• Seminole County judge sentences domestic abuse victim to jail for not showing up to court


    SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - A Seminole County man served 16 days in jail after allegedly choking the mother of his baby in front of their 1-year-old.

    Channel 9 learned the victim also ended up in jail because she didn’t show up for her abuser’s trial.

    Anyone who failed to show up for a court hearing or subpoena can be held in contempt of court, but throwing a domestic violence victim in jail for it is rare.

    The judge had other options, like imposing a fine instead of three days in jail.

    The woman was hurt inside a Sanford townhome, where prosecutors said a man attacked the mother of his child.

    According to an April arrest report, the man placed his hands around the woman’s neck and choked her, and grabbed a kitchen knife, but she wound up in the Seminole County Jail after refusing to testify, which is common for domestic abuse victims.

    The woman told prosecutors she was not going to attend the trial regardless of whether she was subject to a court order.

    County Judge Jerri Collins ruled the blatant refusal by the victim of a violent attack wouldn’t be tolerated.

    “We cannot have people deciding which court orders we will obey or not obey,” she said.

    The abuser has a past domestic violence conviction.

    After the key witness backed out, the state was only able to get a sentence of 16 days.

    Former Chief Judge Belvin Perry said though some may see a contempt charge as re-victimizing the woman, the law is the law.

    “By not showing up and ignoring the court’s order, you limit yourself as to your possible choices and outcomes,” he said.

    The judge would not comment on why she chose three days jail time.

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