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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Can A Domestic Violence Case Progress Without Victim Testimony?

Can A Domestic Violence Case Progress Without Victim Testimony?


In quite a few domestic violence cases, the testimony of the alleged victim is the cornerstone of the prosecution’s case. Without it, a state’s attorney may choose not to prosecute. However, it is crucial to understand that this is not always the case. Whether or not a domestic violence case will progress is almost entirely context-dependent. If you have been charged with a Florida domestic violence offense, know that your alleged victim’s refusal to testify does not get you off the proverbial hook.

The Victim Is Not The Plaintiff

Florida law defines domestic violence as any criminal offense that results in physical injury or death to a family or household member of the perpetrator (“family or household member” includes several people, including spouses, co-parents, and relations by blood or marriage). While physical injury is required, this can include contact as minor as causing a scratch or bruise.

In many cases, the alleged victim’s testimony is the centerpiece of a criminal case against their alleged abuser. However, too many people labor under the misapprehension that they are the one mounting the case – in reality, the government (in domestic violence cases, the State of Florida) is the plaintiff, not the victim, and thus, it has the final say on whether a case should progress or not. If the state’s attorney believes they have a persuasive case, they will proceed with or without the victim’s compliance.

Other Types of Evidence

If the victim in your case refuses to testify, know that it does not mean you are suddenly home free. In addition, it is worth noting that even in cases where a domestic violence victim agrees to testify, their evidence may not be particularly persuasive or even useful. This is particularly the case in situations of so-called ‘mutual combat’ – it is unfortunately all too easy for events to become confusing for all involved.

There are actually several types of evidence that can be persuasive in establishing a case of domestic violence. One common example, if it does not fall foul of a hearsay exception, is the transcript of the 911 call in your case. Another is the testimony of other witnesses, if they actually saw a physical altercation taking place. An enterprising state’s attorney has a good chance to make a case without the victim’s compliance, so if you have been charged with this type of offense, it is crucial to take it seriously.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

Domestic violence is seen as a serious offense in Florida, and if you have been charged with this type of crime, it is important that you appreciate the potential consequences, even if your victim refuses to testify against you. Calling a West Palm Beach criminal attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.

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