Guide To Third-Degree Felony Domestic Battery Charges

The court system in Florida has specific guidelines when categorizing crimes of domestic violence. Are you facing Felony Domestic Battery charges? Have you been a victim of domestic violence and are trying to understand the laws?

Due to the multiple types of charges that may be utilized, it is necessary to understand what constitutes a Domestic Battery charge, the associated punishments, and the impact of a Domestic Battery conviction.

In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss common questions such as “What is Domestic Battery?” among other key related information.

Obtaining knowledge about the categorization of Domestic Battery charges is central to decision-making. It will help determine the next steps for those dealing with these types of charges or crimes.

What Constitutes Third-Degree Felony Domestic Battery Charges?

To fully understand what constitutes Domestic Battery, it is necessary to first be clear on the definition of Domestic Violence according to Florida laws.

Under Florida Statute 741.28, domestic violence means:

“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.”

For clarity, a family or household member would include:

“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 with a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have resided together in the same single dwelling unit.”

Domestic Violence crimes can range from first-degree Misdemeanors to Felonies of varying degrees. It will depend on what happened and whether there is a prior conviction.

When defining Domestic Violence, the criteria and circumstances typically include that the defendant intentionally did one or more of the following:

  • Struck or touched the alleged victim against her or his will
  • Caused bodily harm to the alleged victim
  • Assaulted with a deadly weapon without intent to kill or intent to commit a felony
  • Caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement
  • Conducted other behavior as defined in Florida Statutes for Domestic Violence, such as aggravated stalking.

Additionally, to fully understand what constitutes third-degree Felony Domestic Battery, it is necessary to be clear on the definition of Felony Domestic Battery according to Florida laws:

Under Florida Statute 784.041, Felony Battery means:

Felony battery; domestic battery by strangulation.—

(1) A person commits felony battery if he or she:

(a) Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; and

(b) Causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.

(2)(a) A person commits domestic battery by strangulation if the person knowingly and intentionally, against the will of another, impedes the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a family or household member or of a person with whom he or she is in a dating relationship, so as to create a risk of or cause great bodily harm by applying pressure on the throat or neck of the other person or by blocking the nose or mouth of the other person. This paragraph does not apply to any act of medical diagnosis, treatment, or prescription authorized under this state’s laws.

(b) As used in this subsection, the term:

1. “Family or household member” has the same meaning as in s. 741.28.

2. “Dating relationship” means a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.

(3) A person who commits felony battery or domestic battery by strangulation commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

Here are several examples that could be considered third-degree Felony Domestic Battery:

1) A person hits their spouse on the face and head. This person who is the aggressor has a prior conviction for battery.

2) A person strikes their ex-spouse on the legs with a baseball bat.

3) A couple has a child together but no longer lives in the same house. The man gets angry and physical with the woman, applying pressure on her throat to impede breathing and circulation.

Third-Degree Felony Domestic Battery vs. Other Degrees

One souse grabbing the shoulder of another spouse

Domestic violence in the State of Florida, like other areas of the country, is classified into different degrees of crimes, depending on factors of the particular situation. To understand third-degree Felony Domestic Battery, it is important to know what would be considered first and second-degree.

The typical factors that delineate the degree of a crime include severity, injury, and previous criminal history. The victim’s identity can also make a difference in the degree.

Here are the guidelines as per the Florida courts:

1st degree

  • Stalking – occurs if any person willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person—first-time offense, first-degree misdemeanor.
  • Cyberstalking – to engage in the course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose—first-time offense, first-degree misdemeanor.
  • Battery – committed if someone (1) actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other, OR (2) intentionally causes bodily harm to another person—first-time offense, first-degree misdemeanor.

2nd degree

  • Assault – an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent—second-degree misdemeanor.
  • Aggravated battery – occurs if, while committing battery, someone: (1) intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or (2) uses a deadly weapon. Furthermore, a person commits aggravated battery if the victim of the battery was pregnant at the time of the offense and the offender knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant—first-time offense, second-degree felony.

3rd Degree

Important note: Florida has an aggressive approach to repeat offenders. If there is one prior conviction of domestic violence, a second offense of domestic violence, as defined in the statutes, would be considered a third-degree felony.

Additionally, the Domestic Battery by Strangulation crime is categorized as a third-degree felony, whether it is a first or subsequent offense.

Domestic violence charges, as a whole, may be misdemeanors or felonies. The specific factors involved in each situation will correspond with the categorization under Florida law.

