What Happens When a Domestic Violence Victim Doesn’t Want To Press Charges?

If you’ve been charged with domestic violence and find out that the accuser doesn’t wish to press charges, it’s understandable that you might be feeling hopeful and assume that the situation isn’t that big of a deal. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how it works. It’s essential to know how charging decisions are made even when the accuser doesn’t want to cooperate – and what to do if you find yourself in this situation.

A Victim Does Not Decide if Charges Are Filed in a Domestic Violence Case

It’s a common misconception that a victim can decide whether charges are filed against an alleged abuser. This likely comes from TV shows and movies, where the victim says, “I don’t want to press charges,” and the case seems to go away. In reality, this is not how it works at all. So, can police press charges if the victim doesn’t want to?

Ultimately, the prosecutor is the one who decides if charges will be filed or not. They will consider multiple factors before making a decision to press charges. For example, they’ll assess the severity of the offense and injuries sustained, the alleged abuser’s criminal history, and whether they believe the potential defendant poses a threat to public safety. 

Prosecutors will usually consider their wishes, but the accuser does not have the power to make any decision related to pressing charges.

How the State Handles an Uncooperative Victim

Even in cases when victims refuse to cooperate, prosecutors still have the ability to move forward if they believe it’s in the public’s best interest to do so. Prosecutors can issue a subpoena requiring the victim to testify at trial, and ignoring this can lead to a bench warrant being issued for their arrest.

Prosecutors typically don’t want to take these measures, as forcing a victim to testify contradicts their primary goal of protecting victims’ rights and safety. It also makes it more difficult to secure a conviction for many reasons – for example, because it undermines the victim’s credibility

However, in severe cases where there are significant injuries or they believe the public is at risk, a prosecutor may feel that this is the best choice. 

What To Do if You’re Charged With Domestic Violence in Rhode Island

Being charged with domestic violence in Rhode Island can be an overwhelming experience. Are you wondering what happens when someone presses charges against you and what to do? If you find yourself in this situation, taking the following steps is essential: 

If you’ve been accused of or arrested for domestic violence, you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. This is true whether you’ve been falsely accused or believe you have done something wrong. They will help ensure that your rights are protected throughout the investigation and during any court proceedings. 

Stay Calm

Try to remain calm during all interactions with law enforcement and when in court hearings. It’s frustrating to be charged with a crime, especially if you didn’t do it and the alleged victim doesn’t even want to move forward with the case. However, nothing good will come out of getting worked up and being hostile towards the prosecutor, police officers, or court officials. 

Do Not Contact Your Accuser

Do not have any contact with your accuser – directly or indirectly through a third party. This should be followed even if the accuser no longer wishes to press charges. 

As stated above, they may be forced to testify, and having contact with them while legal proceedings are ongoing can only make things worse. It could make it seem as though you’re trying to influence their testimony, which could even lead to additional charges against you

Gather Evidence

If you’ve been charged with a crime, it’s helpful to start gathering evidence that can refute the claims against you. This might include text messages, phone records, emails, photos, or even alibi evidence showing that you weren’t in the area when the alleged crime occurred. 

Dealing with any criminal charge is a difficult situation, but by taking the above steps, you give yourself a fighting chance. 

Contact a Providence Domestic Violence Attorney If You’re Facing Criminal Charges or Accusations

If you or someone you know is facing accusations of domestic violence – even when the alleged victim doesn’t wish to press charges – we’re here to help.

For more information, please contact the Providence Criminal defense law firm of Manosh Payette, LLC for a free consultation, give us a call at 401-854-7794 or visit our convenient location:

Manosh Payette, LLC – Providence Criminal Defense Attorney
101 Dyer St Suite 2D,
Providence, RI 02903, United States