R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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Will courts drop domestic violence charges if victims recant?

Houston residents have been under a great deal of stress ever since Hurricane Harvey roared ashore in Rockport nearly one month ago. The side effects of chronic, sustained stress can include angry outbursts and behavioral changes which may lead to episodes of domestic violence between spouses and partners.

Many people arrested on domestic violence charges mistakenly believe that those charges will automatically be dismissed by the courts if the victims recant the allegations against their abusers. But it doesn't work that way.

The courts step in when victims bow out

Uncooperative victims do make prosecutors' jobs more difficult, but they definitely are still able to get convictions in some of the cases. Prosecutors and judges may have insight into the motivations of the victims to drop the charges against their abusers.

If you have never been a victim of domestic violence, you may be nonplussed to understand what would make abused individuals request that prosecutors drop charges against those who harm them.

Why victims recant

Sometimes they recant out of fear or intimidation from their abusers. The courts are wise to this, however, which is why the district attorney's office continues to prosecute the cases against the defendants.

Other reasons for victims to recant their accusations are economic. This is especially true when there is great disparity between the earning capabilities of the victim and abuser. Victims may waffle on testifying simply out of fear of homelessness or that they and their children will go hungry or do without life essentials. While this may be understandable, nobody should have to live in fear of abuse.

Guilt can also play a role in victim recantation. This is especially true if the abusers are especially manipulative and make their victims begin to feel sorry for the predicament they left their abusers in when they first pressed charges against them.

Sometimes it all comes down to love. The victim loves the abuser, who also loves the victim, but the relationship has become toxic due to the abusive behavior.

Don't count on an acquittal due to recantation

If you are facing domestic violence charges, don't hedge your defense on the non-cooperation of your victim. Prosecutors just shift their approach to rely more heavily on other evidence that supports the charges, including:

  • Photos of injuries
  • Witness statements
  • Medical records
  • Police reports
  • 911 call recordings
  • Social media threats

It's better to retain a Houston criminal defense attorney who can represent you in court on the charges. Domestic violence cases without cooperative witnesses are ripe for plea bargaining, and your attorney may be able to cut a deal with the prosecutor that allows you to go free on a lesser charge or on probation.

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