Will Waiver of Prosecution Matter in Broward Domestic Violence Case?

Broward domestic violence cases often arise in the heat of the moment. Often by the next morning, both parties have cooled considerably and clearer heads prevail. It’s at this point the alleged victim may start looking into the possibility of signing a waiver of prosecution. Broward domestic violence defense lawyer

A waiver of prosecution, also sometimes called a declination of prosecution, is a sworn statement that informs the prosecutor, judge, and defense layer that they do not wish to prosecute or “press charges.”

The crux of this statement is basically two-fold:

  • The alleged victim formally states they do not want to press charges or cooperate with prosecutors.
  • The police report statements that were attributed to the alleged victim are either inaccurate or incomplete.

Sometimes, our Broward domestic violence defense lawyers are approached by the alleged victims of our clients to inquire about how they can go about getting the charges dismissed.

A few things we must outline for them at the start:

  • We cannot give them legal advice. We do not represent them, and as we are representing the defendant in the case, we are legally and ethically barred from providing the alleged victim with any advice about whether they should/should not file a waiver of prosecution or what they should say in it.
  • If the alleged victim contacts us to indicate they wish to sign a waiver of prosecution, we can provide them the paperwork, but we’ll also directly inform the prosecutor of the conversation.
  • The simple existence of a waiver of prosecution is not going to be a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for the defendant. That’s because it is not technically the victim’s case to decide. That’s not to say such a waiver won’t have an impact or be beneficial to the defense; prosecutors know they’re going to have a tougher time prevailing if the victim doesn’t cooperate. But ultimately, the decision to prosecute or not rests squarely on the shoulders of the state attorney’s office (the prosecution). And as our Broward domestic violence lawyers can explain, courts in domestic violence cases may be more lenient with the other types of evidence allowed (i.e., hearsay) precisely because non-cooperation of victims is so common.

All that said, if you are looking to sign a waiver of prosecution, it’s often better to do so earlier than later. It’s not necessarily going to deter a determined prosecutor. Be prepared for the reality that Florida officials aren’t inclined to flippantly drop cases involving violent crimes – whether the victim is cooperating or not.

But if the prosecutor can see at the outset they’re facing an uphill battle in terms of evidence, they may be more inclined to back off, reducing¬† the charges, or declining to prosecute altogether – particularly if this is a first-time offense and the incident did not result in serious injury.

Once the waiver of prosecution has been submitted by the alleged victim, the defendant’s lawyer can step in and try to persuade the prosecutor to reconsider.

If it doesn’t stop the prosecution and the case does end in conviction, the victim’s waiver of prosecution and subsequent statements supporting the defendant may be compelling enough to convince the court to impose lighter sentencing.

Have questions about a waiver of prosecution in your Fort Lauderdale domestic violence case? We can help.

Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

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