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How Do You Drop a Domestic Violence Charge in Florida?

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How Do You Drop a Domestic Violence Charge in Florida?

If you are the victim of a Domestic Violence crime in Florida, can you drop the charges?

While the voice of the victim of a crime matters and is influential, it is the State Attorney’s (the prosecutor) determination on whether or not a criminal charge will ultimately be filed or if charges will be dropped.

So what can a victim do to drop domestic battery charges in Florida?

Domestic violence charges include 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.  Most often individuals are arrested for Domestic Battery.

Victims have legal rights in the State of Florida as established by Marsy’s Law which is a victim’s rights law.  Specifically, those victims rights are found in Article I (Declaration of Rights) Section 16 (Rights of accused and of victims) of the Florida Constitution and include:

  • The right to have standing in court
  • The right to be present at all proceedings involving the case
  • The right to be heard in any proceeding during which a right of the victim is implicated including release, plea, sentencing, disposition, parole, revocation, expungement or pardon

Thus, even though the State Attorney has the final word, they must take into consideration the wishes of the victim in the case.

A victim can do the following to influence the State Attorney’s decision on whether or not to file a formal criminal charge (called filing an Information or a No Information):

The victim can make their wishes known in writing:

This can be accomplished by the victim filing a Request Not To Prosecute.  This form can be found at the Clerk of the Court’s office and may be filed in any domestic related criminal case.  The document states that the victim 1) Does not want the Defendant prosecuted; 2) Is not in fear of the Defendant; and 3) Desires contact with the Defendant.

The victim can speak with the State Attorney (prosecutor) and indicate that they do not want the Defendant prosecuted:

In most misdemeanor cases the State Attorney (prosecutor) will call the victim and ask them what happened and what they want to see happen with the case.  In felony cases the victim will be asked to come in person to an interview conducted by the prosecutor.  Here again, the prosector will ask the victim what happened and what outcome they desire in the matter.  Oftentimes a victim who states that nothing like the incident in question has ever happened before and that they do not desire prosecution may influence the prosecutor’s decision and the charges may be dropped.

The victim can hire an attorney to act as a Victim Advocate:

The State Attorney does not represent the victim per se.  The State Attorney represents the interests of the State of Florida.  The case is not The Victim vs. The Defendant - it is The State of Florida vs. The Defendant.  While the State Attorney takes into consideration the victim’s wishes, the prosecutor is not the victim’s attorney.  A victim in a criminal case has a right to hire their own attorney to represent and protect their interests.  Criminal defense attorneys are excellent choices for Victim Advocates in criminal cases as we understand exactly what happens in a criminal case.

Hire a criminal defense attorney to represent the Defendant:

If you are the victim and don’t want to prosecute, you should ensure that the Defendant has a criminal defense attorney.  The criminal defense attorney can interview you (the victim) and ensure that your point of view is properly relayed to the State Attorney.  Critical information you may have as the victim can also be used in defense of the Defendant.  An attorney can also assist with having contact granted between the Defendant and Alleged Victim by requesting a hearing to have the No Contact Order removed.

There are many factors that the State Attorney may take into account when determining whether or not they will drop charges in a domestic violence related case, these include:

  • Whether or not the victim is credible
  • If the victim provided a false statement to law enforcement
  • If the victim was in fact the initial aggressor
  • If the victim was a willing participant in the incident (what is referred to as a mutual brawl)
  • Whether or not the victim has a clear recollection of what happened and if that memory was influenced by alcohol, prescription medications, or drugs
  • If there are factors including family relationships and financial implications that would negatively impact the victim
  • If the victim is not willing to cooperate with prosecution

Your best opportunity for success is to have an attorney advocating for you as early as possible.  With early intervention there is oftentimes an opportunity to have the charges dropped.

Speak to an experienced Domestic Violence Defense Attorney:

If you are the alleged victim and want to drop criminal charges in Florida, or if you have been arrested for Domestic Battery or any type of domestic violence related charge or if you are a victim and need a Victim Advocate, or if you have had an Injunction For Protection Against Domestic Violence filed against you (or if you are the Petitioner), call the Morris Law Firm at 727-388-4736, Option 1 for New Clients for a strategic review of your case and representation.  The Morris Law Firm handles misdemeanor and felony criminal cases throughout the Tampa Bay area and is dedicated to criminal defense.

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