Criminal cases involving domestic relations, including domestic violence, can be very tricky and volatile. The defendant and the alleged victim are often in a close relationship, possibly even married with children. One spouse may call the police to intervene in an incident of domestic violence, and then the defendant spouse is criminally charged. It is not uncommon for the victim to recant their story or tell police they do not wish to press charges because they are afraid of breaking up their family. Read on to learn about what happens to domestic violence charges when a victim recants from the Salt Lake City domestic violence lawyers at Overson Law, PLLC.
Can a Domestic Violence Case in Utah Be Dismissed if the Victim Does Not Want to Press Charges?
Domestic violence victims may tell law enforcement and prosecutors that they no longer want to press charges against their partner or spouse. Ultimately, the decision is not theirs to make. Once a defendant has been criminally charged and their case is in motion, the victim cannot do much to stop the process.
If a domestic violence victim tells law enforcement and prosecutors that they no longer wish to press charges, the case will not automatically be dismissed. If the police have gathered enough evidence to charge the defendant and bring them to trial, prosecutors have a duty to continue working on the case. They will not drop the case just because the victim says so. However, this does not mean victims have no influence over the matter. Domestic violence victims are often the most crucial testifying witness. Without them, it becomes much harder to secure a conviction.
Who Presses Charges in a Domestic Violence Case in Utah?
It is essential to understand who exactly is pressing charges in a domestic violence case. While the police and prosecutors certainly want to protect victims and bring alleged abusers to justice, victims cannot control criminal charges. A defendant is criminally charged by the state, not by the victim. Prosecutors can choose to move forward with a case despite the victim’s wishes to drop the charges.
Because the state is the one who technically brought charges against the defendant, only the state can drop those charges. A domestic violence victim can plead with prosecutors to drop the charges, and the prosecutors may consider the victim’s wishes, but it is ultimately the prosecutors’ decision. However, a lack of cooperation from the victim can make the prosecutors’ jobs more difficult. If a domestic violence victim wants the charges dropped, prosecutors might be reluctant to call them as a witness at the trial, and their case might be weakened.
What Are Domestic Violence Crimes in Utah?
Domestic violence is not one charge but is instead an umbrella term covering a variety of charges and offenses. Domestic violence offenses are violent crimes committed by one person against someone else they live with. The term the law uses, “cohabitants,” includes all adults or emancipated people at least 16 years of age living in the same household.
A cohabitant in a domestic violence case is often a spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancé/fiancée, or other romantic partner. A cohabitant may also be a blood relative or relative by marriage, such as a parent or sibling. Lastly, “cohabitant” covers someone who shares children with the defendant even if they don’t live together.
Because this term covers adults only, it excludes minor children. If the defendant and victim are not cohabitants, the charges will not be filed as domestic violence charges.
Domestic violence offenses include any violent offense or crime committed by one cohabitant against another. This means any number of crimes including assault, rape, or homicide become domestic violence charges if they are committed against a cohabitant.
Domestic violence victims are typically very close to the defendant. It is not uncommon for domestic violence victims to recant their story because they do not want to see their partner or family member put in prison.
What Can My Lawyer Do if My Spouse Does Not Want to Press Charges in Utah?
If your spouse or partner wishes to drop the charges, there is no guarantee that the prosecutors will agree. However, this puts us in a much stronger position. Without the alleged victim, prosecutors have lost their star witness. It becomes very difficult to secure a conviction when the victim refuses to cooperate. However, this does not mean that law enforcement has not gathered other evidence. There could still be other witnesses, like friends or neighbors, who can testify about the alleged abuse. We may be in a good position to request prosecutors either drop the charges or at the very least reduce them. If your spouse wants the charges dropped, your Logan criminal defense lawyer might be able to negotiate a much better plea deal than we would have before.
The court may have issued a protective order against you as a result of your charges. This order prevents you from contacting your spouse or partner and may require you to leave your home. If your spouse wishes to drop the charges and recant their story, we can argue that the protective order is no longer necessary and should be dropped. Even if your case still moves forward, our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers may be able to get you back in your own home with your family.
Contact Our Salt Lake City Domestic Violence Defense Attorney for a Consultation
If you were charged with domestic violence-related charges and your spouse or partner now wants to recant their story and have the charges dropped, please contact our Utah domestic violence defense lawyer. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 and ask about a free legal consultation with our team.