WHY MUST OFFICERS INVESTIGATING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN FLORIDA ALWAYS MAKE AN ARREST

Your favorite Clearwater criminal defense lawyer was recently asked this question about domestic violence:

I was arrested for a Battery against my girlfriend in Tampa Bay, Florida. We were both fighting not just me. We have a child together. We were going to get married, but put it off until this is behind us. She has signed a Request Not to Prosecute. I’m wondering if the State of Florida decides not to prosecute me can they still bring the charges back up in the future if she changes her mind and wants me prosecuted? How long do I have to wait to be certain that charges won’t be filed? If charges are filed against me what will happen?

Abbasi's Painting of Two Lovers so tranquil and languid before the domestic violence of a battery or assault which in Tampa Bay, Florida could be resolved without either lover going to jail.
Reza Abbasi, Two Lovers, 1630

The first consideration for law enforcement is the safety of your girlfriend as well as the child. Under Florida law whenever domestic violence is alleged, officers by law must make an arrest of someone in the home if any evidence of a battery or assault is found. Why was this enacted?
Because more officers are killed while investigating domestic violence than in any other type of investigation they undertake. 
Think about that, more than in burglaries, robberies and grand thefts. When officers are called to any domestic violence situation they are well aware of the risks as well as the fact that domestic violence affects a large portion of the American population.
Recent domestic violence statistics establish that the problem is pervasive with nearly 25% of women and 7% of men being the victim of an assault or battery by a spouse, co-habitating partner or date. 
When any crime is committed in Florida, the State of Florida views itself as being an interested party. In practice this means that even when a victim does not want to prosecute a case, the State of Florida can proceed with prosecution. Other than the statute of limitations there is no legal limit to how long prosecutors can take to make a filing decision.
If charges are filed against you and if you don’t have any prior criminal record, then you may be able to apply for a diversionary program such as Pretrial Intervention where the charges will eventually be dismissed. Tampa Bay recently established a new Domestic Violence Court in Pinellas where the focus will include counseling with Batterer Intervention Programs rather than simply giving jail.

NEW PINELLAS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURT FOR ARRESTS, JAIL, COUNSELING & RESTRAINING ORDERS IN CLEARWATER FLORIDA

Local activists against domestic violence and sexual violence will help plan a new special Domestic Violence Pinellas County Court in Clearwater, Florida next year which will not only take in criminal cases but also be able to track and assign immediate injunctions for protection and restraining orders to protect victims. 


Money is also being allocated to ‘train’ Pinellas Judges to give sentences of jail or probation which includes completing successfully Pinellas Batterer Intervention Programs which entail six month group counseling sessions led by certified facilitators – who one assumes must go to work not only with a thick skin but perhaps shrouded within a suit of armor. 


The mere allegation of abuse should not be sufficient to bring criminal charges tho unfortunately this is not always true, if you’ve been falsely accused, arrested, charged or investigated it’s necessary to contact a Pinellas domestic violence attorney to defend your rights and to conduct a complete investigation of the facts for your criminal defense.
The trend seems to be that every type of crime will one day have its own specialized Court with its own specialist Judge dealing only with the issues resulting from that type of crime. The Pinellas Drug Court has been a success as noted previously in this criminal defense blog and here, but drugs are a victimless crime
It’s important to keep in mind that every crime even a repugnant or heinous crime such as the arrest for domestic violence must be proven in Florida by a reasonable doubt if the facts are in dispute.


741.28 Domestic violence; definitions.As used in ss. 741.28741.31:

(1) “Department” means the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
(2) “Domestic violence” means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.
(3) “Family or household member” means spouses, former spouses, persons related by blood or marriage, persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married. With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.

Be careful with that Pitchfork, Fella – or you’ll be sent to the Pinellas Domestic Violence Court.

Man and woman with stern expession stand side-by-side. The man hold a pitch fork.
American Gothic by Grant Wood, 1930.