Family Law Archives

Domestic Violence

Port Saint Lucie Criminal Attorney

Domestic Violence/Battery

Port Lucie Criminal Defense Attorney - Stuart Criminal Lawyer

The Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco P.A.
(772) 871-6441 or (772) 288-7338

Treasure Coast Florida families often find themselves facing domestic violence and battery charges, especially when going through a divorce or a custody battle.  When one member of the family is charged with domestic violence, they find themselves in a difficult and emotional situation.  These charges have consequences that extend beyond criminal records.  You should fully expect the state Attorney’s office to arrest and prosecute you for domestic violence, once the police are called to the scene.  And when that occurs, you need to act quickly to defend yourself against these charges.

Here at the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco, P.A, the attorney is experienced at defending people charged with domestic violence and battery.  Our firm, located in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, will guide you through every stage of your case.  With the legal experience needed to defend his clients, Leonard Villafranco is familiar with the court system in Saint Lucie and Martin Counties.  Contact us immediately to schedule a free initial consultation about your case.

Florida Domestic Violence Crimes

Domestic violence often erupts between family members after a simple misunderstanding. However if the police arrive, the chances are very high that someone will go to jail.  If domestic abuse charges result simply from a family dispute, it is important to speak to a knowledgeable attorney like Leonard Villafranco immediately.  He recognizes that the most successful resolution of family disputes occur outside of the courtroom.  We will contact both prosecutors and the attorney for the spouse/victim directly in an effort to resolve the situation without going to trial.

While domestic violence is commonly associated with a fight between a husband and a wife, it can be any physical contact between husbands, wives, children, domestic partners, or people living in a close relationship. Domestic Violence occurs when a family member injures or commits any violent offense against another family member.  Some examples are:

  •  Assault or Battery
  • False Imprisonment of Kidnapping
  • Sexual Battery (Rape)
  • Stalking
  • Any offense resulting in physical injury or death

Florida created a domestic violence court to handle these cases.  If convicted, an individual can face the following penalties:

  • Jail time and probation
  • Restraining order – petitioned by the victim
  • No contract order – issued by a judge
  • Mandatory counseling
  • Permanent stain on your criminal record

Defenses to Domestic Violence

Defending domestic violence cases are difficult, because deeper issues usually caused the altercation in the first place. These defenses can include:

  • Alcohol, Drug, or Substance Abuse
  • Child Custody Disputes
  • Injunctions Proceedings
  • Mental Health Issues
  • Pending Divorce, or
  • Spiteful Family Members

With these things in mind, the best way we approach a domestic violence case in Stuart or Port St. Lucie, Florida, is to develop a plan that will result in the dismissal of the case whenever possible, and also bring harmony between you and the accuser.  Remember that in Martin and St. Lucie County, just because the accuser agrees to “drop the charges,” under Florida law, only the State Attorney has the power to dismiss the charge.

Criminal Assault and Battery

Florida law defines assault as an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to another person, coupled with an apparent ability to do so.  It must also include actually doing some act, which creates a well-founded fear in the other person that such violence is imminent.  A battery is the actual unlawful and willful touching, striking, or causing bodily harm to a victim against his or her will.

Penalties for Domestic Violence

In addition to the statutory penalties applicable to any criminal offense, domestic violence charges also carry the following enhanced penalties.

  • Minimum mandatory jail time of five (5) days in jail
  • Mandatory 26-29 week Batterers Intervention Program
  • Ineligible to ever have the charges sealed or expunged from your criminal record
  • Forfeit your right to have a gun while on probation, even for a misdemeanor
  • Your concealed weapons permit will be revoked

Domestic violence charges can have far reaching repercussions both to you individually and to your entire family.  Criminally speaking, the state Attorney’s office may charge you with either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the severity of the altercation.   The charges may also affect the outcome of your divorce action, how the court may distribute you assets and debts, and issues concerning custody and visitation with your children.  To speak to an experienced lawyer in Stuart or Port St. Lucie, contact the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco, P.A. to schedule a free initial consultation.  We defend people throughout the Treasure Coast of Florida, including Stuart, Palm City, Jupiter, Port Saint Lucie, Fort Pierce, Okeechobee, Vero Beach, and Sebastian.


Leonard S. Villafranco P.A.

HB231: Dissolution of Marriage

Alimony Reform Bill, HB 231, passed the Civil Justice Subcommittee on February 13, 2013 by a majority VOTE of 10-2.

HB231 would take steps to rein in the amount of time that alimony payments could be required, trying to circumvent alimony in marriages of 10 years or less and protecting retirees from alimony obligations. This bill would eliminate the concept of permanent alimony. Judges would have the discretion to extend what is called “durational” alimony for long periods of time when necessary. This bill would limit such durational alimony to 50 percent of the length of the marriage, unless one of the divorcing spouses could show by “clear and convincing evidence that exceptional circumstances justify the need for a longer award of alimony.” Another controversial part of the bill would provide that alimony payments automatically terminate upon the payee spouse’s normal retirement age for social security retirement benefits and the payor’s attainment of retirement age and the payor’s actual retirement constitutes a “substantial change in circumstances” which may warrant a reduction or termination of alimony. This bill would allow what is known as “retroactivity,’’ which could lead to modification or reduction of already-existing alimony arrangements.

HB231 also revises factors to be considered in alimony awards; provides that an award of alimony automatically terminates without further action under certain circumstances; provides that the party seeking alimony has burden of proof; requires court to consider specified factors when determining type and amount of alimony; provides for imputation of income in certain circumstances; provides for offset of or other consideration of alimony obligation in determining equitable distribution or child support in certain circumstances; provides that alimony order be modified upon showing of substantial change in circumstances by clear & convincing evidence; provides that increase in an obligor’s income may not be considered permanent in nature until maintained for specified period; provides for attorney fees & costs if obligee unnecessarily or unreasonably litigates petition for modification or termination; revises provisions relating to effect of supportive relationship on alimony; allows separate adjudication of issues in certain circumstances; provides applicability.
Effective Date: July 1, 2013


Port St Lucie and Stuart Family Law Attorney

SB 718: Dissolution of Marriage

Revising factors to be considered for alimony awards; requiring a court to make written findings regarding the basis for awarding a combination of forms of alimony, including the type of alimony and length of time for which it is awarded; revising provisions relating to the protection of awards of alimony; prohibiting an alimony award from being modified providing that if the court orders alimony concurrent with a child support order, the alimony award may not be modified because of the later modification or termination of child support payments, etc.

Effective Date: July 1, 2013

If you have questions about the alimony reform bill, how it may affect you, or if you think you have a case regarding alimony please contact a St. Lucie County attorney at the Law Office of Leonard S. Villafranco P.A. today to schedule a consultation.  Martin County Attorney Leonard S. Villafranco is  knowledgeable regarding the Florida Alimony Reform, and is ready to assist you in any and all family law matters.


(772) 288-7338 Stuart Office

(772) 871-6441 Port Saint Lucie Office



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