There are many misconceptions about Domestic Violence. Domestic Violence is a criminal offense and can include 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. Most often individuals are arrested for Domestic Battery.
Understanding common misconceptions about Domestic Violence and having an attorney well versed in law and current research on Domestic Violence can help to successfully resolve your case.
MYTH #1 - The Police Will Arrest Both Parties
Fact: The police don’t typically arrest both parties. Even when both parties are involved in the violence, police will only arrest who they deem to be the “primary aggressor.” Florida Statute §741.29 states that, “if two or more persons make complaints to the officer, the officer shall try to determine who was the primary aggressor. Arrest is the preferred response only with respect to the primary aggressor and not the preferred response with respect to a person who acts in a reasonable manner to protect or defend oneself or another family or household member from domestic violence.” Thus even when both parties are involved in the altercation officers are tasked with attempting to determine who they believe to be the “primary aggressor” and arresting just that person. There is certainly the possibility of error in this determination by law enforcement and it also ignores when the “victim” may have been the “predominant aggressor” leading up to the alleged incident.
MYTH #2 - Only Men Commit Acts of Domestic Violence
Fact: Rates of violence are comparable between men and women. Although the stereotype is that the man is typically the primary aggressor, studies have shown that rates of violence are comparable between the sexes and sexual orientations. The latest National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Study found the lifetime prevalence of domestic violence victimization was 47.3% of women and 44.2% of men. Law enforcement does not typically understand this fact and often focuses on the male as the primary aggressor. (see M.C. Black et al., (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011)).
MYTH #3 - There Are Differences in Motives for Domestic Violence Between the Genders
Fact: Motives for committing domestic violence are similar between genders. Influence of alcohol or controlled substances, jealousy, anger and retaliation are all factors in acts of Domestic Violence. Studies have shown that the motives for committing Domestic Violence are the same across genders and LGBTQ populations. (see M.C. Black et al., (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011)).
MYTH #4 - Only One Party Is Responsible for Domestic Violence
Fact: Both parties typically have a propensity for violence. Contrary to popular belief, in abusive relationships, the instigator of violence is oftentimes equal between the male and female partner. (see M.C. Black et al., (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011)).
MYTH #5 - Most Domestic Violence Arrests Involve Serious Injury
Fact: Most domestic violence arrests involve minor or no injuries. The majority of Domestic Battery arrests involve minor or no injury. Because Florida law does “not require consent of the victim or consideration of the relationship of the parties” police almost always make an arrest of the party they deem to be the “primary aggressor” even when there is no injury to the victim or the victim does not want prosecution. (see M.C. Black et al., (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011)).
MYTH #6 - Those Arrested For Domestic Battery Are Truly “Batterers”
Fact: Those arrested for domestic battery are not typically “Batterers.” The person arrested for Domestic Violence is typically labeled as a “batterer” and oftentimes is required to participate in Batterer’s Intervention Prevention (BIP) classes by law. It is far more typical that the arrested is not a “batterer” and that the incident was one of “situational violence” and does not represent a long-term or on-going pattern of violence. Situational violence can include pushing and grabbing as is commonly observed when arguments escalate between the parties and turns physical. (See E. Buzawa & C. Buzawa, Domestic Violence: The Criminal Justice Response (2d ed. 2002); J. Hamel et al., supra note 10; J. Hamel, Gender Inclusive Treatment of Intimate Partner Abuse: Evidence-Based Approaches (2d ed. 2014).)
MYTH #7 - You Can Sue The Police For Arresting the Wrong Party in a Domestic Violence Incident
Fact: You cannot sue police for arresting the wrong party in a domestic violence incident. Florida law states that, “No law enforcement officer shall be held liable, in any civil action, for an arrest based on probable cause, enforcement in good faith of a court order, or service of process in good faith under this chapter arising from an alleged incident of domestic violence brought by any party to the incident.”
What If I Am The Victim?
We also help victims and can work as a victim’s advocate in criminal cases. Our knowledge of how cases work on both sides helps all of our clients immensely.
Criminal Domestic Violence cases are complex matters. A criminal defense attorney can be of great assistance in helping you understand the law, potential consequences, and methods to resolve the cases. Early intervention is key and may help you avoid a formal criminal charge based on the arrest and even put you in the position to have the criminal history removed from your record.
If you have been arrested for Domestic Violence / Domestic Battery, or have had an Injunction For Protection Against Domestic Violence filed against you (or if you are the Petitioner) call the Morris Law Firm at 727-388-4736, Option 1 for New Clients for a strategic review of your case. The Morris Law Firm handles misdemeanor and felony criminal cases as well as related Injunction issues throughout the Tampa Bay area.
** CREDIT: Portions of the above were summarized from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) publication, The Champion, “Litigating Domestic Violence Cases” - John Hamel, Ph.D., LCSW and Brenda Russell, Ph.D.