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Victims of Domestic Violence

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, are often contacted by the person identified as the victim in a domestic violence case with questions about how to drop the charges.

This article discusses issues that can arise when the complaining witness wants to drop charges. Keep in mind that this information is not legal advice. For legal advice, you should with an attorney about the facts of your case. 

Recently, the State Attorney's Offices throughout Florida have been more aggressive in threatening and then actually following through on the threat to charge the complaining witness giving a false report to a law enforcement officer under Florida Statute 837.05.

If you made a statement to the police about what occurred then you should be very careful about making a second statement to the judge, the prosecutor, a victim/witness counselor, or anyone else without your own attorney at your side. It is particularly important to speak to your own attorney if you decide to complete a voluntary written statement.

We recently obtained a form provided to a victim in a domestic violence case. The template for the form provides:


STATEMENT

Case Number:

Date:

I, ________________ hereby make this statement to _______, who I know to be a Deputy Sheriff of Hernando County, Florida. I have been advised that I have the right to remain silent, that anything I say can and will be used against me in a court of law, that I have the right to have an attorney present while I am being questioned and if I cannot afford to hire an attorney, one will be appointed to represent me before any questioning.

No threats, promises, or rewards have been made or offered to me. No force as been used, nor have I suffered any mistreatment, physical or otherwise by any member of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office or anyone else. I make this statement voluntarily and of my own free will, desiring, to tell the truth about this matter.....

I hereby share or affirm that the above statement is true to the best of my knowledge. I further understand that in the event I intentionally provide false information, I can be prosecuted for making a false official statement under F.S.S. 837.06.

Signature

_____________


The Interview with a Victim/Witness Counselor

After answering questions at the scene and filling out a written statement, the alleged victim will later be contacted by a Victim / Witness Counselor at the State Attorney's Office.

The Victim/Witness Counselor will complete a Domestic Violence Recommendation form that is marked "Work Product - Not Discoverable" at the top. The Victim/Witness Counselor will often complete an interview with the Alleged Victim and complete a DV intake form. The victim interview intake form will ask the alleged victim's contact information along with many other questions.

The questions listed below were cut and paste from a form used by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. The domestic violence units in other counties use similar forms. During the intake process - especially if you want the no contact provision lifted, you might be asked the following questions (which you are not required to answer particularly if the answer might tend to incriminate you because it contracts an earlier statement you gave to law enforcement):

  1. Relationship between victim and defendant: (Note type of relationship, the length of the relationship and other pertinent details).
  2. Are there children in the home? What is the relationship between defendant and children? Was this incident witnessed by the children? What did they see? Were the children in danger during incident? Get names, ages, and social security numbers of children if possible.
  3. Does victim have concerns regarding the defendant's treatment of children? Does victim have concerns regarding leaving children alone with defendant? Note any abuse or violence toward children. Look for scoresheet multiplier. Are you pregnant? Did the defendant know you were pregnant?
  4. If the children have been victims or witnesses to violence, Florida Law requires this be reported to the Florida Department of Children and Families abuse hotline. 1-800-96-ABUSE (If police report indicates law enforcement called hotline, it is not necessary to call again.
    • Date report made to hotline:
    • Report taken by:
    • (name of abuse registry worker and I.D.#)
  5. Defendants prior relationships: (what information can you obtain about prior abuse)(look for Williams Rule Evidence).
  6. History of abuse by this defendant: Toward victim/others. Type of abuse and injuries. Has victim ever called law enforcement on this defendant before? Is victim aware of others having been abused by this defendant? Prior violent acts. Is there abuse, or threat of abuse toward children or animals?
  7. Is substance (alcohol/drugs) a factor? Inquire about mental health problems or prior mental health treatment. (Victim and defendant) Are there weapons in the home? Have there ever been threats with weapons?
  8. Has victim had contact with defendant or defendant's attorney since this incident? What was the nature of the contact? (Explain meaning of no contact order).
  9. Does victim currently have/or has ever had an Injunction for Protection against this defendant? (Get injunction case # and county of issuance). Has victim ever gone to an abuse shelter? If so, get pertinent information which might assist you in the case.
  10. Describe marks, bruises or other injuries if applicable. Was medical care required? Name of hospital or treatment providers. OBTAIN MEDICAL RELEASE if applicable. Inquire if PHOTOS were taken by medical provider, a family member, shelter care center, friend, other. Who took photos and where were they taken? Are there witnesses to victims injuries?
  11. Are there other witnesses who have information about this incident. Get names, address, and phone numbers.
  12. Do you have any photographs, video, or any other recording of the incident?
  13. Victims background: Prior arrests or convictions. (Look for Brady Material).
  14. The Victim's wishes regarding this offense. Has anyone made threats or promises to victim or family concerning this case?
  15. Restitution documentation and amount. $_______.
  16. This incident: What Happened? _______________________.

In some cases, the State Attorney's Office will ask the alleged victim to acknowledge that they have been given information regarding the five (5) education classes required to have the No Contact Order dismissed to allow peaceful contact between the alleged victim and the defendant.

The State Attorney's Office might also ask the alleged victim to sign and initial a "Domestic Violence Request to Drop Charges" form (although you can use your own form to put it in writing that you want the charges dropped without discussing the facts of the case).


Request to Drop Domestic Violence Charges

__ I acknowledge that I am the identified victim in the above-referenced case and it is my desire that this defendant not be prosecuted.

__ I acknowledge that I have been provided information about injunctions for protection and about programs and services in the community which can assist with safe housing, counseling, relocation assistance, and in developing a safety plan.

__ Having been provided with information about resources, I understand that if the charges are dropped, the State Attorney's Office will be unable to provide me any assistance in seeking protection from this defendant.

__I acknowledge that I have been counseled about the escalating pattern of domestic violence and have been advised of the possibility that this defendant could seriously harm or injure me.

__ I acknowledge that the State Attorney's Office will be unable to assist me in seeking restitution from this defendant if the charges are dropped.

__ I am requesting this of my own free will and no threats or promises have been made to me or my family to induce me to make this request.

__ I understand the decision to prosecute or not prosecute this charge lies with the State Attorney's Office and this Request to Drop Charges is only an expression of my wishes.

______________________

Victim's Signature


This article was last updated on Thursday, January 5, 2017.