Domestic violence (DV) is a crisis affecting millions of Americans. It is a problem that profoundly impacts a victim’s lifelong health and mental well-being. This accusation is not to be taken lightly, as it can lead to serious consequences for the accused if taken to trial. However, not every case results in a guilty finding.
A DV charge may be dismissed for several reasons, including insufficient evidence, lack of cooperation from the victim, or conflicting testimony. A strong legal defense presented by the accused (defendant) can also lead to a case dismissal. This provides hope and relief to individuals facing such charges. Let us explore four of the common grounds for dismissal and shed light on the complexities of these cases, but first:
What Constitutes a Domestic Violence Charge?
This criminal act involves violence or abuse that occurs in a domestic setting. One person becomes physically and emotionally abusive toward someone they share an intimate or familial bond with. DV happens between spouses, former partners, dating couples, cohabitants, parents and children, or individuals with a domestic connection.
It can be in the form of physical battery, sexual assault, stalking, harassment, verbal or emotional abuse, economic control, etc. These actions are often accompanied by a power dynamic, where the perpetrator seeks to control and assert dominance over their victim. Such charges are taken very seriously due to the potential harm inflicted on the abused and the impact of violence within intimate relationships.
Depending on the severity of the offense and applicable statutes, legal repercussions may include protective orders, mandatory counseling, probation, monetary penalties, and even imprisonment. Yet, not all DV allegations result in convictions. The outcome is subject to the specifics of each charge and how strong the prosecution’s case is. The following are four common reasons why some domestic violence cases are dismissed.
A History of False Accusations From the Accuser
Domestic violence cases demand careful consideration and attention when they have merit. But, we must acknowledge the detrimental effects of false accusations on both the wrongly accused and the prosecuting party. When a prosecutor discovers a pattern of fabrications in the accuser’s past, their integrity is naturally called into question. Defense attorneys likely seize this history to undermine the accuser’s testimony. Consequently, this can lead to the charges being dismissed, as the prosecutor may believe a jury will not find the accuser’s claims credible.
Lack of Sufficient Evidence
If someone accuses another of domestic violence, it is up to the prosecutor to show the court that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. They achieve this by gathering every piece of evidence possible to prove the incident occurred. It can include photos, eyewitness testimony, medical records, and more. However, instances exist where the evidence discovered, or lack thereof, fails to corroborate the complainant’s narrative or is barely enough to secure a conviction. A prosecuting attorney may drop the case if they cannot find enough credible evidence to substantiate the allegations.
No Independent Witnesses
Approximately 30% of intimate partner violence cases often go unwitnessed or unreported to police authorities, cites Gitnux. Only 34% of victims receive medical care. In such cases, a prosecutor may still charge a person with domestic violence, even without an independent witness, if certain factors exist.
They include new/visible injuries, statements by the parties involved, or signs of a physical altercation at the crime scene. Even so, if the statements provided are conflicting, and no independent witnesses are available outside of the accused and the alleged victim, proving the crime occurred becomes more challenging. Such a case may be dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
The Accuser Pleads the Fifth
When confronted with DV allegations, there are instances where the incident could be seen as more of a mutual fight rather than a clear assault. Upon realizing they could also be charged, the individual accusing their partner decides to exercise their 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. This keeps them from making false statements that can be used against them. A refusal to cooperate weakens their case, and if there lacks ample evidence to support the alleged accusations, the charges are dismissed.
Possible Defenses for Domestic Violence Charges
If a DV charge is not dismissed, the accused must work with their attorney to build a strong defense. While every case is unique, several defenses may be applicable:
- The accuser is lying: False accusations do occur. They may be made to gain an advantage in child custody battles or divorce proceedings.
- Self-defense: If the defendant can demonstrate they were being assaulted and their actions were in self-defense, it may help build a compelling defense strategy.
- Innocence: Asserting one’s innocence and challenging the evidence presented against them is a common defense approach in domestic violence cases.
Sometimes, a situation may escalate, and the alleged violence may not have been intentional or purposeful. Demonstrating that the DV was an accident could also be a viable defense strategy.
Contact Pennsylvania Defense Lawyers at RGSG for Help With Your Domestic Violence Case
Domestic violence allegations are very serious. They can result in serious psychological harm to the accused, leading to strained relationships, loss of employment, or even jail time. DV charges also undermine the credibility of genuine victims and the overall effectiveness of the justice system in addressing real instances of domestic violence. Whether you have been caught off guard by such accusations or suspect your accuser is using the claims to gain the upper hand in another legal matter, you must respond appropriately to vindicate yourself and safeguard your reputation.
If you are innocent and facing domestic violence charges, our talented lawyers at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C., are here for you. We can help a person falsely accused of domestic violence by investigating their case, gathering evidence, and presenting a strong defense strategy in court. Our aim is to prove your innocence by providing professional advocacy so your rights are protected. Contact us today at (215) 822-7575 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.