In Florida, domestic violence crimes generally refer to any offenses in which a family or household member caused physical injury to, or the death of, another family or household member. Additionally, stalking, assault, battery, and kidnapping all fall under the umbrella of domestic violence.
Like other criminal offenses, domestic violence crimes are either classified as felonies or misdemeanors. When aggravating circumstances are present—such as bodily harm or stalking in defiance of an injunction—domestic violence charges are usually classified as felonies. Often, people convicted of domestic violence crimes wonder about how their convictions will affect their criminal record.
In Florida, domestic violence charges cannot be sealed or expunged from a person’s record if they plead “guilty” or “no contest” to the charge. If you have a domestic violence charge and are wondering if you are eligible to have the charge sealed or expunged, it’s best to consult a skilled criminal defense attorney.
Under Florida Law, there are several kinds of cases that cannot be sealed if the defendant took or accepted a plea bargain. In Florida, crimes that are ineligible to be sealed are classified as dangerous crimes, and domestic violence falls under this category. Therefore, if a person accepted a plea deal to a domestic violence-related charge, their case cannot be sealed. The only way to seal domestic violence cases in Florida is if a defendant is found not guilty of the charge by a judge or jury.
Like any criminal charges, domestic violence charges are eligible for expungement if they are not filed, dropped by the state, or dismissed by the court. This means that if you were arrested for domestic violence but the charges were never formally filed by the state or were dropped or dismissed, the charges can be expunged. However, your domestic case cannot be expunged if you plead guilty to any charges.
Every case is different. However, if you plead guilty, there are some options available to you for settling your case and avoiding a permanent domestic violence charge on your public record.
In the case of a first arrest or if the state doesn’t have a strong case, they may offer to work with your attorney to negotiate an agreement that would allow you to complete a pretrial diversion program. These programs usually require individuals to complete anger management counseling and/or community service. If this program is completed successfully, the state will usually drop the charges against you. This then allows you to expunge the case so that you don’t have a permanent record.
In some cases, your attorney may be able to negotiate with the state to change the charge to something other than a domestic violence-related charge. If this happens, you may be able to accept a withhold of adjudication and in doing so, get the record sealed. However, to successfully have the record sealed, you’ll still have to meet all the criteria.
Ultimately, the best way to understand your options for avoiding a permanent record is to work with a criminal defense attorney. A skilled lawyer will consider all the factors surrounding your case and develop the best strategy for handling your criminal record.
At Fighter Law, our team is dedicated to fighting for our clients that have been wrongly accused. Our excellent legal team has a superb reputation for helping clients fight wrongful charges and regain their rights. Additionally, attorney Thomas Feiter is Board Certified and is one of the leading attorneys for injunctions in Central Florida. To discuss your situation with one of our skilled attorneys, call today at (407) FIGHTER (344-4837) or fill out our online contact form.
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