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Victims can’t drop charges in a domestic violence case

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2024 | Domestic Violence

Facing domestic violence charges is often a complex situation, partially because of the risk of criminal consequences and partially due to the fact that it involves a personal relationship. Some people may think that they can reconcile with the alleged victim and have charges dropped, but that’s not how it works.

One challenge that occurs in these cases is that there’s usually a restraining order involved. This means that the defendant can’t have any contact with the alleged victim, so that takes away the possibility of talking about them talking about the matter.

Prosecutors are in control of the case

In criminal proceedings, including those involving domestic violence, the decision to file charges, pursue a case and dismiss charges lies with the prosecutor, not the victim. The prosecutor represents the state and the public interest, which aims to uphold the law and ensure justice.

When a domestic violence incident is reported, and law enforcement is involved, the prosecutor will review the evidence and decide whether to file charges based on the likelihood of securing a conviction. They must also consider the need to protect the community and the alleged victim.

Reasons victims can’t drop criminal charges

Once the prosecutor files charges in a domestic violence case, the case becomes a matter between the state and the defendant. The alleged victim becomes a witness for the prosecution rather than a party to the case.

This distinction is crucial because it means that the alleged victim’s desire to drop the charges doesn’t directly influence the prosecutor’s decision to continue with the prosecution. This approach is designed to protect genuine victims who may be coerced or threatened into wanting to retract their statements or withdraw support for the prosecution.

Victims may still be integral parts of the case

While alleged victims can’t decide to drop charges, their willingness to cooperate and testify can significantly impact the case. Prosecutors rely on an alleged victim’s testimony and evidence to build a strong case.

If an alleged victim expresses a desire not to proceed, the prosecutor must consider this alongside the case’s merits, the availability of other evidence and the overarching goal of ensuring the victim’s safety and holding the perpetrator accountable.

People who are facing accusations of domestic violence in Texas should ensure they understand the charges against them. They should also understand all the terms of any orders of protection with which they must comply. Having a legal representative who’s familiar with these matters can be beneficial because that professional can outline the options and terms the defendant should know about and work to build a strong defense.