Sometimes victims want to "drop the charges"

As a criminal defense attorney, I receive a lot of calls from alleged victims who say they want to drop the charges. More often than not, these are domestic violence cases (or "DV" for short).

Perhaps it is from representations in television and movies, but many people seem to believe that if they tell the police or prosecutor that they want to "drop the charges" then the case will go away. The truth is a bit more complicated.

Although most (though not all) DV cases require a victim to come to court and testify, prosecutors have ways of trying to make people show up anyway. A properly served subpoena in compliance with Florida Statute 48.031 compels a person to appear.

Florida law provides victims' rights and one of those rights is the right to be heard. Victims have the right to tell prosecutors or courts what they want to see happen in a case. A victim does have the right to request the State drop the charges, but the State is not obligated to honor their request. Prosecutors get the final decision on whether or not to drop charges. As a result, the reason WHY a victim wants to drop the charges is going to be very relevant.

I have heard all kinds of stories from victims. Some say that the police pressured or misled them to sign something that wasn't 100% accurate. Others say they want to drop charges because they are financially dependent on their abuser. As you can imagine, there is a history of DV victims not cooperating with law enforcement due to fear of their abuser, so a lot of the system is designed to take the decision out of the hands of victims.

If you are an alleged victim and want the charges to be dropped, the best thing you can do is hire an attorney for the defendant. Hiring an attorney is not a violation of a no-contact order. The attorney can ask the court to modify conditions of release and can try to resolve the case favorably with the State.