You are a battered wife. Once again, your husband is punching and physically harming you. Your friend, who lives next door, contacted the police who arrived just in time to stop the beating. They then charge your spouse with domestic violence.
You find yourself in a chaotic situation. Surely, you don’t want your husband to abuse you, but neither do you want him to get entangled in legal imbroglio. A lot of women in your same situation, sadly, feel the responsibility to protect their abuser: their own husband. Suddenly, they want the charges against their husband dropped.
The question is, can a victim of domestic violence drop the charges? NO, the victim cannot drop the charges.
Why a Domestic Violence Victim Cannot Drop the Charges
Once a domestic violence charge has been issued by the office of the state prosecutor or the police, there is no way that the victim can drop the charges. This is because domestic violence is categorized as a crime.
Many people misunderstand the process behind the filing of criminal charges. The state governs and issues criminal charges and not the victim. If you are a victim of domestic violence, you have no authority to drop the charges, which you did not issue, in the first place. It is up to the state, specifically the Prosecutor’s Office, to decide whether or not to proceed with the case. However, as the victim, you have a significant role in the proceedings.
The Role of the Victim in a Domestic Violence Case
As the victim, the court may require you to testify against the accused, in case there is a trial. You may also be brought in to air your opinion. Some states allow the victim to refuse to testify in court, although the refusal may come with penalties.
When coming up with a decision to release the accused, the judge may invite you, as the victim, to express your opinion on whether or not you agree with the decision to release, and why.
The victim’s role is not limited to being passive, however. It is not confined to just testifying or giving your opinions in court. Although you cannot file a criminal case, you have the right to file a civil case. This way, you can claim compensation for the personal injuries you sustained, psychological injuries, lost wages, as well as cost of living.
You likewise have protection options. You can request for a restraining order against the accused. A restraining order can help guaranty your safety. For one, there are restraining orders that will require the subject to surrender his guns while the restraining order is in effect.
Depending on the state, you may be allowed to have an early release from your current lease. This option can prove to be helpful if you fear that your spouse may harm you again after being released. This will allow you to find a new place to live in, separate from your spouse.
Recanting a Victim’s Statement
Although domestic violence victims can’t drop the criminal charges against their abusers, many victims opt to recant the statements they issued to investigators and police officers. Some battered wives do it in hopes of having the charges against their spouses dropped.
However, recanting will not affect the state’s decision on whether to proceed or drop the case. The case can still be prosecuted using other evidences including police reports and photographs.
The court takes cases of domestic violence seriously. Thus, dropping a charge is not easy, most especially when children are involved. If you need more information about about getting a restraining order or domestic violence charges, contact the Law Offices of Gary L. Rohlwing.