Here’s what you need to do if you don’t want to press charges in a domestic violence situation?
By Criminal Defense Attorney Luz Root
In cases of domestic violence, the victim is the person accusing the defendant of the crime.
If you don’t consider yourself a victim of domestic violence, but the police named you as a victim in your partner/spouse’s arrest and you want to get the charges dropped, please keep reading.
“I told the police I didn’t want my partner to get arrested, but they arrested them anyways.”
Sometimes people call the police asking for help because their partners are having a mental health breakdown, or maybe because they are needing mediation on a verbal argument. However, when police respond to a domestic violence dispute, the odds are they are going to make an arrest, whether you want it or not.
So now your partner/spouse is in jail, and you want to get them back home. This is when you need to immediately contact an attorney.
“How do I get them out of jail?”
By Florida law, if someone is arrested, they must see a judge within 24 hours. This is called “Initial Appearance.” If someone is arrested for Domestic Violence, the accused is required to be at the Initial Appearance hearing; the accused cannot be released on bond prior to the hearing.
At Initial Appearance, the judge reviews the facts and determines whether a bond is going to be granted and what the bond amount would be. They also determine whether someone accused of domestic violence can return home or have contact with the named victim.
Don’t miss your opportunity at Initial Appearance
If a victim doesn’t attend the initial appearance, the judge must order the accused not to return home and not to have any contact with the victim.
If a victim attends, the attorney will help them speak to the judge. This is when we ask the judge to allow the accused to return home and to have non-hostile contact with the victim.
Unfortunately, some victims don’t know this, and they miss their opportunity at Initial Appearance.
“I didn’t know I had to attend the Initial Appearance hearing and I want them home.”
If the named victim missed the Initial Appearance, then there is an absolute no-contact order and a no-return to the residence. How do you get this removed? If you haven’t retained an attorney yet, this is another reminder to retain representation. An attorney would be able to petition the court to modify the conditions of release and ask the court to allow the accused to return home and to have contact with the victim.
Please keep in mind you cannot petition the court to modify the conditions if the case is not open on the court’s website! This is when the nightmare begins…
Depending on the county, a new case can take days or even weeks to be opened and processed on the court’s website. Once it is finally opened, they assigned a State Attorney to the case. This could also mean a delay, as the State Attorney must review the case and they cannot give you an answer until they speak with the victim. Then we would help the victim file the appropriate documents asking the charges to be dropped.
At this point, the victim may feel frustrated with the system who should be helping them. The accused can’t return home and the family could be spending hundreds of dollars in hotel rooms. Families with children may have trouble with childcare, and so on.
You don’t need to go through all the stress. If your partner or spouse has been arrested for domestic violence and you want to drop the charges, call us immediately, we are available 24/7, and offer payment plans.