Personal Safety: Domestic Violence
In the United States, more than one-third of women aged 18 and over approximately 42.4 million women have experienced physical violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking by a current or former intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. Men are also victims of domestic violence, but the vast majority of victims are women.
Victims of domestic violence come from all cultures, all income groups, all ages, and all religions.
Domestic violence can be lethal. On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends each day in this country.
What To Do If Youre Arrested For Domestic Violence
If arrested, it is essential that you take the arrest seriously from moment one. Call a lawyer.
Frequently, those arrested for domestic violence view the charge as overblown and think of what occurred as a simple dispute that wont draw criminal charges. They may also assume the alleged victim will drop charges or refuse to testify. The law does not view a domestic violence allegation that way, and neither should you. Make sure to contact an attorney with experience working on cases like yours immediately upon arrest.
Can A Domestic Violence Victim Have The Charges Dropped In Florida
Domestic violence is defined in Florida as 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.
In West Palm Beach, domestic violence is one of the most commonly committed crimes. Like many other states, Florida has stricter laws and policies relating to domestic violence often treating it as a serious violent crime. The number of domestic violence cases increases each year in the U.S., and we especially saw a rapid 8.1% increase after jurisdictions imposed pandemic-related lockdown orders starting in the spring of 2020.
If you were arrested for domestic violence in Palm Beach County contact our office at 671-5995 to better comprehend the legalities of the charges against you, and what you need to do to prevent a conviction.
Also Check: How Long Do You Have To Go To Police Academy
What To Expect From Law Enforcement
When reporting domestic abuse to a law enforcement officer, the officer on the scene is responsible for
making sure you and the people around you are not injured, and
connecting you with local agencies and resources that help victims of domestic violence.
In addition to these responsibilities, the law enforcement officer should also provide the Legal Rights and Remedies Notice to Victims document. This notice should include the following:
Resources available from the local domestic violence shelter and the Department of Children and Families.
A paper that says: IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, you may ask the state attorney to file a criminal complaint. You also have the right to go to court and file a petition requesting an injunction for protection from domestic violence which may include, but need not be limited to, provisions which restrain the abuser from further acts of abuse direct the abuser to leave your household prevent the abuser from entering your residence, school, business, or place of employment award you custody of your minor child or children and direct the abuser to pay support to you and the minor children if the abuser has a legal obligation to do so .
This statement explains the following:
A description of physical injuries observed, if any.
If a law enforcement officer decides not to make an arrest or decides to arrest two or more people, the officer shall/will include the reason that the arrests were or were not made.
Who Brings Domestic Violence Charges
A domestic violence charge typically begins when someone calls the police. Of course, the police can happen upon the scene on their own. However, especially for domestic violence cases, most cases begin when someone makes a report to law enforcement. The police respond to the scene and investigate.
Pennsylvania domestic violence laws allow the police to make an arrest on the scene. They dont have to witness the domestic violence occur. However, they need to have at least some corroborating evidence of the assault and the truth of the allegations. If the police believe domestic violence occurred, they have the legal authority to make an arrest. The victim doesnt decide whether or not the defendant gets arrested.
From there, the case goes to the district attorney. Even after an arrest, the district attorney can decide not to press charges. In that situation, the defendant is simply released. While the district attorney can seek input from the victim about their wishes for charges, ultimately, the attorney for the state makes the final decision.
Don’t Miss: How Can I Find My Police Report Online
The Protocols For Responding To Domestic Violence Can Help Survivors Know What To Expect
Domestic violence has been found to constitute the single largest category of police calls in some cities. When police officers respond, they know the situation can be volatile for both them and the abusers victim. Thats because the killer in almost one third of female homicides is an intimate partner, and 22 percent of officer line of duty deaths in recent years occurred while responding to domestic violence calls.
What the stats dont really capture is all the law enforcement officers that are killed in the line of duty on traffic stops, serving protection orders or serving warrants , says Michael P. LaRiviere, a police officer who does domestic violence training for national organizations, including the National Sheriffs Association.
Ive seen a connection between offenders who murder police officers and a record of domestic violence, LaRiviere says. Theyre dangerous people. Theyre about power and control, and law enforcement officers represent the authority to take away their freedoms.
This explosive combination has led 95 percent of law enforcement agencies to develop policies that officers are asked to follow when responding to domestic violence calls, and 85 percent also require officers to participate in specialized domestic violence training. Nearly half of the departments now have separate units devoted to domestic violence cases.
