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Can the Victim Drop Domestic Violence Charges in CA?

When a heated argument between spouses, unmarried couples, or relatives turn into a physical altercation and law enforcement gets involved, the aggressor of the situation will be arrested for domestic violence.

Since many of these disputes are a result of being in the heat of the moment, both parties involved in a domestic violence incident express regret. It is not uncommon for an alleged victim to ask prosecutors to drop the pending charges.

However, most prosecutors in California have a “no drop” policy regarding domestic violence cases. There are several provisions in state law that enable prosecutors to move forward with such cases—even though victims and witnesses can be uncooperative.

According to the California Evidence Code, for example, prosecutors are allowed to admit otherwise inadmissible evidence in a domestic violence case (e.g. a victim's previous statements) if it meets specific standards and is approved by a judge. Furthermore, if a defendant has been recently convicted or charged with a domestic violence offense, prosecutors can use such evidence in the most recent case.

The reason why state prosecutors continue to pursue a domestic violence charge despite the efforts of the victim is that victims are often emotionally and financially tied to their abusers, which can lead to them voluntarily requesting the charges to be dropped. On the other hand, abusers may pressure or threaten the victim to drop the charges.

Rather than giving the responsibility to charge an abuser with domestic violence to the victims, law enforcement and the courts take the matter in their own hands. However, there are many cases where both parties want to move on and seek the rehabilitation necessary to stop violent behavior once and for all.

The following are several reasons why prosecutors may drop domestic violence charges in California:

  • Insufficient evidence such as the victim's lack of credibility or the victim's lack of serious bodily injury
  • Inconsistent statements made by the victim due to alcohol or drug use and alterations of the original story in subsequent statements
  • Lack of witnesses to the incident
  • The prosecution considers a reject request letter—from the defendant's attorney—that points out the lack of visible injuries, the defendant's criminal history, the victim's motivations, etc.

If you have been charged with domestic violence in Ventura, contact Wilfert Law P.C. today at (805) 994-0560 and request a free consultation.