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Florida woman's arrest stirs national debate over domestic abuse

The arrest of a Florida woman in a domestic abuse case has stirred a national debate about problems in the judicial system because the woman who was arrested was the victim of violence, not the perpetrator. What happened?

The 32-year-old woman got into an argument with her estranged 35-year-old husband. When she tried to leave his apartment, her husband followed her and ultimately drove his vehicle into hers -- forcing her off the road in a harrowing incident of rage and abuse.

He was arrested on a domestic aggravated battery charge. Under the law, that meant he was supposed to turn over any firearms in his possession to the police while his case was pending. That law is designed to protect the victims of domestic violence from being further victimized. Believing that he wouldn't turn over his weapons voluntarily, the woman went back to his apartment, retrieved his firearms and brought them to the police for safekeeping.

That is when she was arrested. Since she admitted that she had entered her husband's apartment and took the guns without his consent, the officer decided to arrest her for armed robbery and grand theft. Her husband spent the night in jail, but she spent six nights locked up. The prosecutor is still deciding whether the state will prosecute her.

This situation has re-ignited the controversy surrounding federal domestic violence laws that are supposed to protect victims, but are often not enforced without intense outside pressure. Local law enforcement officers often claim that they simply don't have the manpower to enforce the laws regarding gun possession every time domestic violence is alleged.

Cases like this may illustrate a national problem, but all domestic violence situations are unique to the people involved. It's wise to get legal assistance when you're in that situation. Otherwise, you could end up making a mistake that will cost you.

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