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Will Prosecutors Drop a Domestic Violence Case If Victim Changes Story?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Jun 23, 2020

Domestic Violence is a Political Crime

This is a big question on a lot of people's minds who are charged with domestic violence across Los Angeles county because a lot of people logically think, if the person who is accusing me of domestic violence no longer wants me to be prosecuted and they want the case dismissed, then why wouldn't the prosecutors just dismiss it? This is commonly known as a recanting victim.

The answer to that is, because it's not the person against you, it's the prosecutors who represent the people of the state of California who are against you and they don't want people to commit domestic violence.  As you've probably guessed by now, it's a very political crime, meaning that they just don't let people go.  If they think you committed domestic violence they're going to prosecute you.

So, the question becomes are there circumstances where once a person changes their story that either the case is not filed or the prosecutors drop or dismiss the case?  And of course, the answer is yes.  It's just a very small percentage of cases that the prosecutors are willing to drop based on the alleged victim changing their story.

Examples of where I've seen them dismiss a case is when the original story has holes in it and is messed up.  For example, I've seen alleged victims claim they were punched in the face by my client and then they don't have a mark on their face.

It just simply doesn't make logical sense.  But they had other injuries on them so the police made the decision to arrest him, and now they change their story and tell the truth about what really happened.  If there's evidence to back up that new version and there was problems with the original version in the first place, that might be a situation that is ripe to get the dismissal.

Factors Leading to Dismissal of Domestic Violence Charges

Also, when the police come out, if they determine that somebody's an aggressor, somebody was injured, their policy is that they're going to arrest somebody, and that means even in bad cases where they don't have very good evidence they will arrest somebody.

Dismiss Domestic Violence Charges in Los Angeles

So, that circumstance is ripe if somebody changes their story that the prosecutors might look at it and say we didn't have the case in the beginning and now that the person has changed their story, that's made it even worse for us.

So, we're not going to waste our time and prosecute this case if the defense is going to be able to beat us.  We're looking to win cases.  We're looking to get people who are committing domestic violence.  If we can't tell whether domestic violence was committed in a particular case then we're not going to pursue it.  So, that's another situation where the prosecutors might dismiss a domestic violence case.

But realize, in general, just because somebody changes their story, they're not going to dismiss the case.  In fact, I would say probably in 80% of their cases, the alleged victim tries to change their story — tries to help the other person because they've usually got some sort of a connection.

Whether it be a relationship, a money connection, whatever the case may be, that person now will have a change of heart and want to undo the arrest and want to undo the fact that their significant other is now looking at jail time, a criminal record and a host of other problems that they don't want them to have.

So, a lot of this stuff in criminal defense and in particular, in domestic violence cases, is logical and common sense-oriented.  What you need to do if you or a loved one has a domestic violence case pending and you need help.

Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorney

You have to go with an attorney because the attorney will be able to look at every neutrally — look at your side of it – look at the prosecution's side of it and use their own experience to determine whether you can win or not, whether this is the type of case that the prosecutors might dismiss or if there's no chance the prosecutors are going to dismiss it.  The attorney, obviously, has to have the integrity to tell you.

That's why I get very frustrated sometimes when people call me and they say, well this attorney said this, or this person answered the phone at a law firm and they told me we could do this.

Meanwhile, there's no way that person should be saying that because they don't really have the full story.  They don't have all the evidence, pictures of any injuries, any witness statements and they're just relying on what the person is telling them without doing any investigation and the person is giving them information from a position of fear and from a position of trying to help themselves.

I've even had people call attorneys and not even say anything about the case and the attorney is already telling them defenses they can use when they don't even know any facts about the case.  If you get in that circumstance, you probably don't want to go with that attorney.

I take a different approach.  I'm going to be honest.  I'm going to tell the person the truth about what they're facing and realistically whether or not the case is going to be dismissed based on what they're telling me and what information I know about the case.

Hedding Law Firm
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208
Encino, CA 91436
(213) 542-0979

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About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.