What is Domestic Violence?
Definition as given by The Department of Justice in June of 2017: “We define domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.” To further expand this definition under Florida law: “Domestic Violence Battery is defined as any actual and intentional touching or the intentional causing of bodily harm to another person when the person is a ‘family or household Member’.” A family or member of the household, with the exception of persons having a child in common, must have in the past shared or in present are sharing the residence together of the same, single dwelling. Persons considered family or members of a household will include persons related by blood or marriage, persons living together as a family, and former wives and/or husbands.
Domestic violence is one of the saddest outcomes of many relationships, both in and outside of marriage. This dysfunctional disruption to a relationship which should be built on kindness and caring has been a problem for many as far back as recorded history. Its reasons are many, most of which deal with the pressures of life, the inability to handle one’s emotions, need to feel powerful, and all too frequently, jealousy. Too, in today’s interactions between people all over the world, the drug culture often makes monsters out of men and women who might otherwise be in control of their lives. So what happens to someone who is convicted of having been involved in perpetrating domestic violence?
In Florida, domestic violence battery is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. It is punished with stringent penalties and often long term consequences which are much greater than the punishment adjudicated someone convicted of a conventional battery. The penalties may include a fine of $1,000.00 in addition to up to a year in jail followed by twelve months probation. Additionally, as this crime is considered so serious, a person convicted of domestic violence will always have a criminal record as their record can never be expunged or sealed. There is no exception to this rule. This rule even holds true if adjudication was withheld.
In addition to the above consequences, a person must:
- complete community service hours
- complete a 26-week Batterer’s Intervention Program
- loose certain civil liberties such as the right to vote and the right to carry a concealed weapon
- forfeit the right to hold a civil service job and often other job opportunities will be denied
- comply with the ordering of a no-contact order
While this blog spotlights Florida, all states take a hard-line stance when it comes to domestic violence. When it comes to hurting or violating those who should be near and dear to us, there is never any valid excuse. No matter how difficult a situation is between family and household members, a person must find a solution other than domestic violence. Help is often just a phone call away, whether it is 911, a help hotline, or mental health agency. Never let your temper be your guide.