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The Use Of A Police Report In Domestic Violence Cases
When you have been charged with domestic violence in Florida, it is crucial to take the proceedings very seriously, as being convicted of a domestic violence offense can lead to prison time and significant fines, among other restrictions that can stay with you even after you serve any sentence. One of the pieces of evidence that may be used against you at a trial, if applicable, is the police report filed on the night of the incident. However, this must be used appropriately, or it can actually infringe upon your rights. An experienced attorney can help.
A Report Is Required
In Florida, it is required for law enforcement officers (LEOs) who answer calls about potential domestic disputes to fill out a police report on the issue – however, it is important to note that they are not required to make an arrest. An arrest may happen if the LEO believes there is sufficient evidence that a crime has occurred, but all that must occur is for the LEO to offer advice and assistance to the alleged victim in obtaining medical treatment.
The police report generated after a domestic dispute call may contain lots of relevant information – a description of the event, a record of any injuries, and any admissions from either party may be contained in the report. However, even if the police report is potentially damaging to your interests, it is very often not usable in court, because police reports are an example of what is called hearsay.
Police Reports Are Hearsay (Usually)
Hearsay is a type of evidence that is defined as any statement – other than one offered at trial, while testifying, by a witness – that is offered for its truth. For example, an eyewitness to a car accident may give their testimony to law enforcement, but unless they are available to testify at trial, their testimony may be inadmissible, because the defendant has no opportunity to ask them questions or contest their story.
Police reports very often fall under the hearsay rule, despite their potential relevance to a domestic violence case. The reason is because the evidence in them cannot be replicated – the police report would have to stand on its own, as the defendant cannot be asked to incriminate themselves by accepting or disavowing its contents. While there are several hearsay exceptions that may allow a police report to be admissible, it is vital to consult a knowledgeable legal professional before going forward.
Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
If you have been charged with a domestic violence offense, it is important to understand the nature of the case against you, including whether or not the police report can be used by the state’s attorney. A West Palm Beach criminal attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help protect your rights during what can be a frightening time in life. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.