Violence against a spouse or domestic partner in California is a severe crime with severe consequences. Even if the victim recants the accusations of abuse, a domestic violence case is not automatically dismissed in most circumstances.
The prosecution must consider numerous criteria while determining how to dismiss domestic violence charges in California. As a result, it is critical to comprehend them. Suppose you have been accused of abuse in the state. In that case, it is essential to understand your rights and the process of facing domestic violence charges in court.
The Possibility to Drop California Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic violence is a crime that is often misunderstood, leading to a slew of perplexing inquiries. You should not make the mistake of equating false allegations of domestic violence with legitimate domestic violence complaints.
The accuser may contact authorities without really intending to accuse someone of domestic abuse. Some individuals may call to frighten someone or vent their emotions, even if there is no evidence of violence. However, some victims opt not to disclose the abuse out of concern for their partner’s safety.
Whatever reason the victim has for regretting or rescinding his allegation, once the victim contacts the authorities, the issue is no longer in his control. Domestic violence charges cannot be dismissed if the police are engaged. The prosecution must decide whether to prosecute the attacker for domestic violence depending on the evidence and circumstances.
Many prosecuting authorities have adopted a “no drop” policy in the case of domestic violence allegations. They want to convey the message that domestic violence allegations must be treated seriously, even if victims subsequently change their versions of events out of fear of the abuser.
Even though the prosecution will continue to bring charges against the defendant, some circumstances may still impact the likelihood of the DV charges being dismissed.
Factors That Can Influence a Domestic Violence Charge May Be Dropped
Neither the accuser nor the victim has the power to drop domestic violence charges. The district attorney has the sole authority to dismiss domestic violence cases at the court level.
Five reasons may affect a prosecutor’s decision to dismiss California domestic violence charges.
Insufficiency of Evidence
The prosecution must establish that the defendant committed all the elements of a specific crime in a domestic violence case. That the defendant touched another person “intentionally” and that the contact was hurtful or insulting. Additionally, that “someone person” is the intimate partner, whether present or past.
Willful contact is the most contentious aspect of the case. Without the desire or purpose to commit the crime, the prosecution will have difficulty establishing that the touching was deliberate. As a result, the charges may be dropped, and the case dismissed.
Act of Self-Defense or Result from an Accident
To further undermine the credibility of the DV evidence provided, the defendant may assert that the defendant acted in self-defense or because of an accident when the violence occurred. Consequently, the prosecution cannot utilize the element of “willfully inflicting physical harm” specified in Penal Code 273.5 against the defendant.
Valid evidence and reliable witness testimony are needed to prove the accusation. Suppose it is determined that the violence was accidental. In that case, the accusations against the defendant may be dropped and the case dismissed.
Inconsistency of Statements
Statements are critical evidence in bringing domestic violence accusations. The prosecutor must examine the statements to ensure there are no contradictory testimonies from both parties and their witnesses to verify them. The statements’ discrepancy may relate to the cause of the violence, the two parties’ relationship, the date of the event, or the body part being hit.
The prosecution may obtain statements from the police officer who reacted to the incident first and the court-ordered written statement. If these two statements conflict, the prosecutor will see them as invalid and unreliable in the case. As a result, the charges may be dropped, and the case dismissed.
Absence of Visible Injuries
Domestic violence doesn’t need to result in visible injuries. A defendant doesn’t need to face domestic violence prosecution. To charge someone with domestic abuse, the prosecution must demonstrate that the person was subjected to harmful or offensive touching that did not result in bodily injury.
A witness who does not exhibit apparent injuries may make it more challenging to establish that an offense happened. As a result, the charges may be dropped, and the case dismissed.
Absence of Independent Witnesses
Witnesses and their statements are critical to the success of DV cases. Numerous instances of domestic abuse go unreported. It is not to say that a defendant cannot be arrested since police officers may arrest someone based on accusations or evidence gathered at the incident site.
Independent witnesses act as a check on the veracity of both parties’ testimonies. Suppose both parties and the witness provide contradictory statements, or there is no independent witness. In that case, the charges may be dropped, and the case dismissed.
Submission of Drop Charge Request
A Drop Charge Request or Reject Request Letter is another method to convince the prosecutor to drop the case. With the assistance of an experienced domestic violence attorney, the defendant may submit a letter to the prosecutor. This letter will explain the insufficiency of evidence to prosecute or the substantial reasonable doubt that the defendant committed an act of domestic violence.
You could be charged with a domestic crime in many different circumstances. There are defenses that you can use if you are accused of domestic violence. Keep in mind that domestic violence is distinct from other types of crime, particularly true if you are innocent.
If you are wrongly accused of domestic violence, you should hire an experienced and trusted domestic crime lawyer. It will help you avoid being in a situation where you’re left wondering what to do or who to contact if you are charged. Contact Law Offices of Leon F. Bennett today and be assisted by our expert legal advisors.