Earlier this year, leaders in Orange County pushed for change in Florida law. Specifically, they were looking at a few loopholes in Florida law that left domestic violence victims unprotected.

The first, Senate Bill 342, is a no contact order. It was approved by the Florida senate, and will go into effect October 1. Prior to this law, defendants were only prohibited from contacting their victims after posting bond and being released from jail. This meant that many defendants contacted their victims from prison, harassing them and making threats, and oftentimes convincing the victim to drop the charges altogether. When SB 342 goes into effect, the judge’s no contact order is effective immediately, and defendants are prohibited from contacting their victims.

The second proposed change, Senate Bill 1286, has not yet been approved. This bill deals with court ordered electronic monitoring devices. Currently, there is no law penalizing the removal, alteration, or disabling of these devices. But because Orange County suspended the use of electronic monitoring devices in 2013, this law wouldn’t impact cases in this county.

Orange County has seen some of the highest domestic violence rates in the nation in the last few years. Hopefully, with the changes SB 342 brings, we will see these rates drop. No one should have to live with the terror that domestic violence brings. Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical abuse, battery, sexual assault, stalking, or kidnapping. Any action that could result in injury or death may be considered domestic violence. If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence, or if you believe that your partner will commit an act of domestic violence, contact a Domestic Violence Lawyer today.

Read original article here.


We like to highlight community agencies that are doing great work in our midst.  The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence is one of them.   They maintain a long list of 42 certified local agencies statewide;  they provide hotlines and a variety of outreach services all over the state.  You can become a member or get involved in support of their good work.  On their homepage, you can sign up for a free email newsletter, to stay abreast of the events and policies that they are involved in.

Domestic Violence is horrible in any degree.  What many victims do not realize is that they do not suffer alone.  The ripples spread and affect everyone.  There is a pattern to domestic violence that survivors and volunteers are experienced with, which enables them to respond quickly for your safety, and that of your family.  Pulling together since 1977, this coalition has created a powerful force for good in our community.   To put a stop to abuse like this requires direct, forceful action.  If you are a victim, you need their resources on your side, to put an end to it.

They address many aspects of this problem, from teen dating violence, to child welfare, immigration-related aspects, primary prevention, and many more.  They provide a number of free resources.

Llabona Law Group practices family law.  Family means home.  We are in support of strong, healthy homes and families for the brighter future of our Florida communities.


Domestic violence remains a serious issue in the United States and around the rest of the world as well.  Although laws have changed to increase penalties for perpetrators of domestic violence, millions of women and hundreds of thousands of men are assaulted by their partners every year.

Domestic violence takes many forms and includes physical, emotional, and mental abuse, stalking, threatening and kidnapping.  Any action by one household member or former partner against another that can result in injury or death could be considered an act of domestic violence.

Law enforcement agencies in this nation are seeing a rise in one type of physical domestic violence – strangulation.  Strangulation is being referred to as the ‘Silent Killer’ in domestic violence cases because little evidence is left behind.  According to one Arizona detective, strangulation happens quickly with victims being rendered unconscious in ten seconds.  A forensic nurse examiner said that medical professionals and law enforcement officials are undereducated and uninformed about the dangers of strangulation, and with little or no evidence of physical abuse left behind, a strangulation case is difficult to prove.   Tragically when a victim is repeatedly strangled, he or she is more likely to suffer other health issues, such as a stroke or a heart attack, in the future. 

One victim of repeated strangulations endured years of suffering in silence at the hands of her boyfriend until she finally found the courage to leave him.  She said when her boyfriend assaulted her he knew how to strangle her in such a manner to leave no visible marks on her neck. 

Attempted strangulation cases can leave victims close to death, but leave few, if any, external signs of injury needed to prove a felony assault charge.  It is also hard to prove an attempted murder charge in such a case because the suspect may say he was trying to frighten not kill his victim.

