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Domestic Violence

When an act of violence is alleged between certain people who share a household or who have shared a household, it is considered “domestic violence.” Like any criminal accusation, claims of domestic violence can result in penalties, like time in jail and significant fines.

However, there are other consequences associated with these charges. A mere accusation of domestic violence can result in a protective order, which will severely curtail the accused’s ability to live his or her life. There are special penalties that come with a conviction. For instance, a person who pleads or is found guilty to any domestic violence charge, even a misdemeanor, will lose his or her right to possess a firearm for life under federal law.

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Fort Lauderdale Domestic Violence Lawyer

If you have accusations of any sort of violent act, including assault, battery or stalking, against a family member or loved one in Broward County, it’s important that you act immediately. A permanent restraining order may be issued within a matter of days. Contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale domestic violence lawyer to begin work on your case.

At Meltzer & Bell, we represent clients who face accusations of spousal abuse, child abuse and any other crime that would be classified as domestic violence. We respond to calls 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

We started in Broward County as a former prosecutor and public defender, and understand the courts here. We represent people from our Fort Lauderdale office in Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Hollywood, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach, Plantation, Weston, Davie and Wilton Manors.

Florida Family Violence Information Center

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How Florida Law Defines “Domestic Violence”

Criminal acts that fall under the state’s definition of domestic violence are found under Florida Statutes Annotated § 741.28, which defines the term for family violence cases in 17th Judicial Circuit courts in Fort Lauderdale and Broward County. Domestic violence, under the law, means any one of several offenses that may occur between people who have a certain relationship.

Covered relationships include:

  • Husband and wife;
  • Former husband and wife;
  • People related by blood, including parent and child, grandparent and grandchild or brother and sister;
  • People residing together as a family; including stepparent and stepchild;
  • People who have resided together as a family in the past; and
  • People with whom the defendant has a child.

Although Florida does not yet recognize marriage equality, people in same-sex relationship may face charges and be convicted of domestic violence.
In addition, Florida law covers dating violence. Dating violence in defined in Florida Statutes Annotated § 784.046(1)(d) as an act of criminal violence occurring between two people who have shared a significant romantic relationship within the previous six months.

There are several different charges listed in the law. However, it ultimately covers any criminal charge that results in physical injury or death. Charges that could result in domestic violence charges, both listed and unlisted in the statute, include:

  • Assault
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Battery
  • Battery by Strangulation
  • Aggravated Battery
  • Stalking
  • Aggravated Stalking
  • Kidnapping
  • False Imprisonment

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Child Abuse and Neglect Charges Under Florida Law

Under Florida Statutes Annotated § 827.03, a person may be charged with any of the following crimes pertaining to children:

  • Child Abuse: The intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child or an act that can be reasonably expected to cause physical or mental injury;
  • Aggravated Child Abuse: This means to commit any of the following upon a child:
    • Aggravated battery
    • Willful torture
    • Malicious punishment
    • Willfully and unlawfully caging
    • Abusing a child in a manner that causes great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement;
  • Neglect of a Child: The accused is a caregiver, alleged to have failed or omitted to care for a child and/or provide for the child’s basic needs, including providing medical care, in a way that cause great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement.

Child abuse charges do not need to occur between parent and child or any other relationship covered under domestic violence law. However, when they do, the accused may face a restraining order prevented him or her from seeing his or her child.

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Protective Orders in a Broward County Domestic Violence Case

A person making an accusation of domestic violence may file a petition for a protective order under Florida Statutes Annotated § 741.30 or 784.046. At that point, the judge may decide whether to issue a temporary order. In most cases, he or she will grant it. This is decided in an ex parte hearing, meaning the accused is not able to be represented.

The temporary order, generally, will prohibit the accused from communicating with the victim or going near the victim. It may prohibit the accused from possessing a firearm or from consuming alcohol. It can order the accused away from his or her home, or to pay for the residence of the victim.

Within 15 days, the judge must set a hearing for a permanent order. At that hearing, the accused can be represented by a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer from Meltzer & Bell.

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Broward County Domestic Violence Resources

Family Division, 17th Circuit: Hearings regarding protective orders are heard in the Family Division of the 17th Circuit, which covers Broward County.

Broward Sheriff’s Office Domestic Violence Page: The County’s chief law enforcement officer provides information about domestic violence charges to victims.

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Finding the Best Family Abuse Attorney in Broward County

If you have been accused of any type of violence against a family member or person you have dated  in Broward County, it is important to act fast. A dedicated Fort Lauderdale domestic violence lawyer from Meltzer & Bell can represent you both in protective order hearings and in any criminal proceedings that follow. Call us now at (954) 228-2789 to schedule a free consultation.

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