Family violence events are regretful. No amount of wishing can undo what was said and done in the heat of the moment. Sometimes despite our best intentions, a situation spirals out of control as we are led by potent emotions that cloud our thinking.
The aftermath of family violence is perhaps more difficult to manage than the event itself. We’re left with questions about what the event says about ourselves as individuals, what it says about our relationships, and what we can do to repair the situation.
Conflict resolution in personal relationships is perhaps better handled privately, but when family violence leads to the police getting involved it becomes a matter of public record. When a police report leads to criminal charges, the court system now has a fixed place in your home life.
Police intervention is warranted in domestic violence situations. While female victims tend to be the focus of domestic violence awareness campaigns, the truth is anyone can become a victim of violence including men. Peace officers are trained to prevent things from getting worse.
While it’s the job of the police officer to remain neutral when responding to a domestic disturbance call, it is also their responsibility to enforce the law. The onus is on them to determine if a crime was committed with all the facts presented during the time on the scene.
Once the dust settles, getting domestic violence charges dismissed may be difficult, but it’s possible.
Can Domestic Violence Charges Be Dismissed?
Once things cool off, hindsight begins. The accused may object to what was said in the report. The assumed victim may feel the charges against their counterpart are unwarranted.
There are a number of reasons why the parties involved would feel that court remedies are unnecessary. Once the parties accept the reports are irrevocable and that a criminal charge has been initiated, they may now look for ways to prevent a conviction.
The fate of the criminal charges is in the hands of the prosecutor. Only they can make the decision to pursue or decline a domestic violence charge against the accused. The weaker the case, the more hope there is of having the domestic violence case dismissed.
It’s up to the prosecutor to evaluate the evidence and decide whether or not the case is worth the pursuit of a conviction.
Who Files Domestic Violence Charges?
Reports are filed by an interested party. This is typically the police, the assumed victim, or a third party (like a relative of the victim).
For a criminal charge to be filed, the prosecutor must build a case. If the report contains compelling reasons that a domestic violence offense occurred, they move ahead with criminal charges.
Who Can Drop Domestic Violence Charges?
While the police and the interested parties are instrumental in someone being brought up on charges, only a prosecutor from the District Attorney office has the authority to drop the charges. A judge can find a defendant not guilty in a trial which equates to a dismissal of the charges.
Can the Victim of a Domestic Violence Case Drop Assault Charges?
The assumed victim of domestic violence may want to be their own advocate and assert their own wishes on what happens with the case, but they do not have the power to drop the charges. It’s not like a civil case where the petitioner can drop the case.
Once it is found that a criminal act occurred, it’s up to the state to seek justice in the matter.
The state must determine whether or not the allegations are worthy of further action. If they find the case isn’t strong enough to endure a criminal process, they may agree to drop the charges.
Why Would a Prosecutor Drop Charges
A number of factors are involved when a prosecutor decides to pursue a case. The severity of the assault, cooperation of the assumed victim, and the amount of reasonable doubt cast on the case are all taken into consideration.
Domestic Violence Categories:
- Simple Domestic Violence
- Assault Family Violence while impeding breath
- Aggravated Assault
- Corporal Injury
Because penal consequences are lasting and severe, the standard of proof is higher for criminal cases. A case that is more difficult to prove may present enough hurdles to discourage a prosecutor from moving forward with it which opens a possibility for dropped charges.
The evidence must be consistent with the statements, and the statements should be consistent with one another. While anything can be said in a report, such claims need to be supported with witness accounts, photographs, audio/video recordings, text messages, social media posts, etc.
The big question – With all of the facts at hand, is it likely that it can be proven before a jury in court? If the case is weak against the accused, the prosecutor may decide it’s not worth the time or resources to continue with the case.
With the help of a defense attorney, you can put together a strategy to weaken the case against you or prove your innocence.
Potential Issues That Raise Doubt:
- Insufficient corroborating evidence of violence at the scene.
- No witnesses/third party to corroborate allegations of violence or battery.
- Unlawfully obtained evidence.
- Inconsistency between statements.
- Unreasonable claims in the victim’s statement or statements.
- Lack of visible injuries.
- Personal motives against the defendant.
- Victim’s mental illness history.
- Victim’s use of drugs or alcohol.
- Victim’s lack of cooperation in building the case or testifying.
- Mistaken identity of the defendant.
- Defendant’s self-defense
- Defendant’s lack of prior domestic violence convictions.
- Plausibility of the statement from the defendant at the scene of the incident.
With enough inconsistencies and flaws in the evidence, the case against the accused begins to unravel and raises reasonable doubt. The weaker the case, the better the chances are of getting domestic violence charges dropped or acquitted at trial.
How to Get Domestic Violence Charges Dismissed
Working toward clarity and a peaceful resolution is the ideal outcome of domestic violence situations. People who were at odds at the time of the disturbance call can come together to work toward a favorable outcome.
Affidavit of Non-Prosecution
An affidavit of non-prosecution gives the assumed victim a chance to speak on their own behalf in the case and clear up any inaccuracies surrounding the case.
This involves the assumed victim meeting with a witness coordinator to create a sworn statement about the events. In this document, they can contradict the details of the original reports and clear up any misunderstandings for a more accurate account of events.
This document can also include a request that the charges be dropped along with an explanation as to why they ask for this. The document will be notarized and then filed with the case.
We recommend the assumed victim have an attorney present for this interview who will also review the affidavit before it is notarized.
Meet with the Prosecutor
Next is the meeting with the prosecuting attorney. The affidavit is reviewed with the parties present.
The prosecutor has a chance to reevaluate the circumstances of the case and determine an appropriate resolution.
Cases Dropped with Conditions
If the affidavits and interviews are successful in convincing the prosecutor to drop the charges, they have the leeway to place certain conditions to the dismissal.
Conditions On the Defendant
A peace bond may be put in place to hold the defendant accountable and have good behavior for a specified period of time (no further arrests).
Classes or counseling may be required as a condition of the dismissal. The defendant may be required to attend anger management.
Conditions On the Victim
It may be required that the victim releases the prosecution from any further responsibility with the case.
Additionally, the victim may be required to attend a domestic violence awareness class.
Cases of Aggravated Domestic Violence
Cases with evidence of severe bodily injuries or that involve the use of a deadly weapon are much more compelling in favor of domestic violence criminal charges being filed. These situations create a clearer picture of intent to cause serious harm to another which is a serious criminal matter.
In such cases of aggravated assault, getting domestic violence charges dismissed is far more complicated and requires a well planned and coordinated defense.
Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney to Fight Your Case
Having criminal charges over your head makes an already regrettable situation feel even worse. Depending on the prosecutor assigned, getting domestic violence charges dismissed presents a challenge.
We recommend you not agree to any further interviews or answer any questions from a law enforcement officer without an attorney present. We also recommend you do not delay in hiring an attorney to help you determine what is the best path to getting the charges dropped.
The sooner you contact us to help you with your case, the sooner we can come up with your best chance for a dismissal. The circumstances surrounding domestic violence are confusing and complex, but with our experience, we’ll clear a path toward the best possible outcome for you.
James Gill has many years of experience serving as both an Austin DWI lawyer but also as a domestic violence attorney in Texas.
Call today to schedule a consultation at 512-448-4560. The Law Offices of James Gill, PLLC serves all of Austin, Westlake, Kyle, Buda, San Marcos, and the surrounding TX communities.