In the past decade, many states, Florida included, have enacted laws making attempted strangulation a felony crime.  Domestic violence advocates say these laws not only ensure offenders will receive tougher penalties, but also promote awareness of the crime of strangulation, a crime that often precedes homicide and is chronically under-prosecuted.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, do not wait to get help.  Contact an experienced Domestic Violence Attorney for advice or representation.


Domestic violence affects one in four women in their lifetime.  It destroys families and threatens the well-being of spouses and children.  In the United States alone it is estimated that 145 women are domestically abused every hour.  To raise awareness of and end violence against women and girls, October has been designated as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.”

Domestic violence takes many forms and includes physical abuse, emotional abuse and such actions as stalking and kidnapping.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was signed into law by President Clinton in 1994.   VAWA increased the penalties for crimes against women.  These crimes include domesticate violence, stalking and sexual assault.  VAWA also enhanced penalties for repeat sex offenders, and improved laws regarding protection orders, sex-offender registration and interstate domestic violence.

In 2000, key components were added to VAWA that improved law enforcement responses to domestic violence, enhanced education and training, and provided services for those domestic violence victims that faced barriers to accessing services.

This year, 2013, VAWA was reauthorized once again focusing on assisting LGBTQ, immigrant and Native American victims of domestic violence.

Since VAWA was enacted in 1994, domestic violence reporting has increased 51 percent, and the number of victims killed by intimate partners has decreased by 34 percent.

On September 17th, in his Proclamation on Domestic Violence, Florida Governor Rick Scott writes “domestic violence is a crime that threatens the safety and lives of thousands of Floridians every year.”

The Proclamation details domestic violence statistics in the state for last year: 108, 046 reported domestic violence incidents; 65,107 arrests; and tragically, 202 deaths as a result of domestic violence. 

The State of Florida has 42 certified domestic violence centers that provided emergency shelter to 15,577 survivors of domestic violence and their children, distributed over 86,000 safety plans and responded to 90,927 hotline calls in 2012.

Governor Scott ended his proclamation by encouraging  all Floridians to work collectively to promote healthy and peaceful relationships and prevent domestic violence.


The first systematic study of available data on assaults of women by intimate partners around the world was released on Thursday.  The study reports that thirty percent of women aged fifteen years and older have suffered domestic violence at the hands of their partner.  In the study, the authors synthesized 141 previous studies from 81 countries, and published their findings in the Science Journal online.

The lead author of the study, Karen Devries from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, stated, “The prevalence is shockingly high … many forms of violence remain hidden from public view … as victims often do not disclose abuse to those people close to them.”

The rates of domestic abuse do vary widely by country, with the Sub-Saharan Central Africa region having the highest frequency of reported abuse, with nearly two-thirds of women victimized. 

One way to assist women who have been abused is to implement programs that allow survivors to become economically self-sufficient so they can live apart from their abusers. 

Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) said the 1994 passing of the Violence Against Women Act ”helped shift the culture and the opportunities for women so they’re not dependent on an individual who may turn out to be violent.”  The act extended coverage to male victims, created tougher penalties for repeat sex offenders, and created a federal “rape shield law”, which protects a victim’s past sexual conduct from being used during a rape trial.

This cultural reform, however, has not reached to all corners of the globe.  Although 125 countries have now outlawed domestic violence, 70 countries have not made it illegal. 

Rita Smith, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, stated there is “a whole other layer of violence that happens that isn’t physical – emotional, verbal, economic, stalking, threats with weapons” – and are ways used to control another human being.

Domestic violence destroys families and threatens the well-being of spouses/partners and children.  If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence, immediately seek the advice of a competent, experienced domestic violence attorney.


On Valentine’s Day, a new policy to protect domestic-violence victims began in both Orange and Osceola counties.  The policy mandates the use of GPS tracking devices in high risk domestic violence cases. The policy only mandates the wearing of a GPS device in those domestic violence cases in which a permanent injunction has been issued.

