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How does Florida define "domestic violence?"

Most Floridians have been in some form of disagreement. Usually, these spats are left at words and, even if hurtful, the matter eventually resolves itself without too much escalation. In some instances, though, an argument can get heated and become physical. When this happens, an individual may find him or herself facing allegations of criminal wrongdoing. Since harsh penalties may await an individual who is convicted of a criminal offense, it is critical that he or she know the law and how to use it to their advantage.

This week we will briefly look at domestic violence. Under Florida law, domestic violence occurs when physical injury or death is caused to a household member by another household or family member. In short, this physical injury or death can result from assault, battery, sexual assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping and even stalking. Of course, the law also defines "household member" for purposes of the law. Accordingly, the statute indicates that a household or family member includes spouses and former spouses, as well as anyone to whom an individual is related, whether by marriage or blood. The definition also includes those who have a child in common as well as those who are residing together in a fashion similar to a family.

A conviction for domestic violence can result in serious penalties. Of course, conviction may result in incarceration, but merely being accused of such a crime can seriously damage an individual's reputation. Additionally, allegations of domestic violence also result in protective and no-contact orders that can limit an accused individual's time with his or her family members, including children.

For these reasons, it is critical that Floridians who have been accused of domestic violence consider how best to develop a criminal defense strategy that is right for them. An experienced attorney may be able to assist them in evaluating the evidence and putting together strong legal claims that seek to attack the prosecution's case. Hopefully, by damaging the credibility of the prosecution's witnesses, a defendant can avoid those harsh penalties and get back to normal life.

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