Florida Woman Sentenced To Jail After Refusing To Testify In Domestic Abuse Trial

| by Jordan Smith
Judge Jerri CollinsJudge Jerri Collins

A Florida judge sentenced a victim of domestic abuse to jail time after the woman failed to appear to testify in a Seminole County courtroom in July. A video of the hearing has recently been released.

Judge Jerri Collins issued the ruling in a July 30 hearing for the unidentified woman, ABC News reported.

“You were required to be here by a court order,” Collins told the woman in court, according to ABC. “You disobeyed a court order, knowing that this was not going to turn out well for the state.”

The woman was subpoenaed to attend court on July 22 to give evidence in a case against her former boyfriend. He attacked her in their home and pulled a kitchen knife on her in April with a 1-year-old child present, according to court documents. He was sentenced separately to 16 days in jail.

“Your honor, I'm very sorry for not attending the last one,” the woman said. “I’ve been dealing with depression and just a lot personally since this happened. My anxiety is like, this is everyday for me.”

“You haven't even seen anxiety. We had a jury -- six people there -- ready to try [the accused], who has a prior criminal history of domestic violence,” Judge Collins responded, according to the Daily Mail.

Collins could have sentenced the woman to community service, but chose jail time.

“I find you in contempt of court. I hereby sentence you to three days in the county jail,” the judge said.

“Judge, I'll do anything. ... I have a 1-year-old son and I'm trying to take care of him by myself," she responded, according to ABC. "I'm begging you, please, please don’t."

The State Attorney’s Office explained the contempt of court finding in a statement.

“The case was poised for trial and a jury was sworn. The victim refused to attend court the day of trial, going so far as to tell the State Attorney's Office that she didn't care if she was arrested as a result of her not complying with the court's subpoena. The victim's decision to thwart the court process by refusing to cooperate, despite a properly issued subpoena for her to appear in court, triggered the State to pursue an Order to Show Cause against her, and the Court's subsequent sentence."

A support group for abuse victims strongly criticized Judge Collins’ decision.

“There's no -- absolutely nothing that I could think of that would be the reason to re-victimize this person by putting her in jail, and so I don't understand where that thinking came from,” Jeanne Gold, head of the SafeHouse organization, told ABC.

Sources: Daily Mail, ABC News / Photo credit: WFTV via Daily Mail