Being accused of domestic violence during a divorce in Florida can be emotionally challenging, especially when this is the first time you have been accused. However, false or exaggerated allegations are not uncommon during a divorce, and they can have serious consequences on your reputation, career, custody rights and freedom. But, you can fight back.
Understanding domestic violence in Florida
Florida law broadly defines domestic violence, and it covers various crimes involving violence or threats of violence among individuals with a family or household relationship. This includes spouses, ex-spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, co-parents, roommates and dating partners. Acts such as assault, battery, sexual assault, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment or any offense causing physical injury falls under the scope of domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Injunctions
Injunctions, also known as restraining or protective orders, can be filed by anyone claiming to be a victim of domestic violence or fearing imminent danger. When facing such accusations, immediate legal action is crucial. The petitioner can request various reliefs, including temporary custody, child and spousal support and exclusive use of the home. Violating an injunction is a criminal offense, leading to arrest and additional penalties.
Defenses against domestic violence allegations
When confronting domestic violence allegations and injunctions, several defenses can be employed. One is self-defense. The accused can argue that their actions were in self-defense or defense of others due to a reasonable belief in imminent danger. Depending on the situation, there could also be a defense of consent or mistake available.
Another defense is lack of evidence. Challenge the credibility and reliability of evidence presented by the petitioner, questioning witness statements, medical records, photographs and police reports. You can also demonstrate that the accusations are false or exaggerated, potentially motivated by revenge, jealousy, anger or greed.
Safeguarding your rights
When facing domestic violence allegations, immediate actions can protect your rights. First, avoid contact and adhere to the injunction’s terms. Refrain from communicating with the petitioner or other protected parties unless authorized by the court or your attorney. Strictly follow the court’s conditions, such as staying away from specified locations, surrendering firearms or attending counseling.
Second, gather evidence and preserve evidence. Collect any evidence supporting your defense, such as witness statements, medical records, photographs or police reports. Avoid tampering with relevant evidence like text messages, emails or social media posts.
Finally, limit your discussions and cooperate with the process. Refrain from discussing the case, except with your attorney, and do not disclose information to the petitioner, police, media or potential witnesses. Follow legal advice, attend court hearings and comply with court orders diligently.