What Police Are Trained to Do
I Received A Restraining Order From The Court But The Restrained Person Is Not Following The Judges Orders What Can I Do
As the protected party, you should always have a certified copy of the restraining order with you. If the restrained party violates the order by committing or threatening violence, you should call your local law enforcement agency. Once the police officer or sheriffs deputy reads the order to see if the order has been violated, he or she will decide what action to take. The restrained party may be arrested and criminal charges may be filed.
Also Check: Can You Request A Copy Of A Police Report
How To Report Domestic Violence Domestic Abuse And Hotlines
Next to 911, the most important number you can have on hand is the domestic violence hotline. Dont think youll ever need it? Consider this fact: one out of every four women in the U.S. personally encounters domestic violence in their lifetime. Thats a whopping 25% of all women. And men, youre not immune either. At least one in nine men are victims of domestic abuse. Thankfully, theres plenty of help available in dealing with the national domestic violence problem.
According to the 24-Hour Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services report, over 22,000 calls were made to a domestic violence hotline in a mere 24-hour timeframe. Thats an average of 16 phone calls every minute. Yes, the end of abuse begins with a simple dial tone.
Dont Miss: When Can You Become A Police Officer
How To Drop A Police Report
A police report cannot be dropped once it’s been made. However, if you wish to drop the charges that were filed because of your police report, you may or may not be successful. The police department may refuse to drop the charges because of the severity of the crime.
Contact the law enforcement agency where you made the report. Explain that you know that you can’t revoke a police report, but that you’d like to drop the charges against the offender. The police cannot drop charges against the offender, but they can note the fact that you’re asking for them to be dropped.
Meet with the district attorney, if one has been assigned to the case. Explain to her why you’d like the charges dropped. If you believe that you’ve made an error or that the wrong person has been charged, show her any evidence that supports your claim. The state may still decide to press charges against the offender despite your wishes, however.
Also Check: How To Get Police Records
How Do I File A Petition In Family Court
You must go to the Help Center between 8:30-5:00 Mon.- Fri. After you tell the clerk at the front desk you are there, you will be given forms to fill out, including one to write down the incidents of violence. When your name is called, you will see a clerk who will write the petition based on the information you gave on the form.
There are no filing fees in Family Court.
The Prosecution Will Decide Whether The Suspect Faces Charges
Even if the police decide to file charges, this does not mean that suspect will actually face charges. First, the investigator will transfer the case to the criminal and penal prosecuting attorney . The prosecutor then decides whether to formally charge the suspect with a crime. At this point, the suspect officially becomes the accused. After charges are authorized, youll receive a letter with the accuseds name and the charges. This process can take several days, weeks, or even months.
You May Like: Can I See Police Reports Online
Making Yourself Safer At The Courthouse
- Sit as far away from the abuser as you can.
- Bring someone you trust to wait with you until your case is heard.
- For a witness, get a blue subpoena so they can come into Family Court at 34 S. 11th Street). A blue subpoena is also known as a “friendly witness” subpoena. It is available in both English and Spanish at Family Court at 34 S. 11th Street in Customer Service, Clerks Office, Domestic Violence Unit, Custody Intake, Custody Masters Unit, and all courtrooms. Pick up all of the copies you need on the day you file.
- Tell a sheriff or the judges clerk that you are afraid of the abuser and ask him/her to look out for you.
- Make sure you have your court order before you leave.
- Ask the judge or the sheriff to keep the abuser in the courthouse for awhile when the hearing is over leave quickly.
*adapted in part from Domestic Violence Safety Plan: Safety Tips for You and Your Family, a joint project of the American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section and the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence.
Contesting Or Responding To A Request For A Restraining Order
TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER:
The person requesting the restraining order, called the protected person, can ask the judge to immediately issue a Temporary Restraining Order that lasts until the hearing date. If you receive notice from the protected person, usually a phone call, advising you that someone is requesting a Temporary Restraining Order, you have the right to appear before the judge to object to it. In some cases, a person may request a Temporary Restraining Order without letting you know if that person is fearful of contacting you.
HOW TO FILE A RESPONSE:
After the protected person files the papers with the court, a hearing date will be set. You must be served with a copy of the papers. Read them carefully. If a Temporary Restraining Order was granted, you must obey the temporary orders of the court.
This may include:
- Complete the Response to Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order and file it with the court as soon as possible.
- Have someone at least 18 years old serve the protected person by mail with a copy of the Response. They must complete a Proof of Service by Mail . Bring the completed Proof of Service by Mail form with you to the hearing.
- Attend the hearing and testify on some or all of issues. If you do not, the judge can make permanent orders against you. For more information, read Get Ready for the Court Hearing .
