What Happens If A DV Victim Refuses to Testify?
Victim testimony usually makes or breaks an allegation of domestic violence in court. If a victim in a case will not testify, the state may decide not to pursue charges against a defendant. This is not an unusual occurrence as the state can’t make someone give a statement. All too often, as the date of their court appearance looms closer, many victims try to avoid attending the hearing. If you’re facing domestic violence (DV) allegations, there are additional factors that will determine if a prosecutor will drop the case against you or go ahead with the charges anyway.
Prosecutors Look For All Evidence of Battery
A victim’s spoken word isn’t the only piece of evidence that can bring a conviction for domestic violence. If there were witnesses who watched the abuse occur or video evidence of it, then the court and prosecution will use this information without needing the petitioner (victim) to attend the hearing.
Consider some of the following examples of substantiated proof that could lead to your conviction without direct testimony from the victim. These scenarios show the necessity of hiring an experienced domestic violence defense attorney if accused or facing charges of this nature.
There Is Already Testimony On The Record
Many times, there is a preliminary hearing where the petitioner has already undergone questioning. The test to this situation is if the defendant has had the opportunity to cross-examine the plaintiff since those accused of crimes have a right to question their accuser in court.
Exceptions to this may include the victim being legally unavailable by physical or mental disability, an invocation of a right to not testify, or being outside the jurisdiction of the case. If the defendant prevents the plaintiff from testifying, it’s possible to use the victim’s statements.
A Witness Saw It All
Prosecutors can also move forward on charges of domestic violence without a testifying victim because there is a witness to the events. This individual will likely have to answer questions from both the prosecution and the defense.
Emergency Services Recordings
While a 911 call recording is not a sworn statement, prosecutors may use it to provide a better understanding of facts involved in the case. Statements made outside the court are hearsay, though there may be exceptions to that, like a spontaneous statement or excited utterance. Under Florida State Statute 90.803(2), that occurs when someone makes a statement that depicts:
- Emotional state
- Physical condition
These statements, like those on 911 calls during a domestic event, may find acceptance from the court with additional supporting evidence.
What If There’s No Evidence At All?
At the end of the day, prosecutors have the burden of proving domestic violence-related crimes and this is a high standard to meet. In order to successfully convict an individual of this serious crime, the state must prove the following:
- You purposely committed a physical assault against another
- You physically hit or came into contact with another without their permission
The focus on intent is key to any case alleging this type of violence. Pictures alone won’t usually prove a case, but if there is evidence via testimony by the victim or witnesses, purposeful intentions are then apparent.
Contacting a Domestic Violence Lawyer in Orlando
If you’re under arrest for or are facing domestic violence charges, it’s critical to hire a criminal defense attorney right away to build your defense and seek dismissal of the case. This type of crime doesn’t have a good outcome for those who get convicted. Jail time, fines, and a permanently blemished record are just a few of the consequences one faces upon being found guilty.
Your best option for a strong defense is to consult with a seasoned DV defense lawyer at The Umansky Law Firm. Not only do we take these cases seriously against those wrongly accused of such crimes, but we work aggressively to restore your reputation and record. With more than 100 years of combined experience, we are proud members of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Contact our offices today or contact us online to learn how we can help you through this challenging time.