Can a Domestic Violence Victim Drop Charges in Florida?
Unfortunately, it is a quite common scenario: an individual will seriously injure his or her spouse in a domestic dispute and the victim, a family member, or a well-meaning neighbor will contact the police. The police will arrest the offender and charge them with domestic violence. While the victim should be happy that their abuser is being reprimanded for his or her violent actions, the opposite is usually the case: the victim will worry about what will become of their spouse and try to protect them by having the charges dropped. Fortunately, the state does not allow a victim to do so.
Crimes Are Governed By the State, Not the Victim
Many victims of a crime mistakenly assume that they have the right to press charges or drop charges as they see fit, but the truth is that they really have no control over who is issued criminal charges. Once the police arrest an individual and charge them with a criminal offense, the crime is no longer in the hands of the victim. Crimes are governed by the state, and as such, the state is the only entity that has the rights to press and drop charges.
With that in mind, even though the State Prosecutor’s Office will ultimately decide whether or not to move forward with criminal charges, the victim will play an important role in how the outcome of the case is decided.
The Victim’s Role in the Case
The victim of domestic violence is the strongest piece of evidence that a state prosecutor has against the abuser, and as such, has the potential to make or break a case. Typically, a victim of domestic violence will be asked to testify against his or her abuser. While they may decline to testify, doing so could result in a fine or even criminal charges. In criminal cases, the Fifth Amendment does not protect an individual’s right to refuse to testify.
In addition to being asked to testify, the victim of domestic violence may also be called into court to give their opinion on whether or not the abuser should be released and why they feel that way. They may be asked to submit certain documents, such as medical records and photographic evidence, for the prosecutor’s use.
The Victim’s Role Does Not Always Have to be Passive
The victim of domestic violence does not have to take a passive role against his or her abuser, and can file a civil lawsuit against them for monetary compensation to pay for medical expenses from personal injuries, lost wages, psychological trauma, and even cost of living. The victim also has the option to file a restraining order, or protective injunction, against his or her abuser to ensure that they will not come near them again.
Consult with a Boca Raton Domestic Violence Attorney
At the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, we want to protect you and your loved ones from a violent abuser. If you are the victim of domestic violence and are ready to make a change for the better, look into filing a protective injunction against your abuser, or even filing a civil suit against him or her. To learn more about your legal options, consult with our Boca Raton domestic violence attorneys. Contact our family law firm at 561.391.9943 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation today.