While some people consider misdemeanor crimes to be relatively minor, they can be quite serious, both in terms of punishment and the effect it can have on a person’s permanent criminal record. As the job market has become more difficult over the years, we have received a lot of calls from people with misdemeanor crimes on their records who did not think much of them at the time but are now having real problems today due to them missing out on job opportunities.
Among the misdemeanor crimes in Florida that are serious, DUI and domestic violence are at the top of the list. DUI’s are serious because they can often stay on one’s record forever (depending on the disposition), they are expensive and they can result in long driver’s license suspensions that can really disrupt a person’s life. Domestic battery charges are serious because the punishments can be severe, they often stay on a person’s record forever and (like DUI’s) future similar arrests can result in felony charges for what would normally be misdemeanor conduct.
As criminal defense lawyers in the Jacksonville area, we handle a lot of domestic battery cases. An alarming number of these arrests and subsequent criminal charges stem merely from one person’s word with no objective, corroborating evidence. The police officer often does not take the time to investigate the allegations, talk to both sides, locate witnesses or do anything else to find out if the allegations are true or if there is a defense such as self-defense. Often, the police officer will side with the first, or only, person to call 911 and make assumptions from there. This is particularly problematic in domestic battery cases since the parties are people who normally have a significant history together and the person calling the police may have an incentive to have the other party arrested.
For our part, we do not believe criminal charges, particularly domestic battery charges, should be brought on the basis of the word of the first person to call the police when no further investigation is done and the alleged suspect has an equally plausible story as to what happened. Unfortunately, all too many people in the Jacksonville area do get arrested on such evidence. And if they do not fight the charges, they may get stuck with a domestic battery conviction that stays on their records forever. A domestic battery charge is not a good charge to have on your record forever.
If you have been arrested for domestic battery in the Jacksonville, Florida area and want to better understand your rights and defenses, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.