Monday, February 18, 2013

WHY MUST OFFICERS INVESTIGATING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN FLORIDA ALWAYS MAKE AN ARREST

Your favorite Clearwater criminal defense lawyer was recently asked this question about domestic violence:
I was arrested for a Battery against my girlfriend in Tampa Bay, Florida. We were both fighting not just me. We have a child together. We were going to get married, but put it off until this is behind us. She has signed a Request Not to Prosecute. I'm wondering if the State of Florida decides not to prosecute me can they still bring the charges back up in the future if she changes her mind and wants me prosecuted? How long do I have to wait to be certain that charges won't be filed? If charges are filed against me what will happen?
Abbasi's Painting of Two Lovers so tranquil and languid before the domestic violence of a battery or assault which in Tampa Bay, Florida could be resolved without either lover going to jail.
Reza Abbasi, Two Lovers, 1630
The first consideration for law enforcement is the safety of your girlfriend as well as the child. Under Florida law whenever domestic violence is alleged, officers by law must make an arrest of someone in the home if any evidence of a battery or assault is found. Why was this enacted?
Because more officers are killed while investigating domestic violence than in any other type of investigation they undertake. 
Think about that, more than in burglaries, robberies and grand thefts. When officers are called to any domestic violence situation they are well aware of the risks as well as the fact that domestic violence affects a large portion of the American population.
Recent domestic violence statistics establish that the problem is pervasive with nearly 25% of women and 7% of men being the victim of an assault or battery by a spouse, co-habitating partner or date. 
When any crime is committed in Florida, the State of Florida views itself as being an interested party. In practice this means that even when a victim does not want to prosecute a case, the State of Florida can proceed with prosecution. Other than the statute of limitations there is no legal limit to how long prosecutors can take to make a filing decision.
If charges are filed against you and if you don't have any prior criminal record, then you may be able to apply for a diversionary program such as Pretrial Intervention where the charges will eventually be dismissed. Tampa Bay recently established a new Domestic Violence Court in Pinellas where the focus will include counseling with Batterer Intervention Programs rather than simply giving jail.
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