Can Domestic Violence Charges Be Dropped in California?
Domestic violence is a serious offense in California. The state’s domestic violence laws make it a criminal offense to threaten or harm (physically or emotionally) a spouse, partner, family member, or housemate. If accused, the defendant must immediately seek professional legal counsel to defend them against these charges.
Seeing charges dismissed or dropped before a case goes to trial may be considered something like a dream come true for defendants. And while there are many reasons why a domestic violence case may be dropped, it cannot come down to the decision of the one who made the original accusation.
A domestic violence case cannot be dropped because the accused party drops her accusations and wishes to see the case disappear. Once the charges are filed, the case is left in the hands of the District Attorney – the prosecutor. And once the D.A. has started their case, they are the only ones with the authority to dismiss a case. A judge may dismiss criminal charges only if there is a legal basis to do so.
What Are Six Potential Reasons Your Domestic Violence Charges May Be Dropped?
Once the domestic violence charges have been filed and the case has been set into motion, it will become the District Attorney’s decision of whether or not to pursue a case to conviction. Some factors may come into play that give rise to doubts about domestic violence cases. Six of the most common reasons the prosecutor may drop a domestic violence case include:
Was There Insufficient Evidence?
A lack of evidence is among the most common reasons the prosecutor’s office may elect to drop your case. Remember, the prosecution must prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a doubt that the accused was guilty of their alleged crimes, the jury may opt not to convict.
In order to prove a domestic violence claim, the prosecutor’s office must establish that the defendant willfully touched or threatened another person, the physical contact was hurtful or offensive, and the affected person was a partner or household member.
If the prosecutors cannot prove any of these factors, they may find it exceedingly difficult to proceed with their case, which may lead them to drop the charges.
Were There Inconsistent Statements?
In a domestic violence case, the prosecution will review the statements made by the defendant, the alleged victim, and any eyewitnesses. In some cases, the information provided by these parties is inconsistent with the known evidence, making it more difficult to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt. Examples of inconsistent statements include when the alleged victim either changes their story or the story they tell does not match their injuries or the state of the crime scene.
In more extreme cases, the inconsistencies make it difficult to proceed with their case. In such instances, the DA may elect to drop the case in an attempt to save money and resources.
Was the Evidence Collected Illegally?
If law enforcement did not practice the proper protocol when collecting the evidence to support the state’s case, that evidence can be thrown out because it has now been tainted. Even in cases where the evidence seems to be the missing piece of the puzzle, if it was collected illegally, it cannot be used in court.
Your criminal defense lawyer will scrutinize the police investigation to determine whether any evidence was obtained unlawfully.
Were There Any Visible Injuries?
Visible injuries are not required for a domestic violence conviction, as domestic violence can include threats, inappropriate touching, and intended violence.
However, if the lack of visible injuries gives reason to suspect the victim’s statements and no corroborating evidence supports their claims, then the prosecutor may elect to dismiss the charges.
Was There No Independent Witness?
It must be noted that, in the vast majority of domestic violence cases, there is hardly ever an independent witness to speak on the event. So, many arrests and convictions happen without eyewitnesses.
However, if there were inconsistencies in the statements and a lack of evidence found at the scene, the lack of an independent witness may make it difficult to prove the prosecution’s case.
Is the Alleged Victim Not Cooperating with the Prosecutors?
While the alleged victim cannot stop a domestic violence case from proceeding once the charges have been filed, their role in the events that follow still may lead to the case being dropped.
In some domestic violence cases, the prosecutors may need a cooperative victim. If the victim proves uncooperative or steps away from helping the prosecution’s side, the prosecutor may not have sufficient evidence to support the case any longer. If the case isn’t strong enough to secure a conviction, the prosecutor may drop it.
Contact the Law Office of Daniel Deng to Schedule Your Initial Case Evaluation
The District Attorney will pursue a conviction if they have the evidence to support their case. However, certain circumstances may prevent the prosecution from continuing, which may result in your charges being dropped. Please contact our law firm to learn more about your case and start building a solid criminal defense strategy.
The Law Office of Daniel Deng has extensive experience representing those accused of criminal behavior. When you elect to retain our legal services, you can rest assured that you’ve hired aggressive legal counsel to represent your defense.
Please call our law offices at 626-280-6000 to schedule your initial confidential consultation.