If you were charged with domestic battery in Jacksonville, you were likely charged under Florida Statute Section 784.03. This is also the Florida battery law that is used for simple battery cases. Section 784.03 reads:
(1)(a) The offense of battery occurs when a person:
1. Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or
2. Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (2), a person who commits battery commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(2) A person who has one prior conviction for battery, aggravated battery, or felony battery and who commits any second or subsequent battery commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. For purposes of this subsection, “conviction” means a determination of guilt that is the result of a plea or a trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld or a plea of nolo contendere is entered.
The difference between simple battery and domestic battery is the type of victim. When it comes to domestic battery, the victim must be a family or household member. A family or household member is defined in Florida Statute Section 741.28(3). This Florida domestic violence law reads:
“Family or household member” means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.
This means that the only difference between a simple battery and domestic battery is the alleged victim. The physical activity is the same. However, the probation sentences are very different. Simple battery does not carry a mandatory probation sentence in Florida. Domestic battery does. Florida Statute Section 741.281 requires the judge to order the Batter’s Intervention Program. This is an intense and expensive program. Section 741.281 reads:
If a person is found guilty of, has adjudication withheld on, or pleads nolo contendere to a crime of domestic violence, as defined in s. 741.28, that person shall be ordered by the court to a minimum term of 1 year’s probation and the court shall order that the defendant attend a batterers’ intervention program as a condition of probation. The court must impose the condition of the batterers’ intervention program for a defendant under this section, but the court, in its discretion, may determine not to impose the condition if it states on the record why a batterers’ intervention program might be inappropriate. The court must impose the condition of the batterers’ intervention program for a defendant placed on probation unless the court determines that the person does not qualify for the batterers’ intervention program pursuant to s. 741.325. The imposition of probation under this section does not preclude the court from imposing any sentence of imprisonment authorized by s. 775.082.
Domestic battery is also different because it is one of the enumerated crimes that cannot be sealed. Read Crimes that Cannot Be Sealed in Florida for the entire list. If you pleaded guilty or no contest to domestic battery, you will not be able to seal or expunge the Florida record. This is different than a simple battery or a charge of fighting or affray in Florida. If you avoid a conviction on a simple battery or fighting/affray arrest, you may still be eligible to seal your Florida criminal record.
If you have been arrested for domestic battery in Duval, Clay, or St. Johns County, speak to a Jacksonville criminal lawyer about your case. You do not want to just plead guilty or no contest to the crime as a matter of convenience. It may end up hurting you in the long run. Call (904) 564-2525 or send and email to Find a Lawyer.