The following article will cover:
Domestic violence in Florida is defined as a crime designation that signifies a domestic relationship between the accused and the alleged victim. This relationship distinguishes these crimes from others. The most common domestic violence charge is domestic violence battery, defined as the unwanted touching or striking of another person, with “unwanted” implying it was against their will.
The domestic violence designation can be applied to numerous crimes, including assault, battery, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other criminal offense causing physical injury or death to a family or household member.
The definition has been expanded over the years to encompass individuals in dating relationships, those who have children in common (regardless of whether they’re in a romantic relationship), and individuals who live together as a family.
The exact nature of a domestic violence charge can vary, as the term “domestic violence” is a designation added to other criminal offenses. The common thread in these charges is the presence of a violent act committed against a person with whom the accused shares a domestic relationship.
This typically includes family members, household members, spouses, former spouses, people related by blood or marriage, individuals currently living or having previously lived together as a family, or individuals who share a child, regardless of whether they were ever married.
While a restraining order is not automatically imposed when someone is charged with a domestic violence-related offense in Florida, it is commonplace for a judge to impose a no-contact order at the initial appearance. When someone is arrested for domestic violence, they are not allowed to immediately post bail, unlike those charged with other crimes.
Instead, they must appear in front of a judge who determines the appropriate bond and bond conditions. This judge not only decides the monetary amount of your bond but also whether a no-contact order should be put in place. Generally, in domestic violence cases, a no-contact order is often imposed.
However, if the alleged victim testifies under oath at the initial appearance that they are not in fear of the accused, wish to maintain contact, and want the person back in the house, the judge may adjust the no-contact order to a non-hostile contact order. This permits contact but disallows any form of hostility, mandating that the interaction must remain civil.
If a more permanent no-contact order is desired, the alleged victim must separately apply through the court for an injunction. This entails filing a petition for the issuance of an injunction for protection against domestic violence. This case is handled by a different judge, and if the petitioner can prove they are in fear of domestic violence, the judge may issue a permanent injunction providing a more enduring no-contact order for protection against the defendant.
Not necessarily. The decision to proceed with or drop criminal charges lies entirely within the discretion of the state attorney’s office, the prosecutors. If the alleged victim tells the prosecutor they wish to withdraw their statement, express that the incident was a misunderstanding, or request the charges be dropped, it could significantly influence the likelihood of the prosecutor deciding to drop the case. However, it’s important to understand that the final decision rests with the prosecutor.
In a civil lawsuit, the complainant can drop their lawsuit whenever they wish since they initiated it. Conversely, in a criminal prosecution, the charges are brought forth by the state of Florida through the state attorneys and their assistant state attorneys. They alone can decide to drop a case.
While they are constitutionally obligated under the Florida Constitution to hear the victims and consider their perspectives, they are not required to heed the victim’s advice. However, if the alleged victim repeatedly expresses their wish to drop the case, prosecutors often take this into account and may agree to drop the case. It is crucial to note that this outcome is not automatic.
If you believe that the alleged victim wishes to have the charges dropped, it’s crucial to hire an experienced attorney. Your attorney can draft a ‘declination of prosecution’ affidavit, which they can send to the alleged victim. Since no-contact orders often prevent direct communication between you and the alleged victim, your attorney can act as the intermediary as these orders do not apply to them.
The attorney can reach out to the alleged victim, discuss the case, understand their position, and if the alleged victim indicates their wish to have the charges dropped, the attorney can draft a ‘declination of prosecution’ affidavit. Once signed and notarized by the alleged victim, this can be filed with the court to officially notify the prosecutor and the court that the alleged victim is formally requesting to have the charges dropped. For more information on Domestic Violence Charges In Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step.