Personal Injury, Criminal Law, Traffic Violations, and Family Law & Divorce

Victims can’t drop domestic violence charges

On Behalf of | Dec 9, 2016 | Domestic Violence

There’s a common misconception about criminal charges, and it’s that the person who was victimized is the one who brings the charges against the person who is accused of the crime. That’s how civil cases work, but it’s not how criminal cases work. The state actually files those charges, not the victim.

This is important because it means that a victim does not have any ability to determine whether not the case moves forward. Even if he or she wants to end the case, the victim can’t drop those criminal charges. Only the state can.

The idea here is that a crime is a crime, no matter what. Just because the victim doesn’t want the prosecution to punish the person doesn’t make it any less of a crime.

This issue comes up a lot in domestic violence cases since family members are involved. An argument breaks out, maybe alcohol is involved, things escalate quickly, and one person strikes another. The police show up, everything is chaotic and confusing, and the alleged attacker is arrested. After things calm down, the person who was hit feels like it all just got out of hand, but he or she doesn’t want a family member to go to jail, and so he or she asks for the charges to be dropped.

At that point, though, nothing can be done by that family member. The state issued the charges. The only thing that the victim can do is to recant, taking back the initial statement, and then charges may be dropped if there’s not enough other evidence.

Again, this is a common misconception, and so it illustrates how important it is to really understand the criminal process if you’ve been accused of domestic violence. This can help guide your actions moving forward.

Source: FIndLaw, “Can the Victim Drop Domestic Violence Charges?,” accessed Dec. 09, 2016