Before you even think about pleading guilty or no contest to any felony or
charges in the State of Florida, read this!
If you are a first-time offender and the alleged victim consents, you may
be eligible for
pretrial diversion (PTD)
. However, in a domestic violence case, PTD is not comprised of simple
tasks that can be completed over the course of a few weeks. For felony
domestic charges (such as aggravated stalking or aggravated assault),
you may be required to enter the DIP (Domestic Intervention Program) as
a condition of pretrial diversion. This is an extensive course. If you
are charged with
misdemeanor domestic violence
(such as assault, battery, or violation of injunction) you are looking
at 26 weeks of anger management! That's nearly 7 months!
But then again, you may not even be offered these programs. If you have
a prior record or the alleged victim says "no," you will be
withhold of adjudication
and 1 year of reporting probation. While this may be all well and good
since it doesn't involve a criminal conviction, you must be aware
of the fact that
domestic violence charges cannot be sealed!
You may recall that the main difference between having your
criminal record sealed
is that an expungement occurs when a charge has been dismissed (either
no action or nolle prosse). A criminal record is sealed when adjudication
is withheld on a qualifying offense.
to see which offenses qualify and do not qualify.
You will see that domestic violence charges, regardless of whether they
are misdemeanor or felony charges, cannot come off of your record. For
instance, if you pleaded no contest to a non-domestic aggravated assault
(fight with a stranger) and received a withhold of adjudication followed
by 2 years probation, at the conclusion of the probationary term, you
could have your record sealed. Now, same charge only the alleged victim
is a spouse, former spouse, or parent of a common child? You are ineligible.
The Florida legislature is serious about domestic violence crimes, and
one of the things they want to do is make sure that accused domestic batterers
are labelled for life. It is unfair and downright wrong, but it is the law.
However, you can fight against this policy by not pleading guilty to domestic
violence charges without first consulting a competent Miami-Dade County
criminal defense attorney
with domestic violence experience. As a former Miami-Dade Assistant State
Attorney, I know the tricks and the tactics used by domestic violence
prosecutors. I know that prosecutors often try to compel the testimonies
of unwilling witnesses through threats and coercion. I know that in some
cases, prosecutors will even seek to have their alleged victims and witnesses
put in jail if they refuse to testify.
Don't hire a lawyer whose sole strategy is, "Let's see if
the witness shows up." You can use that strategy in traffic court
when fighting a speeding ticket. Don't try it when jail time or a
life-long criminal record is on the line.
A shrewd and clever Miami-Dade County criminal defense lawyer may be able to
get vital pieces of evidence (such as a 911 tape) excluded. This, and
only this dilligent motion practice, can help win your case if the prosecution
intends to proceed without a victim. If these motions are not successful,
sometimes the only other option is a
. I always like to think that a jury is the one thing standing between
a civilized society and a total police state. If the prosecutors and the
cops are being unreasonable, you may want to put your case in the hands
of 6 rational people.
Florida Supreme Court
doesn't allow for attorneys to advertise their victories on their
websites, I can tell you, without offering specific details, that I have
been successful in filing pretrial motions (namely motions that exclude
911 tapes). Feel free to call or email me and I will tell you about this
in more detail than my website will allow.
The bottom line is that by pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge,
you are subjecting yourself to a lifetime criminal record. Don't be
confused just because the State is offering you a withhold of adjudication.
It may not be a felony conviction (in other words, your civil rights will
not be taken from you), or even misdemeanor conviction, but it will still
give you a criminal record.
If you go to apply for a job and an employer does even a shallow background
check, he or she will find your case, along with the details of your charge.
I can't even begin to tell you how many times a day I get calls from
good people who have one domestic violence charge on their record, for
which they received a withhold and probation. A great number of these
people (many of whom are bright and highly-educated) cannot find jobs.
All because of this supposed "withhold" on their record.
Call my office today
if you or someone you know is being charged with any domestic violence
offense in Broward or Miami-Dade County.