Much has changed in the practice of Florida criminal defense during COVID. With varying orders being issued by the Florida Supreme Court, the Chief Judges of the Circuits, County and local municipalities, we are all dealing with the semi-shutdown as best we can. It seems that new orders, tweaking the last set, are made about every other week.
In Florida, there is a legal action called an Injunction for Protection against Stalking. Injunctions are also called orders for protection or stay away orders in other jurisdictions. Stalking is defined as whent an accused "willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person." Harass means to "engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.
Allegations of child abuse or neglect can generate criminal or family cases against the accused. In many cases a parent accused of child abuse or neglect by the State of Florida in a criminal case will also find themselves defending against a Supplemental Petition to Modify a parenting plan or custody. Sometimes a third case of an injunction for protection against domestic violence could also be brought.
In criminal cases alleging the use of force a defendant may seek immunity from prosecution. Today, this is called Stand Your Ground, but it has always been true that self-defense is a viable defense to any use of force case. A person seeking immunity has the burden to put forth evidence that the use of force alleged was reasonable against another's imminent use of unlawful force.
Whatever the name, there is now a movement sweeping the country to create a procedure to confiscate firearms of suspected at risk individuals before they perpetuate gun violence. Some people refer to these as Red Flag Laws or Gun Violence Restraining Orders/Injunctions.
What if injunction paperwork has been served in Florida? The Respondent or Defendant has been sued for an injunction. What many people fail to realize is that the hearing date the Respondent/Defendant just received is the TRIAL. The defense team must be prepared on that day to present all evidence to defend the case. Furthermore, an injunction can be a life sentence because; an order of protection can be valid until further order of the Court.
Domestic violence has made a lot of headlines recently and by now most of us have seen the ads the NFL felt compelled to bombard us with. My office defends those accused of the criminal charge of domestic violence but we also represent victims seeking injunctions and proceeding with divorce or dissolution of marriage.
Battery is a criminal offense that reaches all levels of society, as proven by the recent encounter between Jay-Z and Solange, his sister-in-law, in the elevator at the Standard Hotel. While the description of the video on TMZ refers to this wild kicking and swinging as an assault, Solange's actions are called battery in Florida. For more on the difference between assault and battery, see my blog Assault and Battery - Very Different Meanings in Florida Criminal Law. Fortunately for Jay-Z, this video captured the altercation, otherwise he could be painted as the aggressor and could easily be the defendant instead of the victim.
In the context of criminal domestic battery or domestic violence, a question often asked is whether a victim can drop the charges. The short answer is No. Only a prosecutor has the discretion whether to charge a person with a crime. The victim to a domestic battery can request that the State not press charges, however it is simply a request.