UPDATED 7/8/2021, Original Post: October 25, 2018
In the heat of the moment, we can all say and do things that we regret. Domestic violence situations often involve these regrettable actions.
So do false domestic violence accusations.
There are a handful of reasons why an alleged victim would report domestic violence, but before they know it, they are faced with testifying in court and seeing their partner face jail time, custody loss, or other penalties.
The whole case would be dropped if the victim just took back their accusation, right?
Not so fast. Even if the alleged victim was the sole witness to the alleged domestic violence, they alone cannot drop charges unless new information has been provided detailing a domestic violence crime has not occurred. Alleged victims can, however, have a big impact on the outcome of a case.
In this post, we are going to detail how you and your criminal defense lawyer can work with an alleged victim of domestic violence to help get your case dismissed.
Why Can’t Texas Domestic Violence Victims Drop a Case?
Before we get into what alleged victims can do, let’s talk about why they alone can’t drop the charges against you.
No Drop Policies of Prosecutors – Domestic violence is a crime in the state of Texas. When someone is accused of domestic violence, the issue is taken up by the state, rather than the victim themselves – and the state will not drop the charges just because the victim takes back their accusations.
Texas wants to create a safe environment for people throughout the state. Over 80% of domestic violence victims may recant their statements, but their intentions are not always for the benefit of themselves or the safety of their community.
Sometimes, victims recant out of fear, the charges are dropped, and the abuser continues to abuse the victim. Obviously, this is not something that law enforcement wants to happen, so the word of victims is not always the final word.
What Alleged Victims of Domestic Violence in Texas Can Do to Help
Not all domestic violence or family violence accusations come from an alleged victim approaching law enforcement. If the police enter a scene that appears to be domestic violence, they will be encouraged to act and arrest the person that they believe is the abuser. They may misinterpret the situation and make a mistake.
Other times, as mentioned above, one partner might make a false accusation then later regret it. In any case, their testimony can have a huge impact on the outcome of the case.
If the alleged victim genuinely and sincerely wants the case to be dismissed, they have a few options:
- They can talk directly to the prosecutor. Remember, it is up to the prosecutor to drop the charges. It is unlikely that a simple request to dismiss the case will result in dropped charges, but it is worth the effort to call and make certain the prosecutor is aware of any facts that show a domestic violence crime did not occur.
For instance, if the alleged victim was unclear in the original statement as to whether she suffered any injury or pain, it is critical that this fact be shared with the prosecutor. Why? Because physical pain is an element of the crime of domestic violence assault that must be proven by the prosecutor. This new fact creates exculpatory evidence that tends to show the person charged with the crime did not commit a crime.
- They can give testimony in favor of the defendant. Throughout the case, it will be up to the alleged victim to recant their testimony and show that they want charges dropped. If the domestic violence case proceeds to a jury trial, the alleged victim can recant their testimony or provide any important information that would clear up any confusion about what happened. A criminal defense lawyer can help you through this process.
- They can provide an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution. Although an affidavit of non-prosecution, that merely requests for the case to be dropped, will not result in a dismissal; an affidavit that outlines facts that create reasonable doubt for the domestic violence charge can be extremely helpful in disposing of a case.
For example, if an alleged victim realizes that the original police reports did not accurately reflect what happened because they were in an emotional state that clouded their judgement, the alleged victim can provide facts in the affidavit that can greatly improve the defense’s prospects of getting the case dismissed. An experienced criminal defense attorney can provide you guidance in this process.
- They can remain calm and seek professional help. The symptoms of domestic violence are not just physical – domestic violence also deeply affects mental and emotional health. If an alleged victim wants to show that they have not been negatively impacted through domestic violence, they need to remain calm and prove that they are emotionally stable. A psychological assessment can be used as evidence to show that the alleged victim has not been subject to any severe domestic violence.
Stay calm – defendants are innocent until proven guilty. Charges are not convictions, and with the help of the alleged victim and your criminal defense lawyer, you will have a better chance at getting your case dismissed.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.