If you are going through a breakup, divorce or a rocky phase in a relationship, you may have moments you are not proud of. When tensions rise and disagreements escalate, there may be times when things get volatile and perhaps even physical. If police arrive, the situation immediately moves to another level. Everything you say and do from that moment can affect your future.
In Florida, as in most states, police have little room for discretion if they believe domestic violence has occurred. Domestic violence occurs between two people who have an intimate relationship, such as spouses or ex-spouses, romantic partners or co-parents. Because of the nuances in an intimate relationship, law enforcement treats such cases differently than they would a simple assault. While each situation is different, you may benefit from knowing the general process following an arrest for domestic abuse.
What happens next?
When police determine that domestic violence has occurred, they will arrest the alleged abuser and take him or her to the police station for booking. This means they will take your mugshot, your fingerprints and possibly DNA samples, depending on the circumstances. Officers may take you to a cell, or they may take you to an interrogation room for questioning. It is important to remain silent until you obtain legal counsel. Authorities may interpret anything you say, even expressing regret for the situation, as an admission of guilt.
In the hours and days to follow, you may experience any of the following:
- You will probably get permission to use the phone to contact an attorney and speak with family members, but you may not contact your accuser.
- If booking is at a holding facility, officers may transport you to another jail.
- Depending on the circumstances, you may remain in jail until your hearing before the judge.
- The judge will hear the charges against you and decide whether to release you or remand you to jail until your court date.
- If the judge releases you, he or she will likely impose strict conditions, such as having no contact with your accuser and abstaining from alcohol.
- You will learn when your next court appearance will be.
It may be hard to imagine the ramifications of these proceedings, but they can be life-altering. You may be unable to see your children or collect your personal belongings. Your job may be in jeopardy, and your basic rights may be at risk. With so much on the line, it is wise to learn as much as you can about your legal options and how you can fight the life-altering accusations you are facing.