On occasion, there are circumstances where police are called to chaotic scenes where tempers and stress are high. After the situation calms, it’s not uncommon for the alleged victim to regret calling law enforcement.

Unfortunately, the police can arrest you despite the alleged victim’s wishes. That’s why it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney like Erika Valcarcel on your side.

Call us immediately at (941) 363-7900 if you’ve been arrested and face charges.

Why Can’t the Victim Stop the Police from Making an Arrest?

While crimes may have a human victim, the illegal act itself is considered a crime or wrongdoing against society or the public. This is because criminal acts represent a violation of laws that are enacted to protect the general public and maintain an orderly society. When someone commits a crime, they are breaching the social contract and shared moral code that allows communities to function safely and peacefully.

An individual has no power to independently prosecute a crime. The state or federal judicial system must do it. In other words, it is the government’s job to seek justice on behalf of society and victims. So, when the police are called to the scene of a possible crime, they have the authority to make an arrest if they determine there is probable cause to do so.

What Is Probable Cause?

Probable cause is a legal standard that law enforcement must meet to justify an arrest or conduct a search. It essentially means that, based on the facts and circumstances known to them, a reasonable person would believe a crime has been committed or is currently happening.

It’s important to understand that probable cause doesn’t require absolute certainty, but rather a strong likelihood based on available evidence. For example, if police are called for a domestic disturbance and find upon arrival broken furniture, a hole in the wall, and a victim with visible injuries, there is probable cause to make an arrest – even if the victim is begging police not to do so.

What Happens after You’re Arrested?

Once an arrest is made, the case is transferred to the prosecutor handling the case and that office begins a “pre-filing investigation” (PFI). Part of that process is talking with the victim.

Even if the victim indicates an unwillingness to proceed, the prosecutors may decide to file charges anyway. A prosecutor may disregard the victim’s wishes if they believe arresting the perpetrator will protect the public, if the defendant has a lengthy criminal history, or has committed a similar offense previously.

What Are Victims’ Rights in Florida?

Even though pressing charges isn’t solely the victim’s decision, Florida law guarantees victims certain rights throughout the criminal justice process. These include the right to be informed of court proceedings, to be present during hearings, and most importantly, the right to be heard. This means victims can submit a victim impact statement, a powerful tool that allows them to share the emotional and personal consequences of the crime. The statement can be presented in writing or verbally during hearings like sentencing or parole, directly impacting the judge or parole board’s decision.

However, remember that prosecutors, while considering the victim’s perspective, hold the ultimate authority to pursue charges. Even if a victim advocates for leniency or expresses a desire to drop charges, the prosecutor may decide to move forward based anyway.

What Is a Waiver of Prosecution?

The purpose is to express the victim’s desire for the case not to proceed through the court system. This can be due to wanting to avoid the emotional toll of a trial, fear of retaliation, or a desire for reconciliation. However, a waiver doesn’t guarantee the charges will be dropped.

Prosecutors ultimately decide whether to pursue the case based on the severity of the crime, the strength of the evidence gathered by law enforcement (independent of the victim’s testimony), and the potential impact on public safety. As you can see, even if your victim wants the matter dropped and signs a sworn waiver of prosecution, you could still face criminal legal proceedings. That is why you need defense counsel right away.

Facing Criminal Charges Despite the Victim’s Wishes? Call Today

Sometimes things happen and in the heat of the moment police are called. After events have calmed, there may be those who wished they hadn’t involved the legal system. Unfortunately, there may be little a victim can do to stop prosecution.

If you find yourself in this situation, you need Sarasota criminal defense lawyer Erika Valcarcel to fight for you. Attorney Valcarcel knows how to work with prosecutors to present arguments that you shouldn’t face charges, or that they should be reduced. Don’t ever try to work it out by yourself. No matter how friendly the police or prosecutors are, your best interests are not their priority.

Contact Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. at (941) 363-7900 to schedule an appointment. Don’t delay and don’t talk to police or prosecutors about your case before consulting Attorney Valcarcel.

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