Victims' Right Not to Prosecute?

In the State of Florida, victims of crimes has protected constitutional right. They have the right to be informed, to be present, and to be heard when relevent, at all crucial stages of criminal proceedings, to the extent that those rights do not interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused.

However, one right that the victim does not have is the right to drop charges against the Defendant. Many victims of crime think that they are the ones who press charges. That is not true. The Office of the State Attorney decides whether charges are brought, not the victim. A victim may request not to prosecute, but the State is free to ignore this request. Moreover, the jury is not allowed to hear any evidence that the victim of a crime does not want to prosecute.

When a person is convicted of a crime, there are consequences that effects more than just that person. For instance, if a husband who is the sole bread winner for a family is sentenced to jail time, the innocent victim could end up losing her home and ability to take care of the children because the husband went to jail and lost his job because of it. Another example of this is when a fifteen year girl becomes pregnant with her 18 year old boyfriend. Convicting the father of that baby of a sex offense is condemning that child to a life of probable poverty and negative social stigma.

Many victims of domestic violence are afraid to report the crimes of their loved ones out of fear that incareation would hurt them and their families. Victims of crimes whould be the ones who make the decision as to whether they wish to prosecute. Unfortunately, this is not the law.

Posted on Dec 09, 2016