Domestic violence allegations in Florida can be some of the toughest types of charges for judges and juries to evaluate. Often, domestic violence charges are based upon “he said-she said ” situations, and it is up to the judge to determine what types of evidence and argument a jury can hear in order to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. Generally, the final charges to the jury, in the form of jury instructions, can be used to frame the charges in a way that gives one side an advantage over the other. Because of this, there are strict requirements concerning how and what can be told to the jury in their instructions. A Florida appellate court recently determined that the jury was improperly instructed before deliberations and reversed the conviction of a man who was accused and convicted of a domestic violence crime after having an altercation with his then-romantic partner.
According to the facts discussed in the opinion, the defendant was charged with aggravated battery following a physical altercation with the alleged victim, his partner with whom he lived. Conflicting testimonies emerged between the alleged victim and the defendant. The alleged victim claimed that the defendant arrived home with another woman, leading to an argument. The defendant allegedly punched, kicked, and strangled the alleged victim, even attempting to drown her in a bowl of ice water. The alleged victim testified to sustaining various injuries.
The defendant, on the other hand, asserted that the alleged victim attacked him first, and a physical altercation ensued. He denied drowning her, using a firearm, or preventing her from leaving. The other woman’s testimony supported the defendant’s version, stating that the alleged victim initiated the violence, barricaded the door, and attacked both the defendant and herself.