It can be stressful to be charged with domestic violence. In some cases, domestic violence charges arise out of misunderstandings, and the alleged victims might want the charges to be dropped. Even if the alleged victim in your case doesn’t want to press charges or wants the charges to be dismissed, the decision about how to handle your charges in Pennsylvania is the prosecutor’s decision to make and does not depend on the wishes of the alleged victim. When someone reports an act of domestic violence to the police, the accuser does not decide whether to press charges. Instead, the accuser is a witness to the alleged crime. After an accuser calls the police and makes a report, the officers can arrest the defendant. The prosecutor is who will decide whether sufficient evidence exists to charge the accused person with a crime or whether the charges should be dismissed. If the prosecutor believes that a crime has occurred, he or she is likely to continue prosecuting the defendant regardless of whether the alleged victim asks for the charges to be dropped. If you have been charged with an act of domestic violence, DiCindio Law can talk to you about your legal options and your defense.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence includes acts that are attempted, threatened, or committed by a defendant against people with whom he or she has close personal relationships. This can include spouses, ex-spouses, sexual partners, and others. Physical contact does not have to occur for an act to be considered to be domestic violence. Threats and intimidation can result in charges.
Situations that can lead to domestic violence charges
Domestic violence charges are commonly filed after a power struggle or an argument has occurred. Some of the most common situations that can lead to domestic violence charges include alcohol and drug use, child custody and divorce proceedings, and misunderstandings.
People who drink alcohol or use drugs may act in ways that they normally wouldn’t because of their impairment. When drugs or alcohol are involved in domestic violence charges, drug and alcohol treatment and counseling might be more effective than jail.
When people are involved in child custody disputes and divorces, the situations can become very emotional. Unfortunately, some people will make false domestic violence claims to try to gain an upper hand in their family court proceedings. In these situations, the false claims can backfire on them.
In some cases, misunderstandings can result in the misinterpretation of actions or behaviors as threatening even if they were not.
The victim’s testimony
Some domestic violence cases largely rest on the testimony of the victim and have little other evidence to support the charges. In these types of cases, the prosecutors might have to drop the charges when the victims refuse to help the prosecution or to testify. If the victim instead decides to testify for the defendant, the prosecutor is likely to lose his or her case. In that situation, the prosecutor might dismiss the charges because of a lack of evidence. However, a prosecutor can compel a victim to testify under subpoena and use his or her previous statements to show that the victim’s story has changed.
Trying to refute the evidence
In some cases, domestic violence charges might result after third parties call the police after witnessing arguments, outbursts, or loud fights.. The alleged victims might have to explain what happened during and leading up to the argument or outburst. If physical injuries were involved, explanations about how those happened other than the incidents might be necessary.
Some of the other defenses to domestic violence charges that might be available include the following:
- Lack of witnesses or evidence
- Mistaken identity
- Inconsistent victim statements
- Unlawfully obtained evidence
Your attorney at DiCindio Law can analyze what happened and explain the defenses that might be available to you.
Get help from DiCindio Law
While the alleged victim in your case does not have the power to drop the charges against you, the prosecutor might decide to dismiss the charges if he or she believes that the case is unlikely to result in a conviction. Building a strong defense case provides you with the best chance of receiving a more favorable outcome for your case. Contact DiCindio Law to schedule a consultation by calling us at 610.430.3535.
The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes to the law that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments or the most complete legal issues for all cases These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended solely for informational purposes.