Can You Drop a Domestic Violence Charge Against Someone?

I’m Gary Schwartz, one of the attorneys with Umansky law firm. We’re going to talk a little bit about domestic violence. We got a question: My kid’s father got arrested for domestic violence no one was hurt, I don’t want to prosecute will he be released?

There’s an order that—it’s actually a statutory rule in Florida that if you got arrested for domestic violence you got to be held without bond for 24 hours. The reason is, they’re supposed to cool off that gives the person who’s incarcerated a cool off time and it gives time for the victim—the alleged victim to make arrangements to leave and get their stuff out of there, if they want to.

After that you will be entitled to a bond on a misdemeanor domestic violence charges long as you’re not in a violation or probation status. With regards to the victim’s desire to go forward or not go forward, what we typically have the victims do is, if they’re comfortable with it we’ll have asked them to fill out a declination of prosecution, which is an affidavit saying I’m not scared I don’t want to go forward, we get that to the state.

Can You Drop a Domestic Violence Charge Against Someone?

There are specialized domestic violence prosecutors in most of the State Attorney’s Office in Central Florida and they’re giving marching orders to make it difficult for victims to drop charges and they don’t have to. If they feel like they can prove a domestic violence case without the victim’s cooperation they will go forward typically. Or the other thing they’ll do is they’ll play hardball and say, look we’re going to subpoena you to court and if you don’t come we can come after you for contempt of court, or if you change your story that’s perjury and we can come after you like that they really play hardball which is a shame.

There’s an argument that is the State Attorney’s Office or are the prosecutors re-victimizing the victims shouldn’t they have control of their lives and be able to determine whether or not they go forward with the case or not? There was a policy arguments, I think there’s a strong argument either way, but the truth is it’s not a guarantee. If you are the victim in the case and you want the case to go away, that the case is going to go away.

There’s issues with regards to who needs to hire a lawyer. If you’re the victim in the case, realistically you can’t hire an attorney for the defendant in the case because there’s a potential conflict of interest, so that makes it difficult in these cases. Really, if you are the victim and you want the case to go away it’s important that the defendant in the case have good counsel to try to make sure that that happens.