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Domestic Violence in Hernando County

What happens after an arrest for domestic violence in Hernando County, FL?

Many people are shocked to learn now domestic violence cases are treated in Florida. First, the allegation will result in an arrest, even for a misdemeanor battery accusation involving an “offensive touching” when no one is injured and no weapon is used, even if the alleged victim does NOT want the arrest to occur.

Second, the person accused of domestic violence is taken to jail and held with NO BOND until after the first appearance in court. At first appearance, the judge might impose a “no contact” provision that prohibits the defendant from returning to his home or talking with the alleged victim.

The “no contact” provision can cause serious problems when the person accused and the alleged victim are married, share financial obligations, or have children in common.

When appropriate, an experienced criminal defense attorney can request that the “no contact’ provision not be imposed at first appearance or file a motion to lift the “no contact” provision while the case is pending.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can also show the prosecutor reasons why the charges should be dropped before trial. If the charges are not dropped before trial, the criminal defense attorney can take the deposition of witnesses and file any appropriate motions to suppress or exclude evidence or dismiss the charges entirely.

Attorney for Domestic Violence in Hernando County, FL

If you were accused of a crime involving domestic violence then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm. We represent clients at all stages of the case. In some cases, we are hired before an arrest warrant is issued or before the person is taken to jail.

In other cases, we are retained after the arrest but before the first appearance hearing. At the first appearance hearing, we can ask for the lowest possible bond to be set or for a release ROR. We can also request that the “no contact” provision not be imposed when appropriate.

After the first appearance, we gather all of the favorable evidence to present to the State Attorney’s Office to show the prosecutor why no formal charges should be filed.  If formal charges are filed, we gather all of the evidence and take depositions of the witnesses in order to prepare the case for motion hearings and trial.

The motion hearings in a domestic violence case might involve:

  • a motion to exclude prejudicial evidence;
  • a motion to suppress illegally gathered evidence such as statements taken without a Miranda warning;
  • a stand your ground motion in self-defense cases; or
  • a motion to dismiss charges with insufficient evidence.

Most charges for domestic violence are charged as a misdemeanor for battery or assault. More serious felony domestic violence cases might involve accusations of false imprisonment.

The way the domestic violence occurred might also result in felony charges if any serious injury occurred or a weapon was used. The special status of the alleged victim might also may a domestic violence accusation a felony such as when the alleged victim is pregnant or elderly.

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm also represent clients who are served with a petition for an order of protection against domestic violence, repeat violence, stalking, dating violence, or sexual violence.

We understand the way the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and local police departments handle domestic violence accusations. Let us put our experience to work for you.

Call 813-250-0500 today.


Drop Affidavit for the Victim of Domestic Violence Case in Hernando County

If you are accused of domestic violence, you should NEVER attempt to speak with the alleged victim about the facts of the case or ask them to “drop the charges.” Such a request might be viewed as “witness tampering” which could cause additional charges or result in your being taken into custody.

Instead, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can represent you at every stage. We are sometimes contacted by the alleged victim who wants the charges dropped. We understand the process used in Hernando County, FL, and the reasons why the prosecutor drops the charges.

We recently obtained a form provided to a victim by the State Attorney’s Office in a domestic violence case in Hernando County. The forms in other counties vary widely. The template for the form provides:

Request to Drop Domestic Violence Charges

__ I acknowledge that I am the identified victim in the above-referenced case and it is my desire that this defendant not be prosecuted.

__ I acknowledge that I have been provided information about injunctions for protection and about programs and services in the community which can assist with safe housing, counseling, relocation assistance, and in developing a safety plan.

__ Having been provided with information about resources, I understand that if the charges are dropped, the State Attorney’s Office will be unable to provide me any assistance in seeking protection from this defendant.

__I acknowledge that I have been counseled about the escalating pattern of domestic violence and have been advised of the possibility that this defendant could seriously harm or injure me.

__ I acknowledge that the State Attorney’s Office will be unable to assist me in seeking restitution from this defendant if the charges are dropped.

__ I am requesting this of my own free will and no threats or promises have been made to me or my family to induce me to make this request.

__ I understand the decision to prosecute or not prosecute this charge lies with the State Attorney’s Office and this Request to Drop Charges is only an expression of my wishes.

______________________

Victim’s Signature


The Interview with a Victim/Witness Counselor

After answering questions at the scene and filling out a written statement, the alleged victim might later be contacted by a Victim/Witness Counselor at the State Attorney’s Office.

The Victim/Witness Counselor will complete a Domestic Violence Recommendation form that is marked “Work Product – Not Discoverable” at the top. This means that the defendant’s criminal defense attorney might not be provided a copy.

Although the prosecutor and the State Attorney’s Office has a duty to provide any exculpatory or potentially exculpatory evidence (Brady material) to the criminal defense attorney, they often fail to live up to that duty.

The Victim/Witness Counselor will often complete an interview with the Alleged Victim and complete a DV intake form. The victim interview intake form will ask the alleged victim’s contact information along with many other questions.

The questions listed below were cut and paste from a form used by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. The domestic violence units in other counties use similar forms.

During the intake process – especially if the alleged victim wants the “no contact” provision lifted, the alleged victim might be asked additional questions. Keep in mind that the alleged victim is not required to answer all of these questions, particularly if the answer might tend to incriminate the alleged victim and they decide to exercise their right to remain silent or obtain their own attorney.

