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For immediate assistance, please call the Florida Domestic
Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119 or TTY (800) 621-4202
Domestic Violence Unit
The Domestic Violence Unit was established to review and file both misdemeanor and felony domestic violence cases and was honored as one of three justice system finalists for the 1995 Governor's Peace at Home Award. The unit balances the needs of the victim and the mandates of the law for vigorous prosecution of domestic and dating violence cases. The primary goal of this unit is to stop the cycle of domestic and dating violence.
This office has a specialized victim advocate who is assigned to assist victims of domestic and dating violence, as well as a specialized trial prosecutor assigned to prosecute repeat offenders for misdemeanor domestic violence cases. The staff in this unit works with law enforcement agencies regarding protocol on domestic violence calls and has provided training and assistance to law enforcement in effective investigation of domestic and dating violence cases.
The attorneys in this unit review all cases of domestic and dating violence received by law enforcement to determine whether or not to file formal charges. Once a case is filed, it is forwarded to a trial division (misdemeanor or felony) for resolution. As part of the resolution of the case, the batterer may be required to seek professional counseling which may include a batterers' intervention program, alcohol or drug treatment, or other appropriate counseling designed to help him/her stop using violence.
What happens when someone is arrested for a crime involving domestic or dating violence?
If the abuser is arrested, the first court appearance and bail hearing will be within twenty-four (24) hours of the arrest at the courtroom at the jail. At the first appearance, the judge may order the defendant not to have contact with the victim and not to return to the victim's residence, among other potential conditions. These are conditions of the defendant's bond and will be in effect as long as the case remains open or until a judge changes the conditions at a subsequent hearing requested by the defendant. There is no specific expiration date for conditions of release, or "no contact orders". It is a first degree misdemeanor for a defendant to violate these bond conditions.
Domestic/dating violence cases received by the State Attorney's Office from law enforcement are reviewed by the Domestic Violence Unit. The attorneys assigned to the domestic violence unit make the ultimate decision on how to proceed with the case based upon the best interests of the victim and the community. In order to make a decision whether or not to file charges in the case, the attorney will request and review evidence (to include witness statements, taped 911 calls, and photographs) from the referring law enforcement agency. Victims are encouraged to contact the domestic violence unit to provide input and to meet with the attorney and/or victim advocate when required.