A domestic battery charge filed last weekend against actress and former political commentator Stacey Dash has been dropped.
The Pasco County Clerk & Comptroller posted an update on its website Friday.
According to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, Dash, 52, and a man became involved in an argument just before 8 p.m. on Sunday. Deputies claimed Dash pushed the man and slapped him in the face.
Deputies arrived and took her into custody.
The 5-foot-4, 108-pound star from the 1995 film Clueless owns a home in Pasco County, according to celebrity website TMZ.
Under Florida law, domestic violence or domestic battery is defined as any actual and intentional touching or striking of another person without consent, or the intentional causing of bodily harm to another person, when the person struck is a “family or household member.”
Under Section 741.28, Florida Statutes, the term ‘family or household member’ can include the following:
- Wives and husbands;
- Ex-wives and ex-husbands;
- Individuals related by blood or marriage;
- Individuals living together as a family;
- Individuals who have resided together as if a family in the past; and
- Persons who have a child in common (regardless of prior marriage).
The statute specifically requires that the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit. The only exception is for persons who have a child in common.
Prosecutors make decisions on how to file or proceed with a criminal case based on evidence. The following are a few reasons why the prosecution may choose to drop charges of domestic violence:
A major reason for dropping any criminal case is due to insufficient evidence. Successfully prosecuting the accused for domestic violence means that the prosecutor must prove each element of the offense by the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.
The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused:
- Intentionally touched or struck the alleged victim against his or her will; or
- Intentionally caused bodily harm to the alleged victim; or
- Intentionally and unlawfully threatened, either by word or act, to do violence to the victim and, at the time, appeared to have the ability to carry out the threat; or the act of the defendant created in the mind of the alleged victim a well-founded fear that the violence was about to take place
A prosecutor might feel that the element of “intent” is missing. A prosecutor may also feel the evidence of a domestic battery is insufficient because the alleged victim’s credibility is suspect.The victim may have a history of mental illness, making false accusations in the past, or has a motive to exaggerate or fabricate the incident because the parties are involved in a custody or property distribution battle. Any of these reasons could convince the prosecutor that there is insufficient evidence to convict the accused and result in them not filing charges.
The lack of a serious bodily injury could also result in charges being dropped. A serious bodily injury usually means that the victim suffered an injury necessitating medical treatment or serious impairment of a physical condition. These injuries may include:
- Broken limb
- Black eye
- Laceration or cut requiring stitches
If a physician testifies that the injuries were not serious, or that the victim was exaggerating the symptoms, then this could compel the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss the charges.
A prosecutor will review any statements made by the defendant and the alleged victim. In some cases, the alleged victim will make a verbal statement that is different than what they originally said or wrote in their original statement to police. Their version of events could also be inconsistent with their actual physical condition that shows little or no injuries.
A change in the alleged victim’s story or another witness’ story introduces the idea that they are unreliable, have a poor memory, or are just lying. Inconsistencies may include:
- Why the alleged victim was hit
- Relationship between the accused and the alleged victim
- Time of day the incident occurred
- If any drugs or alcohol was consumed by either party involved
- Body part struck
- A change of story or any inconsistencies within the alleged victim’s statement or in other questioning by police
Lack of Injuries
The lack of any visible injuries in no way means that a domestic battery did not occur and the presence of an injury is not required in order for someone to be charged with domestic battery. The prosecution only needs to demonstrate that there is evidence of harmful or offensive touching, which can include pushing or shoving someone, spitting in their face, or intentionally touching them in a violent manner. With that said, however, the lack of any visible injuries may persuade the prosecution to not pursue criminal charges.
Lack of Witnesses
In most domestic violence cases, there are no other witnesses to the incident except for the accused and the alleged victim. If there is little to no evidence of an injury or fight, conflicting statements, and the accused has no record of domestic violence, a prosecutor may not wish to proceed with charges.
While no two domestic battery cases are the same, and there are no guarantees, our Pasco County Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you understand how to proceed with an arrest for domestic violence or battery.