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If the Victim Won’t Testify, Domestic Violence Charges May Not Be Dropped

Jeff Cole
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Partner at Zimmer, Duncan & Cole

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If your spouse or partner calls the police accusing you of domestic violence, it’s possible she may change her mind before an officer arrives. But even if she doesn’t want to prosecute, you still may face serious domestic violence charges.

When Domestic Violence Victims Refuse to Testify

In South Dakota, if a domestic violence victim does not want to prosecute, the alleged assailant could still be arrested. A police officer responding to a domestic violence call must arrest the person accused if there is probable cause that a crime was committed.

Similarly, if the victim initially cooperates in the criminal investigation but later changes her mind about testifying, the charges may not be dropped. Only the court or the prosecutor can dismiss the charges. Factors that are considered include:

  • Other evidence. The prosecutor will evaluate the strength of other evidence such as photographs of the victim’s injuries and the testimony of police officers, medical professionals, and other witnesses to the domestic dispute.
  • Prior convictions. The prosecutor may review your criminal record when deciding whether to drop the charges. This could be especially relevant if you have been convicted of domestic violence in the past.
  • Likelihood of a conviction. In some cases where the victim refuses to testify, the prosecutor is left with only circumstantial evidence such as a police officer’s testimony that he observed bruises. If there are other possible explanations for the injuries that seem credible, the prosecutor will take them into consideration.

If you were charged with domestic violence, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Start an online chat to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help you.


Category: Criminal Defense


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