Domestic violence crimes tend to be very one-sided in favor of the accusing party. When police are called to a domestic abuse call, it is not unusual for the accused to get taken to jail. This is hardly surprising when you consider that it is often easy to determine who the aggressor was, but what about when a person is arrested based merely on what their partner said to the police? That is, after all, a subjective account, and there may be scant evidence to support the charges.
It is essential to speak with an experienced Miami domestic violence attorney to make sure you understand the many details of Florida law. These cases typically involve a few common questions, so let us examine these in order.
What is domestic violence?
Florida Statute 741.28 defines domestic violence as any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.
What if the victim does not want to press charges?
Short answer: unfortunately, it doesn't matter. The prosecution will still move forward with the case if they have independent evidence that can prove a crime was committed. Consider that there may be an eyewitness or a recording of the incident, or pictures and incriminating statements that the victim made to the police. Any evidence that can be used to prove the case with or without the victim can be used to get you convicted.
If the victim still wants charges dropped, generally the case will be resolved much sooner and more favorably to the accused. The Sixth Amendment dictates that the accused has a right to confront witnesses at trial, including the victim. If the victim doesn't show, the prosecution is very limited in introducing statements made by the victim. These statements must not be “testimonial,” meaning the emergency must still have been taking place when the statements were made.
What are some possible resolutions to my case?
The most likely outcome to your case aside from getting the charges dropped is that you will be required to attend a diversion program. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, the program is called Pre-Trial Diversion (PTD); if it's a felony, the program is called Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI). Your attorney will explain these distinctions to you, but the upshot is simple: in both cases, the victim must approve the program, and the program will include a psychological-educational counseling session that will likely last 26 weeks. You may also receive additional requirements, including:
- Drug and alcohol treatment
- Parenting course
- Community service hours
- Community control (house arrest)
- Jail, if your past criminal history dictates a stiffer penalty
Once you've completed the full program, your charges will be dismissed, and you are eligible to expunge or seal your record.
However, this only applies if you do not have a prior record. If you do have a previous record, then probation is a likely result. Jail is also possible if the case warrants it or if the person has an extensive prior criminal history.
I began my law career as a prosecutor, and I handled domestic violence cases on a regular basis and prosecuted hundreds of cases before I left to begin my private practice. I know these cases very well and know how destructive they can be to the family unit. If you are looking for an experienced, competent, and compassionate lawyer who understands the nuances of Florida law and how best to protect your interests, do not hesitate to contact me today. I can quickly provide you with more specific information that may provide immediate relief.