How Hard Is It To Get Prosecutors Not To Charge You?
Getting arrested on suspicion of a crime is not like standing in front of two doors, behind one of which a terrible fate awaits you, and deciding which one to open. It is more like the beginning of a flowchart. Your case can take many different paths. If you focus only on “incarceration” versus “no incarceration,” then all paths lead to the same two doors, but there are multiple ways to reach both of them. Getting acquitted at trial is not the most common way in which people walk free after being accused of a crime. In fact, only a small fraction of cases end this way. Guilty pleas are much more common than trials, regardless of the verdict, and regardless of whether the sentence the defendant accepts includes jail or prison time. Cases where the prosecution drops the charges before the trial or before the defendant enters a plea are also more common than criminal trials. Certain types of cases are more likely than others to end with the state deciding not to pursue the charges, but regardless of the accusations you are facing, it is worthwhile to talk to a criminal defense lawyer about your options. Here, our Miami domestic violence defense lawyer explains why domestic violence cases often resolve without the state formally filing charges, as well as what you can do to deescalate the domestic violence case against you or against your partner.
Why Prosecutors Pick and Choose Which Cases to Pursue
Defendants in criminal cases have the right to due process, which involves, among other things, the right not to receive a punishment for a crime until and unless they willingly admit guilt or a jury finds them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It would be a manifest injustice if a judge ordered 100 defendants into a courtroom, said, “you’re all guilty,” and imposed on each one the maximum possible sentence for his or her crimes. Therefore, there must be some other solution to the fact that the state simply does not have the time and money to go to trial over every case where someone is accused of a crime. You have probably heard horror stories about public defenders pressuring defendants into pleading guilty because they are too busy and stressed to help all the defendants assigned to them fight their charges, but that is only one possible manifestation of the phenomenon in which not every arrest leads to a trial.
Prosecutors drop the charges against many defendants whom police arrest. One reason they do this is in cases where there is not enough evidence to convict the defendant; pursuing those cases would be a waste of state resources, because the defendants would plead not guilty, knowing that they had a chance of winning the case, and the trial would result in an acquittal. Even when left with only the cases where there is strong evidence against the defendant, prosecutors do not have the resources to prosecute them all. They tend to drop the charges for the most minor offenses, such as disorderly conduct, petty theft, or possession of drug paraphernalia. In cases where the victim can express an opinion about whether to proceed with the charges, crime victims sometimes say that they don’t want the defendant to receive criminal penalties. For example, if you are charged with theft, the victim might not want to see you prosecuted if you have returned the stolen property.
Declination of Prosecution Affidavits in Domestic Violence Cases
In domestic violence cases, it is common for victims not to want to see their partners, spouses, or family members prosecuted. If a member of your household was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence against you, you have the right to file a declination of charges affidavit. This is a sworn statement that you present to the court. In it, you provide details that support the case for dropping the charges against your accused partner or family member. You can be charged with perjury if you make false statements in a declination of prosecution affidavit. Providing information that is not obvious from the police report, but which is also not a lie, requires careful wording. It is a good idea to hire a criminal defense lawyer if you plan to file a declination of prosecution affidavit.
Contact Our Domestic Violence Crimes Defense Attorneys
A South Florida criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing criminal charges for domestic violence, but the alleged victim does not want to see you face criminal penalties. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo in Miami, Florida for a free, confidential consultation about your case.