Orange-Osceola Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., stated, “Those (victims) need to get some warning so they’re not just sitting ducks.”  Judge Perry sought legislative funding for the GPS equipment last year and said that he “knew of no other jurisdiction in the country that has employed the tactic” on domestic violence abusers.

Judge Perry added that after researching domestic abuse cases and talking with experts, they found that  in ten percent of the cases the abuser, despite an injunction being issued, will commit extreme acts of violence upon a victim, acts that at times result in the death of the victim.

The Orange County Domestic Violence Commission and other domestic violence advocates feel the policy is a huge step in the right direction for domestic violence victims.  In Orange County alone, twelve domestic violence murders have been committed since September.

According to Carol Wick, CEO of Harbor House, last year saw a 41 percent increase in the number of adult victims and a 36 percent increase in the number of children seeking shelter at the facility.  Wick also stated  92 percent of those individuals arrested for domestic violence receive no consequences for their actions and  Orange County alone spends $24 million a year to arrest domestic violence perpetrators just to turn around and let them go.

The new policy will require the offender to wear an ankle GPS unit which is monitored by an outside company.  When the abuser enters the restricted zone around the domestic violence victim, the victim will immediately be called, the local police or sheriff’s office will be contacted, and finally the wearers of the device will be called to give them the chance to retreat from the restricted area in case they mistakenly entered the area.

The pilot program will run through June and will cost the state $316,000.  Lawmakers will then decide whether or not to keep funding the program.

Original story can be found here.


A Winter Springs man is behind bars for allegedly attempting to strangle his girlfriend, and for also pointing a loaded gun at her head and threatening to kill her.

Winter Springs police arrested Dean Erlandson, a Seminole County firefighter, for domestic violence after he was accused of beating his girlfriend.

According to the police report, Erlandson told police he and his girlfriend had a verbal fight over text messages sent to his girlfriend’s phone by a former boyfriend.

The woman’s story, however, differed drastically from that of the suspect’s.  According to police, Erlandson held her down by her neck, pointed a loaded gun at her and said they were both going to die.

Erlandson has had run-ins with the law in the past.  Just this summer in Orlando, he was arrested by police after he was accused of beating a man in a parking garage. 

The suspect  is being held in Seminole County Jail without bond, and has his first court appearance  scheduled for Monday.

In Florida in 2010, 113,378 crimes of domestic violence were reported to Florida law enforcement agencies resulting in 67,810 arrests. Although this number seems high, in reality the number of domestic violence crimes is higher as there are those survivors of domestic violence that do not report their abusers to law enforcement officials.

Domestic violence comes in many forms and is a growing problem in this country.  If you are a victim of or believe your partner may commit an act of domestic violence against you or your children, immediately contact an experienced Florida domestic violence attorney.

It is also very important to contact an experienced attorney if you have been accused of domestic violence and are innocent of the charges.  The consequences of a domestic violence conviction can be quite steep, and could include mandatory jail time, permanent criminal record, forfeiture of your right to own a firearm, and mandatory counseling. Protect yourself by seeking the advice of a experienced, competent domestic violence lawyer.


Read the original story here.


A lease on a residence, whether it be an apartment, townhouse or a single family home, is a binding contract between two parties, with both parties being  obligated to honor the terms of the agreement.  Even though it is a binding contract, there are certain state and federal laws that do allow tenants to break leases in some situations.  One situation or circumstance in which a tenant can terminate a lease is when they are the victim of domestic violence.

Some states, but not all, have laws that allow victims of domestic violence to terminate their residential lease.

