Can Domestic Violence Charges Be Dropped in Florida?

Can Domestic Violence Charges Be Dropped in Florida?
Data estimates that domestic violence affects nearly ten million Americans yearly, making it a public health concern in addition to a criminal offense. Under Florida law (Statute 741.28), domestic violence is “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 member or household member by another family member or household member.” However, in some cases, domestic violence allegations are false, or the offender was in a situation where they needed to use self-defense. In these instances, you would want the prosecutor to drop the charges against you to keep your criminal record clean. To learn more about dropping domestic violence charges in Florida or what you can do about them, keep reading.

What Happens if a Victim Wants to Drop Charges in Florida?

The short answer is that they can’t. The state of Florida’s criminal justice system doesn’t allow an alleged victim of domestic violence alone to have the charges against an alleged abuser dropped. The state can still pursue a case even if the victim doesn’t want to press charges. However, this doesn’t mean the victim doesn’t have other options. First, they can file an affidavit stating they wish to drop the charges. The prosecutor doesn’t have to follow the victim’s wishes, but the state will consider it. The victim’s input has a significant impact on the prosecutor’s decision to do the following:
  • Drop a case
  • File a case
  • Negotiate a settlement
The victim can also recant (or take back) their statement. However, if the victim gave the statement under oath, this could have serious repercussions.

What Is an Arraignment?

An arraignment is a formal court hearing where the prosecutor files charges (if any) against the defendant. Having a criminal defense lawyer by your side for an arraignment is always ideal because they can offer legal advice on how to proceed and develop a comprehensive defense strategy for a criminal case.

Getting Charges Dropped During an Arraignment

It’s uncommon for a judge to drop the criminal charges against you during an arraignment. This is because they lack the authority to do so. To get domestic violence charges dropped in Florida, your defense attorney must negotiate with the prosecutor. Only the prosecutor has the authority to drop the charges at an arraignment.

How to Get Charges Dropped for Domestic Violence

Disclaimer: The information here does not constitute legal advice. For advice regarding your specific case, contact a criminal defense lawyer. There’s a small window of opportunity before an arraignment in an attempt to convince the State Attorney’s office to drop the charges. This can happen when the criminal case is in “non-filed status.” If you cannot negotiate with the prosecution before the arraignment, the next best option is to try to do so afterward. In any case, work with an experienced criminal defense attorney from a reputable law firm. They can negotiate with the state and/or present more information to convince them to drop the charges. For example, if there’s sufficient information to prove false allegations of domestic violence, your lawyer can present it to the State Attorney at any time.

Dropping Domestic Violence Charges in Florida After the Arraignment

Even if you have an arraignment hearing, the prosecutor may still drop the charges before your next official court proceedings. By following these steps, you may increase your chances that the prosecutor will drop the charges:
  • Ask for witness testimonies that prove your innocence or offer contradictory stories to the state’s case.
  • Collect proof of your innocence, or that undermines the case.
  • Consult with a domestic violence defense attorney like Mike G Law about the validity of the state’s evidence against you.
  • Negotiate with the prosecution.
  • Present mitigating elements such as cooperation with police, evidence of rehabilitation, or a lack of criminal history.
  • Submit pre-trial options, such as a move to dismiss, if law enforcement used improper methods to collect evidence or violated your rights.
If you and your lawyer can show you’re innocent, that law enforcement violated your rights, or that you’re taking steps to improve yourself, you might have a better chance that the prosecution will drop the charges against you.

What Could Happen if Domestic Violence Charges Are Not Dropped

If the state files the charges, that doesn’t mean it can’t drop them at some point. The difference is that the case will be “nolle prosequi,” which means the prosecutor voluntarily ends the case after filing charges. However, a Florida domestic violence conviction is also possible if the state continues the case. Domestic violence battery is a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. The penalties are as follows:
  • Up to one year in prison
  • Up to one year of probation
  • A maximum fine of $1,000
More serious domestic violence crimes, such as aggravated battery and aggravated assault, are felony charges. The penalties for these crimes range from 5 to 15 years in prison. A felony charge on your criminal history will significantly impact the rest of your life. Further, Florida Statute 741.30 allows victims to file an injunction against the alleged abuser for protection against domestic violence. Thus, the court can issue a no-contact order, making it illegal for the alleged offender to contact the victim. Those convicted may also have to participate in a Batterer Intervention & Prevention Program (BIPP). This differs from an anger management program, as it focuses on accountability, education, and victim safety instead of only anger. The National Domestic Violence Hotline says BIPPs are much more effective in changing abusive behavior. In the end, because of the numerous penalties that come with losing a domestic violence case, it‘s in your best interest to hire a criminal defense attorney to defend you.

Get the Help You Need With Mike G Law

Dealing with the fallout from a domestic violence arrest is stressful. Fortunately, it’s possible to negotiate with the prosecution about dropping domestic violence charges in Florida. If you or a loved one is facing a domestic violence charge, get help now by contacting the law office of Mike G Law for a free consultation. Mike G Law has worked on both the prosecution and defense sides of the law for over 25 years. As a former prosecutor, Mike G has ample negotiation and criminal trial experience. Our office location is as follows: 1005 N Marion St. #118 Tampa, FL, 33602 (813) 221-4303

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