If you've been falsely accused of domestic violence, the process can be frustrating -- restraining orders, court dates, and attorneys' fees, and that doesn't even include a possible arrest or jail time. The process can also be frightening if you're facing eviction, being forced to stay away from children, or facing long-term incarceration.
So how can you get prosecutors to drop domestic violence charges? Generally that only happens if they don't believe they can prosecute the case, and that decision will depend on two factors:
If you truly did nothing wrong, domestic violence charges against you will likely be dropped. Prosecutors are bound by an ethical obligation to see that justice is done in every case, not just to obtain a conviction. If prosecutors do not believe a crime has been committed, or that available evidence would not support a conviction in court, ethical standards dictate that they dismiss the case.
So how do you convince law enforcement that you didn't do it? Testimonial or electronic evidence could prove that you weren't even present when the alleged incident happened. Physical evidence could prove that you didn't act violently. But be warned -- while the impulse to prove your innocence or tell your side of the story, be careful what you say or what you share with police. As we know from the Miranda warnings in every cop show or legal drama, anything you say can and will be used against you.
One common misconception about domestic violence charges is that they are filed or dropped by the alleged victim. In fact, they are filed by county or state prosecutors, and therefore can only be dropped by those same prosecutors. So prosecutors can proceed with domestic violence charges, even if the victim wants them dropped. That said, a reluctant or recanting victim can affect a prosecutors charging decision.
If an alleged victim alters his or her story of the alleged incident, and a prosecutor believes the newer version is the truth, they could be convinced that a crime did not occur and drop charges. Or, if an alleged victim refuses to testify or testifies under protest at trial, a prosecutor could decide that they don't have enough independent evidence to gain a conviction. And, as much as popular opinions have changed on domestic violence and we no longer think of abuse as a matter that should stay in the home, many jurors are reluctant to issue a guilty verdict if the alleged victim doesn't think the case should be in court at all.
The best way to assess domestic violence charges against you, and argue they be dropped, is through an experienced criminal defense attorney.
- Facing criminal charges? Get your case reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury - Criminal)
- 5 Things a Domestic Violence Lawyer Can Do (That You Probably Can't) (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Domestic Violence: Orders of Protection and Restraining Orders (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- Top 5 Legal Questions for Victims of Domestic Violence (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)