Can I Drop Domestic Violence Charges Once I've Made A Complaint?

No.  You cannot drop Domestic Violence charges once you've made a verbal or written complaint.

The reason lies in the nature of criminal cases in that, unlike civil cases, it's simply not your case.  Your part is solely as a witness.  The criminal case belongs to the prosecutor and only s/he can drop charges.  And s/he is really, really reluctant to do so.

The follow up question is often: What do I do now that I've filed charges and want to drop them.

This presents a sticky situation for the person filing charges.  You've made a mistake or have reconsidered, but the mistake may subject YOU to legal consequences.  By recanting the facts in your complaint -- either made to the officer verbally or put in a written complaint -- you open yourself up to criminal charges of filing a false complaint, obstruction of justice, or perjury (if they've signed or given testimony under oath) being filed against YOU.

You should have a lawyer -- separate and apart from the person who represents the accused to protect YOUR interests and negotiate these turbulent waters.  One misstep can mean that you and the person you've accused can both wind up in big trouble.

I've handled this situation alot in my career, if you are the accused or the witness rethinking their actions, give me a call at 213-893-8640 to discuss.


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