You may receive assistance at any of the Self-Help Centers.
Read Also: How To Become A Police Profiler
What Will Happen To The Abuser
If the abuser is arrested, he/she will be held in jail until the first appearance before a judge. After first appearance, the person can be released until the next hearing. At that next hearing, a temporary injunction can be filed before the abuser is released. This temporary injunction will be active until the final hearing. If the abuser is found to be guilty of domestic violence, he/she will be held on at least one years probation and, unless deemed inappropriate by the court, will take part in a batterers intervention program that will be a part of probation .
In addition to probation and batterers intervention programming, the abuser can be sentenced to a minimum of five days in a county jail if found guilty of intentionally causing bodily harm to another person. If your abuser has a history of domestic abuse, he/she may face a felony charge with up to five years in prison . If this is the case, the abuser will no longer be able to own a firearm and will have any concealed weapon license revoked. If the abuser is convicted of a more severe charge, such as Aggravated Domestic Battery, he/she could face up to 15 years in a state prison .
Dont Miss: Whats Police Academy Like
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program For Intimate Partner Violence
The Health Science Centre Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program recently expanded to provide support to adult and adolescent patients who self-disclose as a victim of Intimate Partner Violence . A team of specially trained nurses will meet with you to discuss options, provide medical care, help report to police and collect forensic evidence if you choose. They will give you resources and connect you with follow up resources if you wish as well..
The IPV window is 10 days from the time of the incident and examinations will be performed for those patients with any physical or sexual assault, including strangulation. A victim may attend to HSC on their own or in the company of Police to have an exam completed.
This video gives you a sense of what the program is about and what to expect:
To access these services go to the Childrens or Adult Emergency Department at Health Sciences Centre or call 204-787-2071 and ask for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.
Don’t Miss: Can A Police Officer Dismiss A Ticket
Is It Too Late For You To Press Charges
It is never too late to report a domestic abuse case. However, the chances of officials filing for it reduce day by day. It is better to immediately visit your local police station and then they will tell you what to do.
It is always better to file a police report as early as possible. This is because the more you delay it, the wounds start to heal and the proof gets lost. Regardless of this, the police will listen to you and may even file a report. Moreover, unless you do not file a report, the court will not be able to press any charges. Therefore, you must report the incident to the police.
You should give all the details to the police regarding where and when the violence took place. Moreover, you should also take pictures of your wounds and injuries as proof of the violence you were subject to.
How Do I Drop Domestic Violence Charges In Massachusetts
Sponsored Answer Email
Domestic violence cases are treated differently from most other criminal cases in Massachusetts. Having started my career as a prosecutor in Middlesex County, I am well aware of how assistant district attorneys are trained to handle these cases. Prosecutors are quite accustomed to dealing with alleged victims of domestic violence who desperately want to drop the charges against their alleged abusers. In Massachusetts, however, only the prosecutor or the judge can dismiss a domestic assault-and-battery charge. Alleged victims who believe that they have the power to “drop the charges” in a domestic-abuse case quickly find out that they are sadly mistaken.
This mandatory arrest policy often comes as a shock to the reporting party. I have had many of my clients’ girlfriends and wives in my office, explaining to me that they only called 911 to have the police talk to their partner, or calm him down, or scare him. There have been many cases when the police show up at a couple’s home, arrest the husband or boyfriend, and then find that the wife or girlfriend is fighting them, trying to prevent their partner from being taken away! Nonetheless, once an allegation of domestic violence is made, it is a foregone conclusion that an arrest will be made, the case will then be in the system, with the next step being the booking process at the station.
Recommended Reading: Can Police Track A Textnow Number
What If The Respondent Has Not Been Served
You should come back to court even if you have not been able to serve the respondent. Tell the Judge the efforts you made to serve the respondent.
If the Sheriff attempted service:
The Sheriff will have sent the court the proof of attempted service. When you return to court, the Judge may give you more time to try to serve the papers on the Respondent. You can ask the Judge for other ways to serve the respondent, such as service by certified mail. You can also ask the court to issue a warrant if you cannot find the respondent or if he is avoiding service.
If the police attempted service:
If the police attempted service note the date and times, precinct number, and officers’ names who attempted service. Try to get a statement from the police showing their attempts to serve the Respondent. If someone other than police attempted service, write down the dates, times, and places that service was attempted. When you return to court, the Judge may give you more time to try to serve the papers on the Respondent. You can ask the Judge for other ways to serve the respondent, such as service by certified mail. You can also ask the court to issue a warrant if you can not find the respondent or if he is avoiding service.