Now number one is, Delay. Time is critical when we’re talking about what to do after someone’s been arrested or even accused of domestic violence in Florida. Delay is fatal. And why do people delay? We’ll often it’s because the reason number two, denial. A lot of times people think, gosh, if they just explain it to the state attorney the charges will be magically dropped. This is where we often hear, well, I’m going to have the complaining witness go down, my uncle talk to that person and they’re going to ask to drop charges and since they’re going to drop charges it’s going to go away and I don’t need a lawyer, that is absolutely not true. In fact, mistake number three often results, known as violating a no-contact order. Generally speaking, in all 67 counties and all 20 judicial circuits in Florida, when someone has been accused of domestic violence it’s critically important that they not violate a no-contact order. That means no direct contact, no indirect contact, no contact through third parties, no having your father contact the complaining witnesses’ uncle. Violating a no-contact order can result in additional charges and a violation of bond conditions meaning a person walking out of jail literally for weeks or months simply by making contact when they shouldn’t.
We’ll let’s talk about common mistake number four and that is representing yourself. People who represent themselves don’t realize how it works within the legal system is very simple the state wants you to show up to court and not have a lawyer, why? Because they’re going to make an offer that’s not going to be the maximum penalty but it’s certainly not going to be a dismissal instead they’re going to offer something else and it’s not as low as you can get simply because at the very least they’ve been to law school and you haven’t and they know that.
So, finally, let’s talk about common mistake number five and that is showing up to arraignment court and accepting pretrial diversion ptd. I’m just coming off of a couple of different domestic violence cases and in each case we had a complaining witness who stated something to the effect of the other party did not batter me. But what happened? Did the state attorney go, oh the police made a mistake let’s go ahead and drop the charges, absolutely not. In one of those cases we had to wait until the morning of jury selection when the state knew they couldn’t possibly prove this case. In order for them to do the right thing and dismiss it voluntarily.
In the second one, all the way through a proceeding that in this particular County is the last date to change the play and it’s called, “plea day” in this particular County, and sure enough at the very last minute on “plea day” charges were dismissed. But what does the state wants you to do? They want you to come in knowing that the range between the maximum and a complete dismissal being what it is that if you don’t have representation they’re not going to offer you the best you can possibly get. You’ll also miss out on defenses and the guidance that a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer can offer to you.