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What Say Does the Victim Have?


Here’s a story many of us have heard before. A couple begins to argue and the argument quickly escalates to a fight. Yelling and screaming alert neighbors who become concerned and call the police. Once the police arrive, they find evidence that, in the process of the fight, the husband struck the wife, leaving a bruise or mark. At that point, the husband can be and usually is arrested for domestic violence.

The wife, acting out of either fear or sympathy, then decides to plead with the police and the court to have the charges dropped. It may have been a one-time situation and the wife worries that the charges and punishment could disrupt other areas of their lives, such as the husband’s job. Or she may fear that the arrest will only anger the husband more, resulting in even worse confrontations.

There are many who are under the impression that the wife has the ultimate say as to if the domestic violence charges are dropped or not. Not so! This may have been true 25 years or more ago. But in recent decades, states across the country, including Arizona, have stepped up their domestic violence laws in a way that gives the power of dismissal to the state, not the victim. The prosecutor makes the final decision as to whether the charges are dropped or not.

In some cases, the prosecutor will take the spouse’s request into consideration and either lessen the charges or offer a plea bargain agreement to the defendant. In very rare cases, the charges are sometimes dropped. But for the most part, most states have very strict zero-tolerance policies when it comes to domestic violence. Rather than allowing the decision of whether to drop charges or not fall to the victim, who may not be in the best situation to make that kind of decision, the state instead relieves the victim of that burden by handling it themselves.

Your best bet is to speak with a criminal defense attorney right away. Knowledgeable lawyers know how to work well with prosecutors and judges. They may be able to get the intended message across correctly leading to a favorable outcome for the defendant.

For answers to your domestic violence questions, call Naegle & Crider Criminal Defense Attorneys today to schedule your free consultation with attorney Charlie Naegle. Charlie is focused on helping his clients put their issues behind them quickly and effectively so they can get back on track with life.

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