Can The Complainant Drop The Charges?
“After a domestic violence arrest, can my spouse drop the charges?” This is a common question the day after a domestic disturbance and the answer is usually no. The decision as to whether family violence charges will be dropped lies solely with the prosecutor. The state will prosecute family violence and domestic assault cases with or without the cooperation of the alleged victim. Many jurisdictions, including Harris County, have a special section of aggressive prosecutors who prosecute people charged with domestic assault or family violence. These prosecutors often try to force a reluctant spouse to testify for the prosecution.
If you and your wife or husband are caught up in this type of legal trouble after a family fight, call 713-489-7763 or send an email inquiry to R. Todd Bennett, P.C.. Schedule a free consultation as soon as possible.
How I Can Help
I am R. Todd Bennett, and I provide trusted representation in family violence matters and other criminal defense cases to clients in Houston and throughout Texas. As a former Harris County prosecutor, I know the ins and outs of family violence cases, including the fact that what happens within the first 72 hours after charges are brought can ultimately make or break a case. I know how to use proactive strategies to persuade prosecutors to not pursue charges, which is important because your spouse cannot ask to have charges dropped and judges do not have discretion to dismiss charges in family violence cases.
I help clients protect their rights, handle all communication on their behalf, and keep them from inadvertently harming their own case and facing additional charges for violation of protective orders, tampering or obstruction of justice. I start many initial consultations by answering questions such as the following frequently asked questions.
Has this always been the way family violence charges worked?
Not too long ago, spouses could drop family violence assault charges if they changed their minds. A reluctant spouse could refuse to testify in court in family violence cases. If the prosecutor was left with insufficient evidence, he or she would be forced to dismiss the case. However, that is no longer the cause. Texas law has changed.
Does my spouse have to testify in court?
The general rule is that a prosecutor can compel a reluctant spouse to testify in court in a family violence or domestic violence assault case. However, there are exceptions to the general rule and circumstances in which a spouse cannot be forced to testify.
Does my spouse have to talk to the prosecutor outside of court?
A prosecutor can never force a reluctant spouse or any witness to talk to him or her outside of court. To compel a reluctant spouse to provide information, the prosecutor must subpoena the witness to court and question him or her in an official proceeding. A solid criminal defense lawyer will help you understand these and all other rights that can affect the outcome of your case.
What can a lawyer do for me?
An attorney with an extensive understanding of family violence charges can step in and ensure that the situation is handled properly upfront and provide you with the guidance you need during this difficult and confusing time.