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Domestic violence victims can’t drop charges

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Contrary to common belief, victims of domestic violence don’t have the authority to drop charges once they are filed. This decision rests solely with the prosecutor or the court. 

Defendants in these cases shouldn’t ever think that making up with the alleged victim or trying to force them to drop charges will help anything. 

The prosecutor’s role in domestic violence cases

Once a domestic violence incident is reported and charges are filed, the case transitions from a private matter to one of public interest. This shift means the prosecutor’s office takes over. The prosecutor is responsible for assessing the evidence impartially and deciding whether to pursue or drop charges. Prosecutors often proceed with cases even if the victim is reluctant to testify.

The victim’s influence on the case

Although the victim can’t directly dismiss charges, their willingness to cooperate can impact the proceedings. If a victim chooses not to testify or is unresponsive, it can pose challenges for the prosecution, but this doesn’t automatically lead to dropped charges. Prosecutors may rely on other forms of evidence, such as medical records, police reports and eyewitness testimonies. 

Importance of legal representation for defendants

Relying on the victim to drop charges isn’t a viable defense strategy. Defense strategies in domestic violence may include challenging the validity of the evidence, presenting counter-narratives or negotiating plea deals. Alternative resolutions like counseling or rehabilitation programs may be proposed in certain situations, particularly in less severe cases. 

Domestic violence charges can have far-reaching effects on one’s personal and professional life. A conviction may result in legal consequences like fines or imprisonment. It can also impact child custody arrangements, employment opportunities and social relationships. Given these potential consequences, a proactive and informed approach to defense is essential.