Declination of Prosecution
What is a Declination of Prosecution? A declination is a piece of paper, signed by the victim in the case, that states that the victim declines prosecution. In other words, the declination sends a message to the state that they have no desire to press charges and want the case to go away.
- The Effect of a Declination: It may seem logical that if a declination of prosecution is filed, then the case goes away, right? Unfortunately it is not always so easy. In a criminal case, it’s not the victim vs. the Defendant. Instead, it’s the Defendant vs. the State of Florida. In other words, even if the victim wants the case to go away that doesn’t mean the state has to listen to the victim. The state can force the case forward even if the victim is uncooperative.
- Tools the state has: The State can attempt to subpoena the victim and get the judge to issue a rule to show cause against the victim. By issuing a subpoena and then following it up with a rule to show cause, the state is basically saying, “you must show up otherwise I’m going to try and put you in jail until your testimony is taken.
- What a criminal defense lawyer can do with a declination of prosecution: A lawyer can take a signed declination of prosecution and file it with the clerk’s office. This is opposed to the giving it to the State Attorney. The reason why it’s more beneficial to have your lawyer file the declination is so that it’s public record that the victim doesn’t want the state to move forward. As opposed to a piece of paper sitting in the state’s desk for nobody to see. A public acknowledge of the victim’s wishes goes a lot further than simply handing a paper to the state attorney.
- A Declination can be used as evidence: A declination is signed and under oath. It also includes a spot where the victim can write her account of what happened. In other words, if the victim says something such as “This event never occurred” there is now a memorialized version of the victim admitting that the event never took place. In other words, the victim has now given an inconsistent statement. The State’s key witness just became useless with a single piece of paper.
- In Sum: Declination of Prosecution can be a powerful tool if used by an experienced attorney who knows what to do with them. It doesn’t guarantee the case will go away, but it goes a long way in helping with that cause.