You may be thinking that if the alleged victim in your domestic violence case doesn’t want to press charges (or prosecute) that you’ll be in the clear. That is a very common misconception in domestic battery cases and one that could put you at risk of severe and long-lasting consequences. See, once a battery case enters the domestic violence division, it is up to the State Attorney’s Office whether to pursue criminal charges. Meaning it’s the prosecutor and not the alleged victim that decides what happens to the case once an arrest has been made.
In Miami, the State Attorney’s Office is very aggressive in pursuing domestic violence charges in criminal court with or without a victim. One can see that if a victim is not cooperating it could very well mean that they have no interest in pressing charges or having the case prosecuted. It could also mean that the incident was blown out of proportion and things may not have transpired the way they were initially reported. Or the parties have reconciled now that everyone has calmed down.
However, from a policy standpoint the prosecutor is cautious as it could also mean that the victim is scared to cooperate by helping them move the case forward or, even worse, is being threatened or intimidated by the defendant to “drop the charges.”
Even though the prosecutor is the one that files charges and decides whether to dismiss a battery case, the victim does still have an impact on the case. In domestic violence cases the prosecutor will attempt to contact the victim in order to get a statement from them and also to discuss how the victim would like the case to be resolved.
Common sense would tell you that it is more difficult for the State to prove its case and move forward if the victim is not cooperating than if the victim is 100% on board. However, many domestic violence cases can go from bad to worse because of the mistaken belief that all will be fine simply because the victim is “not pressing charges.” Prosecutors can go forward with or without a victim and oftentimes continue to push cases where other evidence (i.e. reports, statements, 911 calls or photographs) supports the charge. Meaning that a victim's lack of cooperation does not mean that the State will drop the charges against you.
What Should You Do?
First, you SHOULD NOT try to contact (or influence) the alleged victim in any way. Your Stay Away Order prohibits you from not only coming within 500 feet of their residence, job, school, etc. but it also prevents you from having any type of contact (direct or indirect). Contacting the alleged victim could lead to your bond being revoked and being thrown in jail. It can also bring more criminal charges such as violating an injunction or no contact order or witness tampering.
If you are charged with domestic violence and you have a reason to believe that the alleged victim does not want to prosecute, press charges or cooperate with the prosecutor, consult an attorney. An experienced criminal defense lawyer in Miami will be able to handle this on your behalf and knows how to proceed when the victim doesn’t want to.
If you have questions about your Domestic Violence charge and would like more information, you can download a FREE copy of Daniel Izquierdo's special report, He Said, She Said: Three Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Domestic Violence Case in Florida from our website. If you are here today because you feel frustrated about a domestic violence battery charge and it is disrupting your life, we should talk. You can also contact us to set up a Free 4-Point Case Evaluation and Defense Strategy Session with me by first calling (305) 707-7345. The sooner we talk, the sooner you will have clarity on what you face—and just a little clarity can take away a lot of the stress.