A myth that frequently makes the rounds among those being charged with a domestic violence crime is the belief that they won’t face consequences for their actions or become entangled in the criminal justice system if their victims refuse to press charges. There seems to be a widespread misunderstanding that somehow, victims of domestic violence hold the power when it comes to deciding whether or not the State of Florida should pursue these types of crimes. When it comes to domestic battery in Florida, there is no truth to that. Domestic violence victims cannot prevent the State from pressing charges against their abusers.
Investigating Domestic Violence
From the time the police are called to a domestic violence situation, there is a heavy pro-prosecution mentality. Whether the alleged victim, another family member, or neighbor called the police, there is no turning back once law enforcement arrives. More often than not, someone is walking away in handcuffs.
Victims who sustain injuries from domestic violence abusers often do not wish to see their spouses in legal trouble. Many call out of fear, anger, or spite, and don’t realize the consequences of their action before it is too late. When police arrive, file a report, and issue charges, the incident becomes a case the State of Florida must investigate.
Gathering Evidence of Domestic Violence
There are laws on the books defining domestic violence offenses as crimes; therefore, state attorneys must take action against alleged perpetrators. The prosecuting attorney in a domestic violence case decides whether or not to prosecute the case and may choose to do so even if a victim does not wish to press charges or refuses to cooperate with the prosecution. The prosecution attorney will typically pursue charges when sufficient evidence exists to support his case.
Evidence may be challenging to acquire in domestic violence situations. A domestic violence defense lawyer may be able to request that certain types of evidence not be used at trial, or challenge other types of evidence the State has against the defendant. Domestic violence acts are criminal actions that may not remain private matters once police become involved. Since it is the prosecuting attorney who files charges, only he or she may dismiss them. Under no circumstance does a victim have any authority to press or drop charges; however, working with an attorney may facilitate persuading a prosecutor to drop charges.
Dismissing Domestic Violence Charges
Prosecuting attorneys may use discretion when deciding whether to file motions to dismiss domestic violence charges; but, they are rarely ever swayed to take this action. In general, prosecuting attorneys file motions to dismiss these cases upon the determination that available evidence is unreliable or they anticipate difficulty in proving the elements of the charge. A prosecuting attorney may also drop some charges as part of a plea deal with the defendant. This may occur when the defendant pleads guilty to the charges against him, which has long-term ramifications.
If you find yourself facing charges for domestic violence battery, your criminal defense lawyer will likely do everything possible to have your charges dropped or to prevent you from entering a guilty plea. An attorney is a valuable asset to any domestic violence case as he or she can uncover all the evidence in your case to help you avoid the worst penalties possible.
Potential Penalties for Domestic Battery
Domestic battery is a first-degree misdemeanor offense in the state of Florida. This means that someone charged with this crime could face:
- Up to a year in jail
- Up to 12 months of probation
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Other mandatory penalties
While less severe than felony offenses, some misdemeanor offenses can do considerable damage. Domestic battery charges will likely show up on an employment background check; and, even if you are never convicted, the charges may not be expunged nor sealed in Florida.
Working with a Domestic Battery Defense Lawyer
Don’t delay in seeking strong legal representation for your domestic violence case. If you face a charge of domestic battery or a related charge, you may help your case by getting a defense attorney in West Palm Beach involved early. Attorney Brian Gabriel is a criminal defense attorney in Palm Beach County with over 30 years of experience who will protect your interests throughout the entire legal process. Call 561-622-5575 for a free consultation.