Can You Change Your Mind and Drop a Domestic Violence Charge?
It happens often—in the heat of a domestic dispute, things escalate and there’s physical contact. The police are called, the perpetrator goes to jail and domestic violence charges are filed. When things have calmed down, there’s frequently a desire, on the part of the victim, to drop the charges and try to move forward. Is that possible?
Can a Victim of Domestic Violence Drop the Charge?
No. There are typically two components to a domestic violence case—the charges filed against the alleged perpetrator and the request for a protective or restraining order, preventing the alleged perpetrator from making contact with or coming near the victim. The domestic violence charges against the alleged perpetrator are criminal charges, which may only be initiated and filed by a prosecutor. Similarly, only the prosecutor (or a judge) can withdraw or dismiss those charges.
The domestic violence charges will be filed based on evidence obtained by the prosecutor, the bulk of which may come from statements or testimony by the alleged victim. Accordingly, the prosecutor may consider the wishes of the victim when determining whether or not to drop domestic violence charges. However, because there is often coercion or undue influence exerted by the perpetrators of domestic violence on their victims, prosecutors are generally reluctant to withdraw charges, once they have been filed. Instead, it’s more often common practice to set a hearing, take testimony and let a judge decide whether there’s sufficient evidence to support the domestic violence charge.
While the victim does not have the power to withdraw a domestic violence charge, the alleged perpetrator can ask his or her attorney to work directly with prosecutors to determine whether the charges can be reduced or dismissed. The prosecutor will have sole discretion in this matter. That means that the prosecutor may choose to dismiss a domestic violence charge even when a victims does not want to do so, or may choose to prosecute when the victim wants the charges dropped.
Restraining or Protective Orders
In the aftermath of alleged domestic violence, a restraining order may be put in place to protect the alleged victim. However, it’s the victim who chooses whether or not to file for a protective order—it’s not the prosecutor. A victim may opt not to ask the court for such an order and may, after having one put in place, petition the court to have it lifted or terminated. If a victim does so, the court will typically hold hearings to determine whether the victim is acting voluntarily or has been intimidated or coerced into doing so.
Contact the Proven Divorce and Family Law Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with an aggressive and knowledgeable family law attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at 844-402-2992. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.