3 Reasons a Prosecutor Might Drop Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic violence charges are unique in that these crimes take place against members of a household. That can include intimate or formerly intimate partners, spouses or former spouses, people who share a child, children, or even housemates or former housemates. Florida police officers aggressively pursue charges against alleged domestic abusers. Thus, any crimes that fall under the umbrella of domestic violence can lead to life-altering penalties upon a conviction.
Charges of domestic violence may be misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the facts of the case, the accused’s criminal history, the victim’s age, and the severity of the victim’s injuries. A conviction of any domestic violence offense may lead to an array of penalties, including a period of incarceration, being forced to leave your home, community service hours, supervised visitation with your children, costly fines, and more.
Additionally, a conviction will trigger a permanent gun ban that will prevent you from using, purchasing, or owning firearms, as it is against federal law for anyone convicted of a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence offense to purchase or possess firearms and ammunition. If you’re facing a domestic violence charge, don’t give up hope. There are times when prosecutors may drop your charges.
Prosecutors Can Choose to Drop Domestic Abuse Charges
The consequences of having a domestic violence conviction on your record are enormous; yet, people in intimate relationships sometimes claim domestic violence to get back at their ex-partner or spouse. Ultimately, once police get involved in a domestic case, the decision to pursue a conviction rests in the prosecutor’s hands.
While victims do not have the power to take back their accusations once police get involved in a case, state prosecutors can make the decision to drop the charges. There are 3 common reasons a prosecutor might drop domestic violence charges.
Not Enough Evidence to Convict the Defendant
By far the most common reason prosecutors give up on domestic violence cases is that there is simply not enough evidence to prove all necessary criminal elements beyond a reasonable doubt. In many of these cases, prosecutors face a “he said, she said” scenario in which there is little — if any — physical evidence.
Domestic violence battery is a specific crime involving the unlawful touching of a family or household member. The elements prosecutors must prove to show a domestic battery took place include:
- The defendant willfully touched another person
- The touching was offensive or harmful
- The person the defendant touched is legally considered a household member or a current or former intimate partner
An aggravated domestic battery takes place when a person uses a deadly weapon to inflict serious bodily harm upon a family member or current or former household member. Aggravated domestic battery may also occur when the defendant allegedly batters a pregnant person or a person he knows or should know is pregnant.
There are different factors that may make a prosecutor realize there is not enough evidence to successfully convict a defendant in a domestic violence case:
Willfulness in Domestic Violence Cases
After carefully investigating a case, a prosecutor might determine that he or she cannot prove the element of willfulness. Willfulness refers to the defendant’s purpose in committing the act. A defendant who commits violence without the intent to do so is less culpable, and therefore, more likely to be viewed with sympathy.
Lack of a Credible Victim
Victims who are not credible can weaken a case. A victim with a history of any of the following may lack credibility:
- A history of making false domestic violence accusations
- A history of mental illness
- A history of fabricating domestic violence incidents due to disputes in divorce
Lack of Serious Bodily Injury
Prosecutors do not need to show a victim suffered physical injuries to prove that offensive or harmful touching occurred; however, the lack of evidence of serious bodily injury can make it more challenging to show the victim suffered because of the act. It may also be difficult or nearly impossible to show that the touching that occurred was offensive to the victim.
Inconsistent Statements from the Victim and Defendant
Statements from victims that show inconsistencies soften a case. In some cases, a witness statement about the extent of the violence does not line up with his or her physical condition. At other times, a victim who changes his or her story becomes unreliable. If a victim’s testimony differs at the preliminary hearing from his or her written statement or what a police officer testified to, a defense attorney for the other team can latch onto this to show the weakness in the prosecutor’s case, which can lead the jury to conclude there is reasonable doubt and fail to convict.
A Compelling Letter to the Prosecutor
In many cases of domestic violence, the defense attorney can write a letter to the prosecutor laying out compelling reasons for dropping charges against their client. The defense attorney may bring up some of the same reasons a prosecutor might drop charges on his or her own, including that:
- There is not enough evidence to convict
- There is reason to doubt that a battery occurred at all or that the defendant himself committed it
A letter from the defense attorney, sometimes called a “reject request letter,” can be very persuasive. If you face a domestic violence charge, it may be reasonable to ask your defense lawyer about writing such a letter before pleading to the charge.
Fight Back Against Domestic Violence Charges Now
The sooner you team up with an Orlando domestic violence defense attorney, the better your chances will be of having your charges dropped, which will lead to a better life. Having a domestic violence charge on your record can be a burden; a conviction will be worse. Be sure to contact the determined and experienced team of Orlando defense lawyers at the Umansky Law Firm to learn all your options for fighting a domestic violence charge.
Attorneys with The Umansky Law Firm have more than 100 years of combined experience tackling criminal charges of domestic violence. Attorney William D. Umansky, the firm’s founder, is a member of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and has received recognition for his many accomplishments in the legal industry. Call our firm 24/7 at (407) 228-3838 for a free consultation or complete our contact form.