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Domestic Violence: Prosecuting Without A Victim

One of the biggest mistakes people make when charged with a domestic violence crime is assuming that just because the alleged victim doesn't want to prosecute, the State Attorney will automatically drop the case.

That is wrong and those who subscribe to that belief may find themselves in trouble. Florida has a "no drop" policy when it comes to domestic violence prosecutions. That means that prosecutors will go forward on any domestic violence case that they can prove - or attempt to prove - without the testimony of the alleged victim.

So how do they do it?

Independent witnesses (non-victim eyewitnesses), photographs, video, frantic 911 recordings...any of those things can help the State to prosecute a person for a domestic violence crime without the aid of the alleged victim.

If the alleged victim made a 911 call in an excited state and the responding police officers took photos of injuries, those two pieces of evidence - the 911 tape and the photos - are enough for the State to put on a case. The alleged victim need not testify as to what may have happened or how they received the injuries. The State is free to introduce those pieces of evidence and submit their arguments to the jury.

Prosecutors will push forward on domestic violence cases where they feel they can go forward without the alleged victim. However, this will not prevent prosecutors from threatening alleged victims or even sending investigators to their homes in order to intimidate them into coming to court.

Most domestic violence cases involved alleged victims who don't want to testify. Don't believe for a second that the State will simply drop your's just because the alleged victim has stated that he/she won't be coming into court.

Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade and Broward. If you or a loved one are facing felony or misdemeanor domestic violence charges, call me.