be a listening ear.
  • Expert witnesses. Attorneys have a network of experts. They include investigators, counselors, and forensic scientists. These individuals can help form your defense and add credibility.

These resources often prove vital in complex cases or those with few witnesses outside the victim and perpetrator.

Florida Domestic Violence Laws

Domestic violence under Florida law is defined as a pattern of violence or threats between people in a current or past familial or intimate relationship. Domestic violence is usually understood to encompass physical violence, sexual violence, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, or financial abuse. Any of these forms of abuse are often part of a toxic relationship, but not all of them are necessarily crimes. Domestic violence can be any of these acts: 

  • Kicking
  • Hitting 
  • Slapping
  • Shoving or pushing
  • Beating
  • Hair pulling
  • Threatening
  • Intimidating
  • Stalking
  • Pursuing unwanted sexual acts

Florida law also states that a ‘family or household member’ can be wives and husbands; ex-wives and ex-husbands; those related by blood or marriage; those living together as a family; those who have lived together as a family in the past, and those who have a child in common. 

When Accused Of Jacksonville Domestic Violence

Not every violent act that involves people in a relationship is defined as domestic violence. Suppose you are dating, not living together, and don’t have children. In this case, violence between you is criminal but not called ‘domestic violence’ under the law. Why does this matter? 

As a Jacksonville domestic violence attorney can explain, when an act is defined as domestic violence, the state will take specific measures to protect the victim. There also may be enhanced penalties for someone convicted of domestic violence. 

For example, if you or your partner is charged with battery, they would face up to one year in jail, assuming it is a first offense. But if the battery is determined to be domestic violence, there are additional consequences other than a year in jail and fines: 

  • Competition of a six-month domestic violence program
  • Probation for 12 months
  • At least five days in jail 
  • Additional community service hours
  • Loss of certain civil liberties, such as owning a firearm
  • Being the subject of a no-contact or restraining order

Under Florida law, a person convicted of committing domestic violence battery or a related act cannot have their record sealed or expunged. It does not matter if adjudication is withheld. 

Legal Penalties Of Domestic Violence In Jacksonville, Florida

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Violating the injunction is a misdemeanor in the first degree. It is punishable by up to one year in jail or probation and a $1,000 fine.

If convicted of domestic violence, you face a minimum of one year of probation. The court may also order you to attend a batterers’ intervention program. That program becomes a condition of your probation.

You may still receive a prison term if you intentionally caused harm. These minimum terms include: 

  • First offense: 10 days
  • Second offense: 15 days
  • Third and subsequent offense: 20 days

While these seem like light sentences, keep in mind that domestic violence also involves additional charges of assault, aggravated assault, battery, felony battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, and others. These offenses range from second-degree misdemeanors to first-degree felonies.

That results in the following overall penalties going from most minor to most severe: 

  • Second-degree misdemeanor: Up to 60 days of jail and a fine of up to $500.
  • First-degree misdemeanor: Up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Third-degree felony: A prison sentence of up to 5 years and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Second-degree felony: A prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • First-degree felony: A prison sentence of up to 30 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Convictions may also include other restrictions, like required drug or alcohol treatment, restraining orders, domestic violence injunction, mental health counseling, community service, and relinquishing firearms.

Fortunately, your Jacksonville criminal defense attorney can offer strong defenses to a domestic violence charge: 

  • Factual disputes about the incident
  • Lack of injuries
  • Vindictive victim
  • Self-defense
  • Defense of others
  • Battery allegations not indicated by other evidence

Common Legal Defenses In Domestic Violence Cases

If convicted of domestic violence, the consequences expand beyond fines and jail sentences. It will affect any child custody and visitation proceedings, likely ending with you receiving supervised visitation only.

Some careers look poorly on domestic violence. You may face job loss or demotion. Finding new job opportunities with a violent offense on your record can be more difficult.

Active duty military or civilian law enforcement officers will see impacts on their job. Restricted duty, demotion, or termination can result.

