According to NBC Miami, a veteran City of Miami police officer was recently arrested and charged with one count of battery, and one count of battery by strangulation.
Battery is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of 364 days in county jail. Battery by strangulation is a third-degree felony, punishable by a maximum of 5 years in state prison.
It is alleged that these offenses were committed against the wife of the officer, making this an alleged act of domestic violence.
Domestic violence cases are almost always handled by experienced domestic violence prosecutors. Both the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office and the Broward State Attorney's Office have specialized domestic violence divisions, at both the felony and misdemeanor levels. Everything about a domestic violence case is different than a non-domestic violence case, including the plea offers. Almost all domestic violence plea offers include anger management classes or some form of batterers' intervention.
In non-domestic cases, prosecutors will typically drop charges if essential witnesses or alleged victims are not on board with the prosecution. In DV cases, prosecutors follow a strict "no drop" policy, which means that they will make all efforts to prosecute, even without an alleged victim to testify.
The law as it stands today allows prosecutors some leeway in presenting evidence to a jury in a DV case. If there are independent witnesses, photos, surveillance videos, or some independent proof of a crime, prosecutors can often put on their cases without an alleged victim. For instance, if a woman makes a hysterical call to 911, officers arrive and take photographs of her black and blue eye, the 911 tape, the photos, and the officers' testimonies will be enough for the State to proceed without the testimony of an alleged victim.
That's because the law will usually permit the introduction of a 911 tape or other voice recording into evidence without the corroborating testimony of the caller so long as the caller's voice is excited or frantic. The theory behind this excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule is that a statement made in the midst of a highly stressful situation is more likely to be authentic than one made where the speaker has time to contemplate what they will say. This exception was carved out specifically to permit prosecution when alleged victims were not cooperating with the State.
Many people charged with DV crimes, as well as those who are the alleged victims of them, mistakenly believe that without the testimony of an alleged victim, the State cannot prosecute. This is incorrect and often leads people to make poor decisions. Mark my words - in every DV case, the State will seek to go forward no matter what. It's up to the criminal defense attorney to stop the prosecution.
If you or a loved one are facing domestic violence charges in Miami-Dade or Broward, call today.