DOMESTIC BATTERY ATTORNEY IN WEST PALM BEACH
The officer said because they were called to my home, they had to arrest someone. Is that true?
In the state of Florida, if the police respond to an alleged domestic battery, nine times out of ten, somebody is going to jail. Even if the only evidence is verbal – one person saying the other person hit them – that is usually enough. Just because somebody is arrested, however, has nothing to do with whether there is enough evidence to go forward with a case against them. That is why it is very important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible after being arrested.
What if the alleged victim does not want to press charges against me? What can be done?
The State usually makes the decision whether to file charges within thirty-two (32) days after an arrest is made. Because a no contact order is normally a bond requirement, the accused does not have the ability to contact the alleged victim, either directly or indirectly. If you hire an attorney, however, that person has the right to contact the alleged victim on your behalf. If the alleged victim does not want to press charges, your attorney can get a letter of non-prosecution signed by that person, have it notarized and then give it to the proper filing attorney in the State Attorney’s office. Your attorney can also provide the alleged victim with the phone number and name of the person making the decision whether to file the charges so she can call and let that person know she does not want charges filed. Remember, charges are filed by the State of Florida. It is the State that needs to be contacted with the alleged victim’s wishes, as soon as possible.
What if the alleged victim calls the State and tells them nothing happened? Will she be charged with perjury or lying to an officer?
While there are no 100% guarantees in life or in the justice system when it comes to an outcome, the odds of the State attempting to prosecute an alleged victim for recanting her story when a filing decision is being made is incredibly slim. I have been practicing for almost eleven (11) years and I have never seen it happen.
Can I contact the alleged victim under any circumstances?
Because there will be a no contact order issued by the judge in your case, you will not be able to contact the alleged victim. Neither will any of your friends and family members on your behalf. Any contact would be considered a violation of your bond conditions and could put you back in jail while you case remains open. That is why you need to hire an attorney. Your attorney is permitted to contact the alleged victim on your behalf.
What if charges are filed against me? What happens next?
Your attorney will receive a discovery packet including all police reports, the victim statement, an evidence and witness list and will order any audio, such as a 911 call, to see the entirety of what the State believes they have as evidence. You will go over all the details of the case with your attorney and, more than likely, he will conduct a deposition with the alleged victim. A deposition is a sworn question and answer session that is audio recorded where your attorney asks the alleged victim questions to strengthen your case. And, of course, your attorney will explain all possible defenses, which brings us to the next question …
I only made contact with the person after they hit me. Is that a defense?
Yes, it is. Self-defense is a defense against the State’s case. If someone puts his or her hands on you or attempts to hit you, you have the right to defend yourself. This is one of the most common defenses in a Domestic Battery trial.
I jumped in to protect a family member from being hit. Is that a defense?
Yes, it is. Defense of others is also a defense that can be used when you are trying to protect another from harm. Most times, the person you were trying to protect would be listed as a witness on your behalf to back up your version of events and show how the alleged victim was the aggressor.
If the case goes to trial, will I have to testify?
It depends. If you are using self-defense or defense of others as your defense, odds are you would testify. If your defense is you never touched the person, then many times you would not testify. Your defense would consist of your attorney bringing up inconsistencies with the alleged victim’s story and also pointing out the lack of evidence (i.e. lack of injuries, no witnesses). Keep in mind, the choice whether to testify is completely yours to make. Your attorney will give you advice, but the final decision is up to you.
While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get legal advice for your specific legal issue is to speak to a lawyer.
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Allen Ambrosino has been a member of the Florida Bar Association in good standing since 2006.
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