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Battery by strangulation is a very serious form of domestic violence. It occurs when a family member or significant other chokes the person with whom they have a “domestic” relationship. Sometimes strangling occurs in the context of a mutual fight. In other cases, a victim may initially want to press charges but not understand the full ramifications of doing so. Once a victim calls the police to come out to the scene, the situation stops being within their control. The state prosecutor has sole authority to decide whether to pursue or drop charges. If you are charged with battery by strangulation, you should contact Tampa domestic violencelawyer Will Hanlon to protect your rights.


Florida Statute section 784.041 prohibits domestic battery by strangulation. Felony battery is committed when a person actually and intentionally hits or touches someone against their will and causes a great injury, permanent disfigurement, or permanent disability. A prosecutor can secure a conviction for domestic battery by strangulation by proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly and intentionally, against the alleged victim’s will, obstructed the alleged victim’s usual breathing or blood circulation, such that there was a risk of causing great bodily harm. This can be done by putting pressure on the alleged victim’s throat or neck or by blocking their nose or mouth. The alleged victim must have been a family or household member or a person with whom the defendant had a dating relationship. There is an exception for lawfully authorized acts of medical diagnosis, prescription, or treatment.

A family or household member can include a spouse, ex-wife, or ex-husband, someone blood- or marriage-related, people living together like a family, people who have lived together in the past like a family, and people parenting a child together, regardless of their marital status. To be charged with domestic violence, people who are family or household members need to be currently living together or have lived together in the past in a single dwelling unit. This does not apply to people who are casually dating — a domestic relationship is a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. In other words, it would not be charged as domestic violence if you get into a huge fight with an in-law who lives down the street and wind up choking them. Other charges would likely apply, such as simple battery, but not domestic violence charges.

Battery by strangulation is a third-degree felony, and if the prosecutor proves their case, you can be sentenced up to five years’ imprisonment, five years’ probation, and a fine of $5,000. Other consequences include completing a 29-week Batterers Intervention Program, forfeiting the right to have a gun, losing a concealed weapons permit, and possibly struggling to obtain a job, professional license, or housing. This offense is not eligible to be sealed or expunged from your criminal record.

The defense or defenses that are appropriate depend on the circumstances surrounding the alleged strangulation. For example, it might be appropriate to argue self-defense. If your spouse was attacking you, and the only way to stop the attack was to grab their neck, but there was no intent to impede their breathing, self-defense might be an appropriate defense to raise.

Like any other person, police officers can be biased or can misread what has happened when they report to the scene. If you retain an attorney early in the process, the attorney will have the opportunity to intervene and help the prosecutor understand not just the police officer’s version of what happened, but also yours.


Retaining an attorney to discuss the case with the prosecution can make a difference to the outcome. Whether or not to pursue the charge is a question for the prosecutor, and the prosecutor can choose to proceed even if the victim does not want them to proceed, making it imperative to persuade the prosecutor of your version of what happened and any mitigating circumstances of which they may be unaware. You should take seriously an arrest for battery by strangulation. An early intervention by a skillful Tampa attorney with a good reputation can make a difference to the outcome of your case and its impact on your family. Our founder, battery defenselawyer Will Hanlon, is committed to protecting the rights of the accused. He has represented criminal defendants since 1994. Call Hanlon Law at 813-228-7095 or use our online form to set up your appointment.