Eric J. Dirga, P.A.

A Florida Trial Attorney

Criminal Record Expungements/Sealings, Traffic Defense.

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The Florida Domestic Violence Law

Domestic Violence Statutes

Eric J. Dirga, P.A., Orlando, FL - Call (407) 841-5555

Domestic violence statutes are found in Chapter 741, Florida Statutes, titled Domestic Relations. Below are most of the pertinent statutes.

741.28 Domestic violence; definitions.--As used in ss. 741.28-741.31: My Notes
(1) "Department" means the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
(2) "Domestic violence" means 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 of one family or household member by another family or household member. Read this section in conjunction with the definition of household member.
(3) "Family or household member" means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit. By this definition a brother and sister, age 7 and 9 respectively, can get in a fight and be charged with domestic violence.
(4) "Law enforcement officer" means any person who is elected, appointed, or employed by any municipality or the state or any political subdivision thereof who meets the minimum qualifications established in s. 943.13 and is certified as a law enforcement officer under s. 943.1395.
741.281 Court to order batterers' intervention program attendance.--If a person is found guilty of, has had adjudication withheld on, or has pled nolo contendere to a crime of domestic violence, as defined in s. 741.28, that person shall be ordered by the court to a minimum term of 1 year's probation and the court shall order that the defendant attend a batterers' intervention program as a condition of probation. The court must impose the condition of the batterers' intervention program for a defendant under this section, but the court, in its discretion, may determine not to impose the condition if it states on the record why a batterers' intervention program might be inappropriate. The court must impose the condition of the batterers' intervention program for a defendant placed on probation unless the court determines that the person does not qualify for the batterers' intervention program pursuant to s. 741.325. Effective July 1, 2002, the batterers' intervention program must be a certified program under s. 741.32. The imposition of probation under this section shall not preclude the court from imposing any sentence of imprisonment authorized by s. 775.082. All people found guilty of domestic violence must successfully complete a 26 week batterers intervention program.
741.283 Minimum term of imprisonment for domestic violence.--If a person is adjudicated guilty of a crime of domestic violence, as defined in s. 741.28, and the person has intentionally caused bodily harm to another person, the court shall order the person to serve a minimum of 5 days in the county jail as part of the sentence imposed, unless the court sentences the person to a non-suspended period of incarceration in a state correctional facility. This section does not preclude the court from sentencing the person to probation, community control, or an additional period of incarceration. The requirement of 5 days in jail began in 2001.
741.29 Domestic violence; investigation of incidents; notice to victims of legal rights and remedies; reporting.-- Victims Rights
(1) Any law enforcement officer who investigates an alleged incident of domestic violence shall assist the victim to obtain medical treatment if such is required as a result of the alleged incident to which the officer responds. Any law enforcement officer who investigates an alleged incident of domestic violence shall advise the victim of such violence that there is a domestic violence center from which the victim may receive services. The law enforcement officer shall give the victim immediate notice of the legal rights and remedies available on a standard form developed and distributed by the department. As necessary, the department shall revise the Legal Rights and Remedies Notice to Victims to include a general summary of s. 741.30 using simple English as well as Spanish, and shall distribute the notice as a model form to be used by all law enforcement agencies throughout the state. The notice shall include: This requires law enforcement to determine a victim to every call that suggests violence in the home - even if no one wants anyone arrested.
(a) The resource listing, including telephone number, for the area domestic violence center designated by the Department of Children and Family Services; and
(b) A copy of the following statement: "IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, you may ask the state attorney to file a criminal complaint. You also have the right to go to court and file a petition requesting an injunction for protection from domestic violence which may include, but need not be limited to, provisions which restrain the abuser from further acts of abuse; direct the abuser to leave your household; prevent the abuser from entering your residence, school, business, or place of employment; award you custody of your minor child or children; and direct the abuser to pay support to you and the minor children if the abuser has a legal obligation to do so." This is political cover. Nothing happens to a LEO if this is not done but it reads well.
(2) When a law enforcement officer investigates an allegation that an incident of domestic violence has occurred, the officer shall handle the incident pursuant to the arrest policy provided in s. 901.15(7), and as developed in accordance with subsections (3), (4), and (5). Whether or not an arrest is made, the officer shall make a written police report that is complete and clearly indicates the alleged offense was an incident of domestic violence. Such report shall be given to the officer's supervisor and filed with the law enforcement agency in a manner that will permit data on domestic violence cases to be compiled. Such report must include: S. 901.15(7) has been provided below.
901.15 When arrest by officer without warrant is lawful.--A law enforcement officer may arrest a person without a warrant when:
(7) There is probable cause to believe that the person has committed an act of domestic violence, as defined in s. 741.28, or dating violence, as provided in s. 784.046. The decision to arrest shall not require consent of the victim or consideration of the relationship of the parties. It is the public policy of this state to strongly discourage arrest and charges of both parties for domestic violence or dating violence on each other and to encourage training of law enforcement and prosecutors in these areas. A law enforcement officer who acts in good faith and exercises due care in making an arrest under this subsection, under s. 741.31(4) or s. 784.047, or pursuant to a foreign order of protection accorded full faith and credit pursuant to s. 741.315, is immune from civil liability that otherwise might result by reason of his or her action. The immunity clause here has lead most police departments to conclude that an arrest must be made to ensure immunity from a negligence lawsuit.
(a) A description of physical injuries observed, if any.
(b) If a law enforcement officer decides not to make an arrest or decides to arrest two or more parties, the officer shall include in the report the grounds for not arresting anyone or for arresting two or more parties.
(c) A statement which indicates that a copy of the legal rights and remedies notice was given to the victim.
