Being arrested for domestic violence can be a frightening experience, especially if you were not expecting it to happen. At this juncture, you may wonder what is supposed to happen next. Expectations following a Ft. Lauderdale domestic violence arrest sometimes do not match up to the reality of the post-arrest process. Knowing what to expect after a Ft. Lauderdale domestic violence arrest is a lot easier if you have a knowledgeable attorney on your side. If you have been charged with domestic violence, consult a capable defense lawyer who can guide you through the process.
What Happens Following an Arrest
One of the expectations following a Ft. Lauderdale domestic violence arrest is that the arrested person must wait in custody to see a first appearance judge. Issues of release would be addressed or discussed at that hearing, and upon release, an individual would occasionally face issues regarding restrictions on contact of the complaining party as well as restrictions on movement, participation in treatment programs, and child visitation issues.
The interesting thing in domestic violence cases and all other criminal cases is that law enforcement officers make their arrests based on a standard of probable cause. Just because an individual is arrested does not automatically mean that they are going to face the actual charge in court.
Formal criminal charges are filed in Florida by the state attorney’s office. Each case is reviewed by the prosecutor and by the state attorney’s office, utilizing a higher standard of proof compared to the legal standard or the standard of proof required for the arrest in a domestic violence charge. The standard for an arrest to take place in a domestic violence case in Fort Lauderdale is probable cause. The standard required for a prosecutor to file the formal criminal charge is a reasonable likelihood of a conviction, based on a higher standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Elements a Prosecutor Looks For
Another one of the expectations following a Ft. Lauderdale domestic violence arrest is that prosecutors will take the time to look at the case to determine whether or not they can go forward on it and what their chances of success would be utilizing that higher standard in court. A lot of times, after an individual’s arrest, it would be in his or her best interest to engage a domestic violence defense attorney to help present mitigating facts and circumstances that might be able to help that individual to persuade the state attorney’s office to not file any criminal charges, either by presenting evidence that was not gathered or considered by law enforcement or presenting any reason to believe that the alleged victim is non-cooperative or wishes to file a waiver of prosecution. That sort of evidence should be brought to the attention of the state attorney’s office as soon as possible.
Prosecutor’s Approach to a Case
Prosecutors take a more forward approach, whereas law enforcement officers look at what is going on at that particular time as if it is a dangerous situation that needs to be addressed right then and there. Prosecutors are bound by the facts of the particular case and more likely to look at whether or not they stand a reasonable likelihood of a conviction in court and then look at what evidence that they have. Usually, at least in Fort Lauderdale, prosecutors can take up to 21 days or three weeks to look at their cases. They will make themselves available to receive evidence or any mitigating circumstances from an individual arrested that has an attorney to present any evidence in an attempt to try to persuade the prosecutor to either not file the criminal charge or, if there is any lesser or lower charges that could be filed, make attempts to do that.
Role of the Defense Attorney
If the defense attorney is successful and no charges are filed, then one of the expectations following a Ft. Lauderdale domestic violence arrest would be for the state attorney’s office to announce that they are not going forward on the charge. If there is a decision by the state attorney’s office to file a domestic violence criminal charge, the individual arrested would receive a notice to appear in court for a first hearing, known as an arraignment. That would be an opportunity for the individual to respond to the criminal charge. The individual would be given an opportunity to enter one of three pleas: guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
A seasoned and experienced domestic violence criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale can enter a plea of not guilty to engage what is called the rules of discovery to get any evidence the prosecutor has on the case required by the Florida rules of criminal procedure. From there, the attorney can start to investigate and work on any defenses that might be available in an attempt to persuade the prosecutor to drop the charges, try to negotiate a settlement that perhaps is reasonable under the facts or circumstances of the particular case and if the charges cannot be dropped and a negotiated resolution is not on the table or a viable option, prepare the case for jury trial.