Can I be Prosecuted for Domestic Violence Even Though the Victim Doesn’t Want to Press Charges?
The term “domestic violence” includes a number of different criminal offenses under Florida law, all of which involve a willful act of violence toward someone with whom you lived with as a family or had a romantic relationship within the last six months or any relative, whether by blood or marriage.
Domestic violence may consist of crimes such as battery, assault, stalking, rape, and threats and intimidation. Police officers must write a report when an incidence of domestic violence occurs, and also must make an arrest if sufficient evidence warrants it.
Since the penalties and consequences of domestic violence are severe, even for a first-time offense, you should immediately seek legal advice if you are arrested or charged with domestic violence.
In many cases, a significant other or loved one may soon calm down and realize that he or she doesn’t want you to be charged with domestic violence, be given a criminal record that cannot be sealed for life and impair your earning ability.
People tend to behave irrationally when they are angry and emotional, and it is not uncommon for situations to quickly get out of hand, which sometimes results in false accusations and exaggerated claims.
What happens, however, if you are charged with domestic violence, but your girlfriend no longer wants to cooperate or press charges against you?
Unfortunately, your girlfriend or any alleged victim of a domestic violence incident does not get to decide whether to proceed with criminal charges against you. Even if she later regrets it, she did report to police that you committed an act of domestic violence. That report then goes to the prosecuting attorney’s office for consideration.
If the state decides to file charges against you, the state is the only one who can drop the charges against you.
Nonetheless, the alleged victim of the domestic violence can and does influence how a domestic violence case is resolved, and is often the one who hires the lawyer to help the defendant.
One of a prosecuting attorney’s first steps in a domestic violence case is to contact the victim in order to gather information and get a sense of what evidence she can provide that domestic violence occurred. If a victim – in this case, your girlfriend – is not forthcoming or cooperative, or repeatedly tells the prosecuting attorney that she does not want you to be punished, the prosecuting attorney is likely to at least consider her feelings on the issue.
Also, the prosecutor needs the victim to actually prosecute this case. United States Constitution grants the defendant the right to confront the accuser. If the accuser does not appear for trial, the prosecutor will have a hard time proving the case. That’s why in the negotiation phase, a strong defense attorney with a strong defense may extract a very good plea-bargain from the state which may result in a dismissal of the case.
Also a recanting witness at the time of trial may result in the dismissal of the case before it even goes to trial. A defense attorney can also file a motion to relax or remove the stay away order from the victim early on in the case, allowing daddy to come back home or the husband or boyfriend to have non-violent contact with the alleged victim.
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For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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