Domestic abuse is a silent epidemic experienced by one in four women and one in nine men.
While domestic violence charges are often rightly pursued, there are cases where those same charges can also be the perpetuation of the abuse. You, the victim, may be unfairly charged with violence by the same person you are trying to escape. In some cases, the whole thing could be a misunderstanding that everyone now regrets.
Once, the prosecutor files, getting domestic violence charges dismissed is tough. It often comes down to a strong defense and legal strategy in the courtroom.
Here's how to beat domestic violence charges and prevent a miscarriage of justice.
Who Can Be Charged with Family Violence in Texas?
In Texas, domestic violence law falls under the category of family violence. It refers to acts committed by a family or household member or against another member of the family or household that is intended to cause harm or injury. It may also be a credible threat of physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault.
A family or household member includes:
Current or former spouses
Relatives my marriage
Person(s) with whom you share a child or have a child in common
Foster parents and children
Family violence now also includes dating violence, which consists of two people who currently or previously had a romantic or intimate relationship.
Can They Drop the Charges?
In some cases, domestic violence charges begin out of anger or in haste.
Although your family member can participate in pressing charges (by calling the police and reporting the abuse), they cannot revoke them. Once the public prosecutor issues a domestic violence charge, then the victim cannot take it back.
Why can't you ask the prosecutor to drop the charges? Domestic or family violence falls under the umbrella of the Texas criminal code. That means it is up to the state to investigate and pursue the charges - with or without the victim's full consent or cooperation.
That's not to say that you can't take your statement back or change your story. An affidavit of non-prosecution can help encourage prosecutors who are on the fence. Studies show that 85-95 percent of women change their stories.
However, recanting won't necessarily lead to the charges being dropped unless your initial statement was a lie.
Even then, if the state has police reports, hospital records, and photographs, they can still pursue the case. And the prosecutor can also prosecute you for falsifying information or perjury.
Another option is to become uncooperative. If you are the victim (or alleged victim) and you refuse to answer questions, participate in interviews, and skip court dates, it can lead the prosecutor to drop the case. They usually only do this if their evidence is primarily based on your testimony.
Finding the Right Defense
Once the state presses family violence charges, they won't drop them unless their investigation exposes a grave error.
Why? Because family violence laws reflect a general understanding that domestic violence victims often try to protect their aggressor - even when they suffer serious injuries. (There is a significant amount of data and evidence to support this.) As a result, even when mistakes are made, and the wrong person is prosecuted, it is challenging to get around the charges.
The best option for getting domestic violence charges dismissed is presenting a solid defense.
The Wrong Person Defense
Filing charges against the wrong person - the victim instead of the abuser - is more common than we like to think.
For example, if a neighbor calls the police and the police assume the man is to blame when he is the victim, it can result in domestic violence charges.
In other cases, both parties may have injuries, and the police are unsure what happened. This scenario presents an opportunity for the abuser to manipulate the police and convince them that they are the victim rather than the perpetrator.
You can argue that the police picked up the wrong person - and that it is the other party that is the abuser.
The Mistake or Fabrication Defense
Allegations of family violence can trigger investigations and charges. But sometimes, those allegations aren't real.
For example, someone may call the police and report an assault to end an argument or to manipulate their partner. The call may be the product of a drunken mistake, an emotional moment (such as during a fight about custody), or even a form of psychological abuse.
In other cases, a witness may think they saw an assault and called the police, but they were mistaken. The argument was heated and out-of-control, but no violence or crime took place.
Arguing that the abuse never happened is a good strategy if there is no physical evidence of abuse.
The Lack of Witnesses Defense
If there is a lack of physical evidence (police records, therapist records, documented injuries), it is possible to argue that there are no witnesses to the abuse.
Although it is rare for independent witnesses to see domestic violence, it can still help your case.
However, a lack of witnesses won't necessarily get the prosecutor to drop the charges, particularly if they have any physical evidence.
But when combined with conflicting statements, no documented history of violence, and tension in the relationship (mental illness, custody battles, etc.), it can lead to the charges being dismissed in court.
How to Help Your Case
If a prosecutor charges you with family violence, the first thing you need to do is hire a domestic violence defense attorney. You should not make any statements to the police, prosecutors, or the victim without an attorney.
An attorney will not only represent in you in court but help you gather as much evidence as possible that explains the situation.
They will help you write your record, identify and interview witnesses, and identify potential causes of charges that appear to be a miscarriage of justice. They also examine the police report for inconsistencies and to understand the evidence against you.
Is Getting Domestic Violence Charges Dismissed Possible?
Getting domestic violence charges dismissed is possible, but you need the help of a defense attorney to do it. Even when you are the real victim of abuse or no abuse took place, the law reflects the possibility that the alleged victim is lying to protect the abuser.
If you have been arrested for family violence or domestic abuse, there's no time to waste. Get in touch for a confidential consultation about your case.