Under Florida law, third-degree Domestic Battery is categorized as a felony. The primary factors associated with this categorization are the degree of harm inflicted upon the victim and prior convictions on the offender’s record.

For example, if a husband batters his wife and has been previously convicted of assault or battery, this would be considered a third-degree felony due to F.S. 784.03(2), the felony battery statute.

There are only limited circumstances where prior convictions will not cause a recurring Domestic Battery offense to become a third-degree felony, including older convictions (more than ten years since release from jail/prison/probation) and certain juvenile offense situations.

Jurisdictions across Florida are bound by the state’s domestic violence laws. There are certain mandatory minimums for domestic violence offenses upon conviction. However, a range of penalties are associated with various offenses, which are decided upon by the courts in the particular jurisdiction of the arrest, including for third-degree offenses.

A common question for people dealing with domestic violence is, “What are the third-degree Felony Domestic Battery punishments?”

Let’s discuss.

The Punishment for Third-Degree Felony Domestic Battery

People who are convicted of third-degree Felony Domestic Battery face serious consequences from the Florida courts. This typically includes imprisonment, fines, probation, mandatory counseling, and other punishments ordered by the judge in the case.

  • Imprisonment – up to 5 years in prison. Some counties are very aggressive in seeking the maximum sentence for incarceration. Factors in the amount of time a person is mandated to serve include the severity of the inflicted harm and prior convictions, among others.
  • Fines – up to $5,000. The amount the judge determines for fines is often dependent on the same or similar factors when they are deciding sentences for prison.
  • Probation – typically 1 year. Under Florida’s domestic violence laws, judges are mandated to impose one year of probation on convicted felons.
  • Batterer Intervention Programthis program requires participants to attend mandatory weekly counseling sessions for 26 weeks. The program must be completed. There is an initial assessment and orientation at the outset prior to the six-month program. Each session is $30, not including transportation to and from the counseling session. If the individual cannot pay or does not attend, they could face an arrest and potential jail time.

Other consequences of a third-degree Felony Domestic Battery conviction include community service, loss of concealed carry rights, and injunctions or “no contact” orders.

Legal Process for Third-Degree Felony Domestic Battery Cases

There are specific legal proceedings associated with these types of charges. Anyone dealing with domestic violence cases should be aware of how they typically progress through the legal system in Florida.

After the arrest, the bond ordered will depend on the details of the charges and prior convictions. Bonds are higher when there are multiple prior convictions.

The case will begin with an investigation, and the State Attorney’s Office will discuss the crime with the offender. The judge will order that the person accused of the offense have no contact with the victim throughout the duration of the case unless the charges are dropped or until the case is resolved.

Both the prosecution and defense will perform investigations and build their case, including gathering evidence, relevant witnesses, and expert witnesses. The county court system will set a court date unless the case is resolved before trial.

When the case goes to trial, each side will present their case. Once this is completed, the court will rule. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will determine the full parameters of the punishment in accordance with the demands of Florida’s domestic violence laws.

Anyone dealing with a domestic violence case should seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Due to the complexity and varying potential consequences, having legal assistance is recommended.

The Impact of a Third-Degree Felony Domestic Battery Charge

A charge or conviction of third-degree Felony Domestic Battery can greatly impact multiple areas of a person’s life.

From social to personal and professional, the repercussions individuals might face can last for many years into the future. The ability to contact a spouse or partner is affected, and potentially contact with children involved in a marriage, partnership, or former relationships can also be affected. A charge or conviction can also affect relationships with friends, family members, and the community.

Personal freedoms can be limited, including incarceration of up to five years imprisonment and injunctions against going to certain places ordered by the court.

An individual’s professional career can be severely affected. Facing a charge or conviction can keep someone from pursuing their profession of choice or cause difficulty obtaining employment, leading to long-term financial challenges.

A Domestic Battery charge has impacts on the defendant, victim, and children. For victims and their children, they can be a path to a better, safer future. For offenders, they can lead to severe punishment.

Get Legal Assistance Today

It is critical to not delay seeking out skilled legal representation in cases of third-degree Felony Domestic Battery as well as any domestic violence charges.

Dean Tsourakis has decades of experience as a prosecutor for the State Attorney’s Office and understands the intricacies of domestic violence cases and how to navigate the process in the Florida courts.

Do not wait any longer to take the next step with a domestic violence attorney.

Contact Dean Tsourakis today for a free consultation to get the help you deserve.