So, getting all the facts and finding the best defense is essential. Here are the possibilities:

False Accusations

Unfortunately, it is common for false accusations to be made in some domestic violence cases. Also, a domestic violence accusation could occur in a divorce case, especially when child support and child custody are being disputed. 

Most domestic violence charges can fall if successful factual challenges exist. Generally, these challenges claim the incident didn’t occur as represented by the accuser. You’re asking the court to hear your side of the story.

Another real challenge is a big one, false allegations. It takes a couple of forms: the incident didn’t occur as reported, or it was completely fabricated.

If you get falsely accused of domestic battery or abuse, one approach is to show your accuser had a motive for the allegations. These may include divorce, child custody, or infidelity. It often has to do with revenge or control.

Also, many false accusations contain inconsistencies. For example, the accused may have no physical marks backing the claims, or they claim the incident happened while they were at work or running an errand. Receipts and witnesses can provide testimony of those whereabouts.


This defense works if there is another perpetrator. For example, a neighbor thought you were assaulting your partner when it was another relative or even a stranger.

Misidentification is an unfortunate reality in the criminal justice system. According to the Innocence Project, misidentification influenced 64% of wrongful convictions in Florida. The finding influenced policy in law enforcement agencies to reduce the impacts of inaccurate eyewitness testimony.

Sometimes, expert witnesses or proof that you weren’t home at the time of the assault can support this defense.

Lack Of Intent Or Accidental

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Crimes must require intent. But if the act was unintentional, your conviction can’t stand.

For example, your accuser may claim you pushed them down a flight of stairs. However, you may be able to prove it was an accident. For instance, you bumped them, or they slipped. If you tried to help them or call an ambulance, that could show you didn’t intend to hurt them.

Lack of intent also works with self-defense. Your intention wasn’t to hurt the other party but to protect yourself or others from their violent outburst. This theory is often difficult to prove unless the accuser has other factual inconsistencies in their claim, or you can come off as more credible with sufficient evidence.

If you were named in a temporary restraining order, you could have trouble getting visitation or child custody. You also may be mistreated in a variety of divorce issues. You can go to court within 15 days and tell your side of the story before a permanent injunction. 

Whatever the situation, someone accused of Florida domestic violence must retain an attorney. The chances of the charge being reduced dropped, or amended rise dramatically with an experienced domestic violence lawyer. It is unwise to accept a boilerplate plea bargain offer that the public defender may present to you; a skilled, private attorney can often do much better. 

For Victims Of Jacksonville Domestic Violence 

All domestic violence accusations must be taken seriously. In Florida, a domestic violence victim can petition the court to require the accused party to stay away from them. This typically involves having a domestic violence attorney file a restraining order. 

A restraining order is a legally binding document that requires the accused to stay a specific distance from the victim. Your attorney can petition the Jacksonville court for a restraining order. The restraining order can give you peace of mind that the law will help to keep them safe. 

In family court, the person seeking a restraining order needs to convince the judge that domestic violence happened or is likely to happen. Only then will the judge issue a permanent restraining order against the accused. However, a temporary restraining order can be granted absent a hearing based only on the victim’s sworn pleading. However, a temporary restraining order is only in effect for 15 days. 

If you need a restraining order, the Leon Law Firm can speak to you today and start the application process. Our experienced attorneys also can provide resources to help with child custody and support issues during this difficult time. 

Our lawyers feel strongly about our legal duty to safeguard the rights of families and children in Jacksonville and across Florida. We will work hard to maintain your rights when you or someone you love is a victim of domestic violence. 

Speak To Our Jacksonville Domestic Violence Lawyer Today 

If you are a domestic violence victim or have been accused of the crime, you may not know where to turn to for legal assistance. You can always count on the Jacksonville domestic violence lawyers at the Leon Law Firm to represent your rights. Our domestic violence clients know we are always on their side. Many of our domestic violence attorneys are highly rated on Avvo and listed on Super Lawyers Rising Stars. Please contact a Jacksonville domestic violence lawyer at the Leon Law Firm today for a confidential consultation.

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