If the police find any evidence of violence when they arrive for a domestic dispute–whether it be the victim’s word or just a knocked-over piece of furniture–someone will be arrested. The person who was arrested will not be allowed out of jail for any reason until he or she sees a judge (usually within 24 hours of being arrested). The judge may allow him or her to leave jail, but with a catch. For example, the person might be put under house arrest, have a GPS attached to his/her ankle, or be given an “exclusionary zone” that he or she is not allowed to enter. If a larger trial takes place, the state of Florida will be the one to press charges against an assumed abuser, not the victim. The assumed victim will be considered no more than a witness, even if no violence has actually taken place.
If you or a loved one is involved in a domestic violence case in Florida, e-mail an attorney at The Defense Group or call us at 407-831-1956 to schedule a free consultation. In case of emergency, we are available 24 hours a day, and we are able to make nighttime and weekend appointments if needed.
“Many of the clients that we represent are clients that were just involved in a domestic dispute, an argument, a shouting contest, that got a little bit out of hand, but not enough for someone to go to jail. But there is, however, a political aspect to this. That is, that the police have taken the position, for reasons that we kind of understand historically, that if they receive a call to a domestic violence call and they show up and there’s any evidence whatsoever, I don’t care if it’s a neighbor claiming they heard a lot of screaming, there’s a lamp knocked over, there’s not a bruise, there’s no blood and there’s not even a complaining witness, the person who is believed to be the victim is saying no, no, no, you misunderstand, somebody is going go to jail.
They’re not going to be allowed out of jail until they see a judge at what’s called first appearance. You’re entitled to see a judge within 24 hours of being arrested. You’re not bonding out before that. Your brother’s not coming to bond you out, so you can go back and take that out on whoever you think got you arrested. When you see the judge and he gets a chance to read the report, he then decides okay, I’m going to let you out but I’m going to put a GPS on your ankle, or I’m going to put you on home confinement, or I’m going to give you an exclusionary zone. You can’t go within the 500 feet of the following places, including whoever the alleged victim is, and your bond is a certain amount, or whatever. Once the judge decides that, the cops are off the hook. They did their job by putting someone in jail.
Special prosecutors are frequently assigned to do domestic violence prosecutions. They have their marching orders. Don’t give these away, and don’t allow the victim to come in and drop the charges. The victim’s not bringing the charges, the State of Florida is bringing the charges. The victim is just a witness. If they’re not a complaining witness, we want to turn them into a complaining witness. We want them to cooperate with us in prosecuting this person who is guilty of domestic violence, in the eyes of the state. Frequently you’ll have a victim, a legitimate victim, who is so afraid of the person who’s been arrested, they run down and try to drop the charges. Perhaps you’ve got a woman who has got a couple of children. She’s financially dependent upon the person who’s beating her up and therefore wants the charges dropped so that he won’t throw her and the kids in the street. Those are legitimate domestic violence charges and there’s a need for prosecution on those.
What has happened, though, is in order to protect the community from those kinds of folks, there’s been a pretty terrible over-reaction. Neighbor hears two people yelling and screaming. Guess what? Married couples, boyfriends, girlfriends, sometimes yell and scream and fight. They sometimes may even push and shove a little bit, but they do so with kind of an agreement. You know, you can’t hit me with a weapon, you can’t make me bleed, but we can yell and shout and push a little bit. You’ll still go to jail for that. Yet, perhaps there was no offense actually being committed. But the police, because of the politics, put ’em in jail. Sometimes the prosecution, because of the politics, file the charges. We’re then called upon to come in and help sort that out. ”