Can the Victim Drop Domestic Violence Charges?


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Even though domestic violence is common, it may sometimes be misunderstood – or the parties involved in it want to avoid certain legal action.

For example, a neighbor or relative may call the police on your spouse as they engage in domestic abuse. Depending on the situation, you may not want to press charges and avoid any other trouble.

In fact, in most cases, the abused spouse doesn’t want to complicate their marriage or situation with legal action. As such, some try to drop the domestic violence charges they’ve made against their partner.

But – can they do so?

The Legal System

First of all, it is worth mentioning that crimes are governed by the State. As such, when you file a domestic violence complaint and the prosecutor’s office issues a domestic violence charge, the State is responsible for those charges, and not the victim.

Although you may think you’re the one that can press and drop charges, in this scenario, you are only the victim. Keep in mind that one can only press charges but not issue them.

The entity that issues charges against an individual will always be the State.

However, the victim still has a significant role to play in this whole legal matter as the proceedings of the domestic violence charge advance.

The Role of the Victim

For someone charged with domestic violence, the victim may or may not be helpful.

For example, victims can testify within a trial if they wish to do so. They can choose not to, but keep in mind that some states issue fines for refusal to testify. Some states consider this a crime and may charge you for it.

The victim can also explain their opinions to the court. As such, right before the judge rules on the abuser, the victim may be invited to tell the court whether they think the abuser should be released or charged.

Change of Statement

As mentioned above, the victim cannot drop the charges of domestic violence. Instead, they can change/ recant the statement that they gave to investigators and police.

However, keep in mind that recanting doesn’t mean that the charges will be dropped. The State will use every piece of information they have to determine whether they should drop or pursue this case.

Even if you lie and change your statement, the State can still look at photographs, police reports, and any other evidence. Moreover, if you recant and the State proves that you falsified information, you may face criminal charges.

The Bottom Line

We understand that a lot of abused people would rather drop the charges than be in danger later on in their life. Statistics show that roughly 90% of domestic violence victims recant and end up not sending the abuser behind bars – or at least behind a restraining order.

Still, there are a lot of other ways through which you can protect yourself if you’ve been a victim of domestic violence. The State is on your side and can ensure your safety without you having to try and drop the charges against the abuser!


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