Protecting Domestic Violence Victims in Florida

Stories of domestic violence are, unfortunately, all too common in recent years. The repeated appearance of athletes in news stories related to involvement with alleged acts of domestic violence provides a spotlight on an issue that is not always adequately addressed. Florida State University’s football program has appeared particularly often in the news as 21 players over the past five years were arrested on a variety of sexual assault/violence and drug-related charges, which serves as an example of why more awareness of this issue is necessary. The coach, Jimbo Fisher, recently outlined a new domestic violence program directed at educating players about what type of conduct is permissible against women through seminars on domestic violence and anger management. The Florida legislature, also recognizing the need for more protection for victims of domestic violence, passed a new law that will go into effect on October 1, 2015, listing the types of activities that would violate a no-contact order during a pretrial release.

Making that initial phone call to the police can be a very scary phone proposition for victims, so it is important they know what to expect once the police arrive, as well as what happens once the accused attacker is released from jail. By alerting victims about what to expect during the early stages of a domestic violence investigation, they may be encouraged to fully report the attack and hopefully prevent similar events from reoccurring.

Information Provided to Victims When an Investigation is Opened

When police arrive in response to a suspected domestic violence incident, there are several types of information the officer is required to supply to the victim. First, the officer must offer to contact emergency responders if an injury occurred. Second, the officer must offer the name, address and phone number of a nearby domestic violence shelter capable of assisting the victim. Finally, the officer must offer a copy of a document outlining the victim’s legal rights against the accused. The victim has the right to request a state’s attorney prosecute the accused, request an injunction to prevent the accused from inflicting future attacks, request custody of any children shared between the victim and the accused, and request financial support from the accused.

New Law on Prohibited No Contact Activities

Under the new no contact law for domestic violence charges, as a condition of release from jail, the accused is prohibited from contacting the victim for the entire time leading up to trial. The no contact order is effective immediately and the law now specifically outlines what types of activities would be considered a violation. If a violation of the no contact order occurs, the police may re-arrest the accused and hold him/her in jail until trial. The prohibited activities include: oral or written communications by the accused, or through a third party, with victim in person, electronically or via phone; engaging in physical or violent contact with the victim on his/her property; standing within 500 feet of the victim’s residence, even if the residence is shared with the accused; and standing within 500 feet of the victim’s car, work or frequently visited locations. If the victim and accused share children, the accused does have the opportunity to request the appointment of a third party by the court for the purpose of maintaining contact with children.

Being the victim of domestic violence is a frightening and overwhelming situation, but there are people willing and able to help you. Stok Kon + Braverman, located in Fort Lauderdale and Boynton Beach, offer legal services for domestic violence victims and will assist you to obtain the best and strongest protection possible for yourself and your family to prevent future attacks. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.