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Under Florida Statute § 741.281, any person who is found guilty of, has adjudication withheld on, or pleads nolo contendere to a crime of domestic violence will be ordered by the court to attend a batterers’ intervention program as a condition of probation. Domestic violence is defined under Florida Statute § 741.28 as “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”
The Batterers’ Intervention Program in Pinellas County is 29-weeks in length and includes 24 weekly sessions (approximately 6 months). Completion of the program is typically a condition of an alleged offender’s probation. Failure to complete the program will be a violation of probation that can result in possible imprisonment.
If you are facing domestic violence charges or have been ordered to attend a batterers’ intervention program in the Tampa Bay area, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Morris Law Firm, P.A. represents clients throughout Pinellas County, including Pinellas Park, Dunedin, Clearwater, Largo, and many surrounding areas.
St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys Seth Shapiro and Melinda Morris have experience handling domestic violence cases. Melinda Morris has experience on both sides of the aisle because of her time as a former prosecutor for the State Attorney’s Office in Pinellas County. The Morris Law Firm can provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (727) 388-4736 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
When the court orders an alleged offender to participate in a Batterers’ Intervention Program (BIP), Florida Statute § 741.30(6)(a)5 establishes that the court, or any entity designated by the court, must provide the alleged offender with a list of Batterers’ Intervention Programs from which the respondent must choose a program in which to participate. Florida Statute § 741.325 imposes the following requirements for all such batterers’ intervention programs:
Most programs involve an initial assessment of the alleged offender, after which that person is expected to sign a contract in which he or she admits responsibility for his or her actions and agrees to adhere to a strict set of rules or guidelines. The alleged offender is then expected to attend weekly group counseling sessions.
Alleged offenders are expected to pay for the initial assessment and the cost of the weekly sessions, which can be $25 or more per meeting. If a person is unable to pay for the costs of the Batterers’ Intervention Program, the providers may charge on a sliding-fee schedule.
In addition to the fees for participating in the batterers’ intervention program, attendance at weekly group counseling sessions can also cause numerous hardships for alleged offenders when the meetings conflict with work obligations. Many other people fail to see the benefit of continuing to attend.
It is important to understand that failing to attend the sessions or doing anything that results in being terminated from the program can constitute a violation of the alleged offender’s probation. Under such circumstances, the court may be able to impose whatever penalties were allowed for the original domestic violence offense.
If you are having difficulty paying for continued participation in a Batterers’ Intervention Program or are experiencing any kind of issue that may impact your ability to successfully complete the program, you will want to immediately seek the help of a criminal defense lawyer. Numerous alternatives may be available to address any extenuating circumstances that are impacting your ability to continue attending the program.
Batterer Intervention Information | Florida Department of Children and Families — Visit this section of the Department of Children and Families website to learn more about batterer intervention program requirements, laws, and forms. You can also search providers to locate local batterer intervention programs. Pinellas County is in the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Florida.
SunCoast Region | Florida Department of Children and Families
9393 N. Florida Ave.
Tampa, FL 33612
Do Batterer Intervention Programs Work? | National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) — View a report that examines the results of two studies on batterer intervention programs, one of which was conducted in Florida. While the report states that batterer intervention programs “do not change batterers’ attitudes and may have only minor effects on behavior,” it notes that the Florida study found, “Those with the most to lose were the least likely to reoffend.” The report makes suggestions for rethinking intervention, linking batterer programs to other programs and responses, and improving evaluations.
Have you been ordered to attend a Batterers’ Intervention Program or were you arrested in the Tampa Bay area for an alleged domestic violence offense? Do not delay in seeking legal representation. Contact the Morris Law Firm, P.A. today.
Seth Shapiro and Melinda Morris are criminal defense lawyers in St. Petersburg who aggressively defend clients throughout Sarasota County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, and Manatee County. Call (727) 388-4736 or submit an online contact form to take advantage of a free initial consultation that will let our attorneys review your case and answer all of your legal questions.
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