Can a Victim Have Domestic Violence Charges Dropped?

We are often asked whether the victim has the authority to have domestic violence charges dropped. Once the prosecutor’s office has issued domestic assault or domestic battery charges, the victim has no authority over the case.

Why can't a victim drop domestic violence charges?

Domestic violence is a crime. The process behind criminal cases is frequently misunderstood. A lot of people believe that victims of crimes, or the police, issue charges. This is incorrect.

Crimes are governed by the State. The State – usually the county prosecutor’s office – decides whether or not to move forward with domestic assault or battery charges. 

Even though victims cannot drop domestic violence charges, they frequently want to change or recant their statements to law enforcement. Recanting is when someone takes back their original statement.

For example, one spouse may have initially told the police the other hit them. However, they may want to later recant that statement and say that their spouse did not hit them. It’s generally not a good idea for someone to recant their statement, unless they actually lied to authorities.

Why recanting statements doesn't work

Recanting also will not force the prosecutor to drop their case since. The following ALWAYS allows a prosecutor to prosecute a domestic violence case despite any recanting:

  • Police reports
  • Photographs
  • Recordings of 911 calls
  • Statements or threats made via email or on social media
  • Medical records
  • Eyewitness accounts.

Moreover, most prosecutors are quite aggressive when it comes to pursuing uncooperative victims.

Also, those who recant could face criminal charges for falsifying information to law enforcement. Similarly, those who fail to attend court could be held in contempt by the court. This would then result in a warrant for arrest.  

The process following a domestic violence situation can be confusing and emotionally challenging. Please contact our law firm of experienced criminal defense attorneys to help guide you as the process moves forward. 

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