What if the Victim Doesn’t Want to Press Charges?
Domestic violence charges are filed when someone is injured or harmed by someone else. In many situations, the victim is the one who calls the police and reports the incident.
When the situation goes to court, the testimony given by the victim is typically the most compelling; however, there is usually other evidence for these cases, such as medical records, testimony from witnesses, pictures of injuries, and police reports.
In some situations, however, the victim may change their mind when filing domestic violence charges against someone, especially if it is a spouse, partner, or someone else they know.
What if the Victim Doesn’t Want to Press Charges?
Something that is commonly misunderstood about these cases is that, in the state of Michigan, once the authorities are contacted about the incident, no matter if the victim or someone else reports it, the matter is out of the victim’s hands.
If the police determine any domestic violence occurred, including sexual assault, they will investigate and request charges of the alleged guilty party, no matter if the victim wants to press charges or not.
Can the Police Press Charges Against the Victim’s Wishes?
You are arrested, have posted bond (learn how bail bonds work here), and now have a court date. However, you discover that the victim has declined pressing charges for the domestic violence or criminal sexual conduct charge (see CSC degrees). Some believe that victims have the right to “drop the charges;” however, this is not how the situation works. You will likely still have to attend your court date, and the case will likely move on to trial, even if the victim does not wish to pursue charges.
You may wonder how this can happen? It is a good idea to get in touch with domestic violence lawyers or sex offender lawyers at this point to discuss your options and rights, especially if you are a repeat offender.
Understanding the Inner Workings of the Criminal Justice System
When the authorities receive a report of any type of crime, including a violent crime, they may travel to the scene to investigate. At this point, the authorities have the right to charge someone if they find evidence at the scene and probable cause that makes it evident a crime was committed. Even when the victim does not want to press charges, the police can gather evidence and proceed with requesting criminal charges.
Probable cause is defined as a “low standard of proof.” This means that the police find enough evidence that a reasonable person would conclude a crime was committed. Unfortunately, there are situations where someone may make false allegations, but the evidence gathered by the police is compelling enough for them to move forward with an arrest. If this has happened to you, it is smart to contact a criminal defense attorney for assistance.
Does the Victim Have the Right to “Drop Charges” of Domestic Violence?
The victim of domestic abuse can contact the prosecutor’s office and let them know they do not want to press charges. While this is a call that can be made, a victim’s power regarding domestic violence charges is minimal. Only the prosecuting attorney can decide if domestic violence charges should be dropped.
The judge may also decide to dismiss criminal charges if the evidence is insufficient or if probable cause is lacking. While this is true, it does not hinge on the victim‘s wishes. After police officers and the judicial system are involved in domestic abuse cases, the victim does not have control over if the charges are dropped. Even if the victim declines to press charges, you will still be arrested if there is evidence and probable cause.
What Gives the Police the Right to File Charges for Cases of Domestic Violence or Sexual Abuse?
Sometimes, victims of domestic violence begin to feel remorseful for contacting the police. They may see someone get arrested and regret getting the authorities involved. It is important to understand that once the call is made to the police and the police arrive, it is no longer up to the alleged victim as to what happens next.
The state of Michigan controls the prosecution, and if the prosecuting attorney gathers enough evidence to get a guilty verdict, they will move forward and pursue a criminal case, regardless of the victim’s wishes.
The legal system in cases of domestic violence charges can be complex and confusing. Due to this, if you are facing sexual or domestic assault charges, your best option is to get in touch with an attorney from a reputable law office who understands the situation and can gather information from the prosecutor’s office to help you build sexual assault defense strategies against the alleged crime.
What Type of Evidence will the Prosecuting Attorney Use if the Alleged Victim Does Not Cooperate?
If the domestic violence victim does not want to press charges against you, you may wonder what type of evidence can be collected and used against you. In these situations, evidence can come from several different sources. For example, a neighbor may have heard or seen something the prosecution can use. If someone (even the victim) called 911, then the recording of the call can be used as evidence in domestic violence cases. While the call will have to be evaluated to determine if it is admissible, if it is, it can be detrimental to your case.
Prosecutors can also look for evidence that will corroborate the crime. This includes photos of the injured victim or damaged property at the scene. These are just two examples of the types of evidence that prosecutors can use to authenticate the original statement made by a domestic violence victim.
Unfortunately, in domestic violence cases, some of the most damaging evidence is what you say when the police arrive or when you have been arrested. Some people believe it is possible to talk their way out of a domestic violence case. This is not usually the case. What is more likely is that you will say something that results in you being in even more trouble. If you are arrested or believe you will be arrested for domestic violence, it is best to utilize your right to remain silent. Failure to do so may cause the prosecuting attorney to have even more evidence against you.
How are Domestic Violence Victims Who Do Not Want to Press Charges Handled?
As mentioned above, many domestic violence cases depend on the victim’s testimony. If a victim does not want to press charges and if they will not cooperate in giving their testimony, the prosecutor has the right to drop the charges. If you have an experienced defense attorney helping with your case, it may be possible to use this to your advantage.
However, the prosecution can move forward with criminal cases even without the victim’s testimony. If the defendant in the case caused physical injuries to the victim, then the prosecution may decide that moving forward with the domestic violence charge is in the public’s best interest. Getting a violent individual off the streets and the actions put on their criminal record may be more important than adhering to the victim’s wishes.
In some situations, when victims refuse to testify at the trial, it is possible for the prosecuting attorney to have a court order or subpoena issued. If they do not appear to testify on the set court date, the prosecutor can have the court request a bench warrant be issued against the victim. Sometimes, the court will hold them in contempt of court in these situations, too.
Additionally, if there is suspicion of witness tampering or if the victim changes their testimony in the courtroom, the prosecution may have the right to treat them as a hostile witness. The right defense attorney will be able to help use all these factors to the benefit of your case to help build a solid defense on your behalf.
Can a Restraining Order be Filed Against the Accused Party in Domestic Violence Cases?
An order of protection, also called a restraining order, is not the same as a domestic violence arrest. Victims may request that the court remove the order in place, however if criminal complaints have been filed and a criminal case is pending, it would stay in place.
An example would be if a judge put stipulations on the defendant’s release, like avoiding contact with the alleged victim. In this case, it is required by law that the defendant follow this order, and if they violate it, the police can arrest them and send them back to jail until the court date.
What are the Potential Consequences for Domestic Violence Charges?
Charges of domestic violence are serious. If you are found guilty, you can face serious and long-term consequences, such as significant fines and time in prison. You may also have a criminal record, which can impact your ability to get a job, housing, and more.
You must contact an attorney immediately if you have been arrested for domestic violence or sexual abuse.
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker of Blank Law, PC can provide the legal representation you need to help with your case. Call (248) 515-6583 to schedule a free consultation right away.
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