January 31, 2011
In my criminal practice, I have been hired to represent clients who have been charged with both misdemeanor and felony domestic violence charges. In every case , regardless of the merits of the “victim’s” allegations, Florida law prohibits the Defendant from having any contact with the victim, except through pretrial discovery pursuant to the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. Florida Statute 903.047.
In my career as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, I have been faced with numerous situations where this prohibition has been disregarded by the victim who, after the anger and shock of the spouse’s arrest has worn off, wants to connect with the Defendant for financial, emotional or other reasons.
To all my clients who ask my advice in this situation, I tell them in no uncertain terms, DON’T DO IT. The simple fact is that the alleged victim cannot unilaterally ignore the judge’s order any more than the accused can. The difference is, while the victim’s actions might be deemed ill-advised, the Defendant, if upon feeling enboldened by the spouse’s actions, maintains further contact, he or she could wind up back in jail with no bond.
Once a no contact order is entered, it can only be rescinded by the assigned judge. This is easily accomplished by scheduling a hearing where the victim must appear and state under oath that he or she is not in fear of the Defendant and wants to reinitiate contact.
One more thing – even if the judge does permit contact, the State Attorney has the final say as to whether the criminal case will continue. As a practical matter, I usually ask the victim at the contact hearing whether he or she still wishes to prosecute the spouse. A “no” answer is, under most circumstances, persuasive enough to convince the State to dismiss the case.
If you have a pending domestic violence charge, understand that even if the spouse makes contact by telephone, texting or in person, you must abide by the no contact provision unless removed by court order.