In Florida, there is a criminal process that must be followed in all cases – including domestic violence. If you are accused of domestic violence, a state attorney may charge you with an accusation of crime using one of two ways:
- Filing and information, or
- Impaneling a grand jury to return a true bill.
What is important to realize is that if you are arrested, law enforcement is not in charge of the criminal process. They arrest you for the alleged crime, but they cannot charge you with the crime. Instead, the state attorney or assistants must make charges in criminal cases.
The Accusatory Process
Domestic violence cases are very complex. It will start with a complaint – whether it is from a spouse or domestic partner – to the local police. The police will investigate and may bring you in for questioning. It is important that, at this stage, you contact a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can ensure that you do not self-incriminate during the questioning process. He or she can also ensure that you are not being accused of a crime which you did not commit. Sometimes, allegations of domestic violence come about out of spite; even so, there is often limited evidence to prove the case other than the alleged victim’s testimony.
After you have been arraigned for domestic violence, you will be entitled to a reasonable bond. This amount is set by the court. Generally, you will need to post bond with the court, where the bond is a binding agreement to pay money if you do not appear for your scheduled court date. Bonds can be cash or a surety – depending on the bond total and the judge’s discretion. Surety bonds require the assistance of a bondsman. This individual will file a bond with the court on your behalf, which guarantees your appearance. If you are arrested for additional offenses after the bond, your original bond can be revoked without notice.
After your first appearance, your attorney will assist you with the bond process and can advise you as to which method is best, depending on the charges and bond amount set by the court.
Case Filing Decision
The state’s attorney office will review the case filing package on your case, typically within two weeks of your arrest. If you are already in custody for the domestic violence case, then they may make their decision within 21 days. If you are not in custody, the actual decision will take 30 days to finalize. Once the state has enough information, the Clerk’s Office will post the charges; you will then be notified of your arraignment date.
Defending Your Case
Domestic violence cases are very complex. Additionally, there are many emotions involved in these types of cases. It is important that you have a criminal defense team by your side that understands these cases, as well as the process in which you will be charged. Contact The Law Office of Timothy Armstrong, P.A. today regarding your domestic violence arrest. You can schedule a consultation 24 hours a day by calling 904-356-8618 or fill out our online contact form with your questions.