Can Domestic Violence Charges be Dropped?

Can Domestic Violence Charges be Dropped?

Can Domestic Violence Charges be Dropped?

Domestic violence is defined as a crime committed against someone you are related by blood, adoption, legal custody, marriage, or domestic partnership, or with whom the offender has a child in common. The criminal charges are usually filed in the District of Columbia pursuant to many different statutes.

Domestic Violence Offense is similar to other crimes except that the parties are connected by a domestic relationship. Typically, the alleged victim must be a:

  • current or former spouse,
  • boyfriend/girlfriend,
  • cohabitant,
  • family members,
  • former dating partner,
  • parent of your child.
  • Child

Domestic violence cases can have significant consequences different from regular criminal cases and therefore, you should hire a law firm that has criminal defense attorneys that specialize in this type of work.  For more information, contact our office and one of our criminal domestic violence lawyers can review it with you.  

Common Domestic Violence Charges in the District of Columbia

In the District of Columbia, domestic violence is a very broad legal term that covers a wide range of different situations. The most commonly charged crimes include:

Top Three Domestic Violence Cases in the District of Columbia

Domestic Violence Criminal cases unfortunately are very common in the criminal justice system. The top three Domestic violence cases in the District of Columbia include the following:

Domestic simple assault pursuant to DC Code §22-404 is a misdemeanor crime. Some jurisdictions refer to this as domestic battery. Remember even a push, a shove could constitute a simple assault. The Prosecutor does not have to prove actual injury or physical injury.

There are three types of assault in the District of Columbia:

  • attempted-battery,
  • intent-to-frighten
  • nonviolent sexual touching

Violating a restraining or protective order pursuant to DC Code §16-1005(g) after an order of protection has been put in place. This usually happens after a Petitioner has been granted a civil protection order and thereafter, the Respondent makes contact with the Petitioner. This is normally a misdemeanor crime. These charges may initially be filed by the Petitioner but the prosecutor is required to review and determine whether to charge criminally. Most of the cases involve text messages or phone calls to Petitioner.

Another common charge is criminal threats pursuant to DC Code §22-407. Any threat of physical violence can be prosecuted under the domestic violence law in the District of Columbia.

Can My Domestic Violence Case be dismissed?

So, there are a number of factors to determine whether a prosecutor will drop domestic violence charges. The Prosecutor is required to review the domestic violence situation and the history of the parties. The prosecutor will look at past police reports as well as how many times 911 has been called to that address.

Most people say to us well she does not want to go forward with the case so why don’t they just drop it. Remember, the victim of domestic violence is just a witness – she is not the Petitioner when the Government is not involved.

Most prosecutors take the witness position to determine whether to drop the case. However, in very serious cases it’s not likely that the prosecutor will drop the charges just because the witness wants to drop the case.

Police are required to arrest an individual when they come to a domestic violence altercation when there are noticeable injuries. Mandatory Arrest law (D.C. Code § 16-1031(a).) states “A law enforcement officer shall arrest a person if the law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the person: (1) Committed an intra-family offense that resulted in physical injury, including physical pain or illness, regardless of whether or not the intra-family offense was committed in the presence of the law enforcement officer; or (2) Committed an intra-family offense that caused, or was intended to cause reasonable fear of imminent serious physical injury or death.”

What can you do to help get domestic violence charges dropped?

First and Foremost you should hire an attorney who is experienced in domestic violence law. The attorney can try to convince the prosecutors that they’re going to lose the case. The Criminal Defense attorney can point out weaknesses in the Government’s case such as:

There’s usually some sort of a problem with a case that doesn’t get filed:

  • lack of evidence;
  • hard to prove who was the aggressor;
  • no injuries to either party.

The prosecutor has a lot of discretion to dismiss cases, especially where the evidence is weak and they can not prove their case.

Setting Domestic Violence Charges for Trial

Sometimes the prosecutors refuse to dismiss the matter because they want to give the witnesses an opportunity to appear at trial or they want to try and subpoena witnesses for trial. A vast majority of domestic violence cases get dismissed for want of prosecution on the trial date. The Government will tell the Judge on the trial date that they are not ready to proceed and the Court dismisses the case for want of prosecution.

Domestic Violence Charges Dismissed on a Spousal Privilege.

Yes, Domestic Violence charges can be dismissed if the spouse invokes marital privilege. The marital privilege exists in two situations, depending on whether the subject matter involves confidential communication. Under D.C. Code § 14-306(a) a spouse may but cannot be compelled to testify to matters that are not confidential communications. The right to exercise this privilege rests with the spouse who is the potential witness. Persons in a common-law marriage can also invoke privilege. The spouse/witness may waive or assert the privilege both before the grand jury and at trial and may invoke the privilege at the grand jury but waive it at trial. When the privilege is waived at the grand jury and invoked at trial, the court must determine whether the waiver in the grand jury was voluntary.

Domestic Violence Lawyers in the District of Columbia

Frequently Asked Questions for Assault in DCAt Rollins and Chan Law Firm we have been handling Domestic Violence charges for over two decades. We have had well of over a thousand domestic violence trials since 1997.

Contact our top-rated law criminal law firm for a free consultation at (202) 455-5610. We will offer you legal advice and our recommendation on going forward.