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Does a victim get a say in dropping of domestic violence charges?

| Mar 5, 2021 | Domestic Violence

When police are called to the scene of a domestic dispute, the alleged abuser in the dispute may be arrested even if the victim opposes the arrest. Prosecutors will then decide whether to file domestic violence charges against the alleged abuser based on the circumstances surrounding the arrest and the evidence available.

As domestic violence disputes generally occur between two people who have a romantic or familial relationship, the alleged victim may decide they do not want to press charges against the alleged abuser. However, alleged victims have no control over whether the prosecutor goes forward with the charges. The prosecutor will make their decision after carefully reviewing the facts of the case and evaluating the evidence, regardless of the alleged victim’s reluctance to file charges.

Reasons prosecutors may drop the charges

While a prosecutor will not drop the charges solely because the alleged victim wants the charges dropped, they may be less likely go forward with the charges if they don’t believe the case will result in a conviction. Some reasons to drop the charges may include:

  • Alleged victim’s lack of cooperation
  • Inconsistent statements from alleged victim and/or alleged abuser
  • Lack of evidence or evidence that was illegally obtained
  • Lack of witnesses
  • Self-defense
  • Mistaken identity of the alleged abuser
  • Lack of visible injury
  • Alleged victim’s drug/alcohol use

If the prosecutor decides to file charges, it is the job of the defense attorney representing the alleged abuser to poke holes in the prosecutor’s case and find as many flaws in the evidence as possible. If there are too many inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case, it is very possible that the charges may be dismissed.