Why Do So Few Domestic Violence Arrests Lead To Criminal Prosecution?
When the police arrive at your house because of a domestic violence call, it is probably after a series of fights that escalated but then deescalated quickly, before the police could get involved. In some ways, a domestic violence arrest is a point of no return; the family law courts certainly take it as a red flag if police have gone to your house to respond to a domestic violence call. Your mind may be racing, thinking that your only options are to go to trial or to plead guilty. Your partner may have forgiven you many times for the fights you have had, but the law is much less likely to let bygones be bygones. Is it really possible that a domestic violence case can just blow over, without the state even formally filing charges? It happens more often than you think, not only for domestic violence but also for other criminal offenses. Whether your arrest turns into a real criminal case depends mostly on the circumstances of the alleged crime, but the chances that the state will decline to prosecute you are greater if you hire a West Palm Beach domestic battery lawyer.
When the State Declines to Prosecute
You may have heard the statistic that fewer than 10 percent of criminal cases go to trial. This is partly because it only makes sense to go to trial when there is room for disagreement about whether the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In cases where the evidence against the defendant is very strong, defendants usually plead guilty; in this case, their goal is to get the lightest possible sentence, since they cannot convincingly argue that they did not commit the crime. In cases where the prosecution obviously does not have enough evidence to convict, the state usually drops the charges early on or declines to prosecute the case. In other instances, there is substantial evidence against the defendant, but the state declines to prosecute the case simply because it is a low priority. The criminal justice system has finite resources, and in order to devote enough time and money to cases for major crimes like murder, drug trafficking, and sexual assault, it must let other cases go. The cases that get dismissed simply because they are not important enough tend to be for minor offenses like drug paraphernalia, disorderly conduct, and petty theft.
Domestic violence cases are a priority, especially when the parties involved have children. Many times, though, domestic violence arrests lead nowhere in criminal court. This is often because the alleged victim refuses to cooperate with prosecutors, or else submits a statement to the court requesting that the state decline to prosecute the case.
Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Attorney William Wallshein has more than 39 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County. Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.