How to Get Domestic Violence Charges Dropped

By Danielle Smyth - Updated March 06, 2018
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In some instances, the victim of a domestic violence case might wish to later drop the charges against the perpetrator of the incident. Due to the complexities of domestic relationships, this change of heart can occur for many reasons. Is it enough to ask the police or local prosecutor to remove these charges from the record of the aggressor? How do you go about getting domestic violence charges dropped?

Tip

Though victims are free to request that domestic violence charges be dropped, prosecutors typically do not agree to do so.

Can You Drop Charges in a Domestic Violence Case?

Victims are always at liberty to request that domestic violence charges be dropped. However, in many situations, this request will not be approved by local authorities. This is because, though the victim reported the case to the police, she is not actually the person who filed the charges. In most states, criminal charges can only be brought by members of law enforcement or the justice department. The police officer who took the domestic violence call is responsible for filing charges.

In some instances, a prosecutor may decide to offer a plea bargain or to reduce the charges that were filed against a defendant. Very rarely, the prosecutor may choose to drop a case altogether. This is up to her discretion, however, rather than that of the victim. Prosecutors may try to work with domestic abuse victims to reduce charges to avoid encouraging hostility. Cases involving such hostile witnesses are very difficult to prosecute.

The situation changes slightly if you claimed to be a victim of domestic abuse but lied to the police. In this scenario, you may wish to recant your statement. To do so, visit your local police station. You might then be asked to sign an affidavit of non-prosecution. If you do admit to lying about the alleged charges, you may face legal trouble yourself.

Can You Get Domestic Violence Charges Dropped in Different States?

Getting domestic violence charges dropped is always up to the discretion of the state. It is certainly possible that the prosecutor will agree to drop the charges. In many cases, regardless of the state in which you reside or the violent act occurred, however, the prosecutor will not agree to drop domestic violence charges just because a victim requests he does.

The 1994 Violence Against Women Act, reauthorized in 2005, and other similar legislation, has played a large role in shaping the prosecution of domestic violence crimes today. Under the act, charges that go unprosecuted can later be eligible for civil redress, meaning compensation for injuries sustained. This sort of allowance is a further incentive for prosecutors to pursue domestic violence charges in court and seek justice for victims.

What Happens When You Drop Domestic Violence Charges?

If you request that domestic violence charges be dropped and a prosecutor agrees to do so, the perpetrator will not be subject to further prosecution for those specific allegations. However, subsequent instances of domestic violence charges will likely not be dropped by a prosecutor.

Domestic violence is a difficult issue to deal with, but involving law enforcement and your attorney as soon as you feel unsafe is important. Legal professionals can help you navigate any prosecution that may result.

About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. Her experience includes years of work in the insurance, workers compensation, disability, and background investigation fields. In addition to being the content writer and social media manager for Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, she has written on legal topics for a number of other clients. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing legal articles and blogs for clients in related industries.

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