One state which allows a tenant who is the victim of domestic violence to terminate the lease is the state of Washington.  To legally terminate the lease, the victim must meet two requirements.  The tenant must first notify the landlord in writing that she was a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, unlawful harassment, or stalking.  Then the tenant must also have a valid order for protection or has reported the domestic violence to a qualified third party, who must provide the tenant a signed record of the incident.  The tenant then needs to provide the landlord with either a copy of the order of protection or the report signed by the qualified third party.  The tenant may then terminate the lease and leave the premises without further obligation under the lease agreement.  Although the lease termination law does vary from state to state, the process is similar in most states, though there are those states which require the tenant to be current on their rent and to pay the following month’s rent to be legally released from the lease.

Currently under Florida law, there is no legal basis for a victim of domestic violence to break a lease.  However, due to the volatile nature of the situation, it may be wise for a landlord to release the tenant from the lease.  Even though the tenant may have an order of protection against the perpetrator, this doesn’t ensure the perpetrator will honor the injunction and will stay away from the premises.  He may return to the premise, commit an act of violence upon the victim, who may then hold the landlord accountable for injuries received during the assault.  In Florida, termination of leases on the basis of domestic violence are taken case by case.  It is up to the judge’s discretion, not the law, whether or not the victim will be able to break the lease agreement.


Chad “OchoCinco” Johnson has not had the best thirty days of his life.  As most will remember, last month he was arrested for domestic violence when he allegedly head-butted his wife during an argument, leaving her with a 3-inch gash on her forehead.  Because of the incident, the wide receiver was dropped by the the NFL team, the Miami Dolphins, and his reality TV show was canceled as well.  Johnson’s estranged wife, Evelyn Lozada, filed divorce papers soon  after the domestic violence incident claiming her marriage to be “irretrievably broken,”  but Johnson refused to sign the papers, as, according to TMZ, the former NFL star was attempting to win Lozada back. 

It now appears that Johnson has finally accepted the fact that his marriage to Lozada is over as he filed divorce papers in Florida last Thursday.  The divorce documents he filed show that he too believes his marriage is “irretrievably broken”.  Johnson, however, does not want to pay for Lozada’s legal bills and wants a judge to block his wife’s request that he pay for all of her legal bills and lawyer fees.  He cited a provision in their prenup in which both parties agreed to pay their own way if they were to separate.

Johnson was officially charged with misdemeanor battery for the alleged head-butting of his wife, and last week, although not attending the arraignment, had his lawyer plead not guilty to the charge on his behalf.  If  convicted of the charge, Johnson may be spending one year of his life in jail.


Pinellas County Domestic Violence Task Force members are alarmed by the number of domestic violence-related homicide cases this year.  All ready this year, there have been seven domestic violence-related homicides, which is one more than in all of 2011.  This alarming raise in numbers of domestic violence-related homicides isn’t just occurring in Pinellas County, but other Florida counties, as well.

The spokeswoman with the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Leisa Wiseman, said that her agency has been monitoring the spike in the number of domestic-related homicides, stalking and other violent behavior across the state since 2009.  Members are not sure why numbers have risen, but suspect economic reasons, such as unemployment or foreclosure, or substance abuse, might be playing a role.

The task force is very concerned about another recently discovered statistic; in 69 percent of the 103 cases, loved ones knew about the violence within the relationship, but remained silent.  Frieda Widera, a victim advocate, said that advocates realize some friends and relatives do not want to become involved for fear of retaliation, but stressed that there are safe ways to intervene in a domestic violence relationship.  She stated that “the only way we are going to end domestic homicide is if friends and family and co-workers and neighbors know how to recognize it and intervene.”

Victim advocates state getting help from support groups, shelters and counselors to file restraining orders and create safety plans can greatly reduce the chance of a fatality.  In 89 percent of local domestic fatalities studied by the task force, victims of domestic homicides never had contact with the local domestic violence centers.  Advocates stated this was either because of denial, embarrassment, fear or a lack of knowledge that the centers and resources were available.

Domestic violence destroys families, threatens the well-being of spouses and children, and should not be taken lightly.  If you believe that you or your children may become a victim of domestic violence, immediately contact an experienced domestic violence attorney.