  1. What is the relationship between victim and defendant?
    • (Note type of relationship, the length of the relationship and other pertinent details).
  2. Are children in the home?
    • What is the relationship between defendant and children?
    • Was this incident witnessed by the children?
    • What did they see?
    • Were the children in danger during the incident?
    • Get names, ages, and social security numbers of children if possible.
  3. Does victim have concerns regarding the defendant’s treatment of children?
    • Does victim have concerns regarding leaving children alone with defendant?
    • Note any abuse or violence toward children.
    • Look for score sheet multiplier.
    • Are you pregnant?
    • Did the defendant know you were pregnant?
  4. If the children have been victims or witnesses to violence, Florida Law requires this be reported to the Florida Department of Children and Families abuse hotline. 1-800-96-ABUSE (If police report indicates law enforcement called hotline, it is not necessary to call again).
    • Date report made to hotline:
    • Report taken by:
    • (name of abuse registry worker and I.D.#)
  5. Defendants prior relationships:
    • (what information can you obtain about prior abuse)
    • (look for Williams Rule Evidence of prior bad acts).
  6. History of abuse by this defendant:
    • Toward victim/others.
    • Type of abuse and injuries.
    • Has victim ever called law enforcement on this defendant before?
    • Is victim aware of others having been abused by this defendant?
    • Prior violent acts.
    • Is there abuse, or threat of abuse toward children or animals?
  7. Is substance (alcohol/drugs) a factor?
    • Inquire about mental health problems or prior mental health treatment.
    • (Victim and defendant)
    • Are there weapons in the home?
    • Have there ever been threats with weapons?
  8. Has victim had contact with defendant or defendant’s attorney since this incident?
    • What was the nature of the contact?
    • (Explain meaning of no contact order).
  9. Does victim currently have/or has ever had an Injunction for Protection against this defendant?
    • (Get injunction case # and county of issuance).
    • Has victim ever gone to an abuse shelter?
    • If so, get pertinent information which might assist you in the case.
  10. Describe marks, bruises or other injuries if applicable.
    • Was medical care required?
    • Name of hospital or treatment providers.
    • OBTAIN MEDICAL RELEASE if applicable.
    • Inquire if PHOTOS were taken by the medical provider, a family member, shelter care center, friend, other.
    • Who took photos and where were they taken?
    • Are there witnesses to victims injuries?
  11. Are there other witnesses who have information about this incident.
    • Get names, address, and phone numbers.
  12. Do you have any photographs, video, or any other recording of the incident?
  13. Victims background:
    • Prior arrests or convictions.
    • (Look for Brady Material).
  14. The Victim’s wishes regarding this offense.
    • Has anyone made threats or promises to victim or family concerning this case?
  15. Restitution documentation and amount. $_______.
  16. This incident:
    • What Happened? _______________________.

In some cases, the State Attorney’s Office will ask the alleged victim to acknowledge that they have been given information regarding the five (5) education classes required to have the No Contact Order dismissed to allow peaceful contact between the alleged victim and the defendant.

The State Attorney’s Office might also ask the alleged victim to sign and initial a “Domestic Violence Request to Drop Charges” form (although you can use your own form to put it in writing that you want the charges dropped without discussing the facts of the case).


Statement of the Alleged Victim of Domestic Violence

Case Number:

Date:

I, ________________ hereby make this statement to _______, who I know to be a Deputy Sheriff of Hernando County, Florida.

I have been advised that I have the right to remain silent, that anything I say can and will be used against me in a court of law, that I have the right to have an attorney present while I am being questioned and if I cannot afford to hire an attorney, one will be appointed to represent me before any questioning.

No threats, promises, or rewards have been made or offered to me. No force has been used, nor have I suffered any mistreatment, physical or otherwise by any member of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office or anyone else. I make this statement voluntarily and of my own free will, desiring, to tell the truth about this matter…..

I hereby share or affirm that the above statement is true to the best of my knowledge. I further understand that in the event I intentionally provide false information, I can be prosecuted for making a false official statement under F.S.S. 837.06.

Signature

_____________


Additional Resources

Domestic Violence – Hernando County Sheriff’s Office – Visit the website of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office to learn more about their policies and procedures for investigations allegations of felony or misdemeanor domestic violence cases involving assault, battery, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, stalking, or false imprisonment. The article explains why the victim of domestic violence might decide to file an injunction for protection against domestic violence.

The Dawn Center in Hernando County, FL – Since 1986, services for the victims of domestic violence living in Brooksville or Hernando County, FL, are offered by the Dawn Center. The Dawn Center Hotline is (352) 686-8430 and the general office number is (352) 686-8759. The Dawn Center of Hernando County is a certified domestic and sexual violence center. The Dawn Center provides supportive services for the alleged victims of violence at no cost. As a non-profit organization, the Dawn Center is dedicated to creating positive social change in the community. Those services include accompanying the alleged victim to the courtroom or other advocacy services, legal resource planning, assistance with filing a petition for an order of protection from domestic violence, legal assistance from an attorney, attorney referral for family court, or legal representation.

Domestic Violence Statistics in Hernando County – Visit the website of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to fine a graph from the Florida Statistical Analysis Center showing the total reported domestic violence related offenses from 1995 through 2019.


This article was last updated on Wednesday, November 25, 2020.

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