Whenever possible, the law enforcement officer shall obtain a written statement from the victim and witnesses concerning the alleged domestic violence. The officer shall submit the report to the supervisor or other person to whom the employer's rules or policies require reports of similar allegations of criminal activity to be made. The law enforcement agency shall, without charge, send a copy of the initial police report, as well as any subsequent, supplemental, or related report, which excludes victim/witness statements or other materials that are part of an active criminal investigation and are exempt from disclosure under chapter 119, to the nearest locally certified domestic violence center within 24 hours after the agency's receipt of the report. The report furnished to the domestic violence center must include a narrative description of the domestic violence incident. Certified Domestic Violence Centers get copies of all reports on domestic violence regardless of outcome of the case. Why?
(3) Whenever a law enforcement officer determines upon probable cause that an act of domestic violence has been committed within the jurisdiction the officer may arrest the person or persons suspected of its commission and charge such person or persons with the appropriate crime. The decision to arrest and charge shall not require consent of the victim or consideration of the relationship of the parties. Regardless of intention of alleged victim.
(4)(a) When complaints are received from two or more parties, the officers shall evaluate each complaint separately to determine whether there is probable cause for arrest.
(b) If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that two or more persons have committed a misdemeanor or felony, or if two or more persons make complaints to the officer, the officer shall try to determine who was the primary aggressor. Arrest is the preferred response only with respect to the primary aggressor and not the preferred response with respect to a person who acts in a reasonable manner to protect or defend oneself or another family or household member from domestic violence. Primary aggressor suggests there is a secondary aggressor. Self defense is alluded to.
(5) No law enforcement officer shall be held liable, in any civil action, for an arrest based on probable cause, enforcement in good faith of a court order, or service of process in good faith under this chapter arising from an alleged incident of domestic violence brought by any party to the incident.
(6) A person who willfully violates a condition of pretrial release provided in s. 903.047, when the original arrest was for an act of domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, and shall be held in custody until his or her first appearance.
741.2901 Domestic violence cases; prosecutors; legislative intent; investigation; duty of circuits; first appearance.--
(1) Each state attorney shall develop special units or assign prosecutors to specialize in the prosecution of domestic violence cases, but such specialization need not be an exclusive area of duty assignment. These prosecutors, specializing in domestic violence cases, and their support staff shall receive training in domestic violence issues. Specialized prosecution units handle all cases of domestic violence.
(2) It is the intent of the Legislature that domestic violence be treated as a criminal act rather than a private matter. For that reason, criminal prosecution shall be the favored method of enforcing compliance with injunctions for protection against domestic violence as both length and severity of sentence for those found to have committed the crime of domestic violence can be greater, thus providing greater protection to victims and better accountability of perpetrators. This provision shall not preclude such enforcement by the court through the use of indirect criminal contempt. The state attorney in each circuit shall adopt a pro-prosecution policy for acts of domestic violence, as defined in s. 741.28, and an intake policy and procedures coordinated with the clerk of court for violations of injunctions for protection against domestic violence. The filing, non-filing, or diversion of criminal charges, and the prosecution of violations of injunctions for protection against domestic violence by the state attorney, shall be determined by these specialized prosecutors over the objection of the victim, if necessary. "The state attorney in each circuit shall adopt a pro-prosecution policy for acts of domestic violence." This means the State will pursue charges once a report is filed.
(3) Prior to a defendant's first appearance in any charge of domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28, the State Attorney's Office shall perform a thorough investigation of the defendant's history, including, but not limited to: prior arrests for domestic violence, prior arrests for non-domestic charges, prior injunctions for protection against domestic and repeat violence filed listing the defendant as respondent and noting history of other victims, and prior walk-in domestic complaints filed against the defendant. This information shall be presented at first appearance, when setting bond, and when passing sentence, for consideration by the court. When a defendant is arrested for an act of domestic violence, the defendant shall be held in custody until brought before the court for admittance to bail in accordance with chapter 903. In determining bail, the court shall consider the safety of the victim, the victim's children, and any other person who may be in danger if the defendant is released.
741.2902 Domestic violence; legislative intent with respect to judiciary's role.--
(1) It is the intent of the Legislature, with respect to domestic violence cases, that at the first appearance the court shall consider the safety of the victim, the victim's children, and any other person who may be in danger if the defendant is released, and exercise caution in releasing defendants.
(2) It is the intent of the Legislature, with respect to injunctions for protection against domestic violence, issued pursuant to s. 741.30, that the court shall:
(a) Recognize that the petitioner's safety may require immediate removal of the respondent from their joint residence and that there can be inherent danger in permitting the respondent partial or periodic access to the residence.
(b) Ensure that the parties have a clear understanding of the terms of the injunction, the penalties for failure to comply, and that the parties cannot amend the injunction verbally, in writing, or by invitation to the residence.
(c) Ensure that the parties have knowledge of legal rights and remedies including, but not limited to, visitation, child support, retrieving property, counseling, and enforcement or modification of the injunction.
(d) Consider temporary child support when the pleadings raise the issue and in the absence of other support orders.
(e) Consider supervised visitation, withholding visitation, or other arrangements for visitation that will best protect the child and petitioner from harm.
(f) Enforce, through a civil or criminal contempt proceeding, a violation of an injunction for protection against domestic violence.
(g) Consider requiring the perpetrator to complete a batterers' intervention program. It is preferred that such program be certified under s. 741.32.

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