“Everything was just a big misunderstanding” or “I just wanted him or her out of the house” or “I did not want anyone to be arrested.” Many criminal defense lawyers for domestic assault cases hear these phrases uttered by their clients. However, getting criminal charges dropped for domestic assault in the Commonwealth of Virginia prior to the court date is highly unlikely, if not impossible.
Why is that, and what can you do? Contact John Kassabian of Kassabian & Kassabian, PLC, in Fairfax, VA, for a free consultation. John can help you determine the right legal strategy to defend your case for an outcome that will resolve the matter favorably and hopefully have the charge dropped.
CAN YOU DROP ASSAULT CHARGES IN VIRGINIA?
In Virginia, "assault and battery against a family or household member” is defined as the following: threats, attempted or actual injury, or unlawful contact. “Family or household members” could refer to the aggressor's former or current spouse, parents, children, step-parents or -children, siblings or half-siblings, grandparents or grandchildren, regardless of whether or not the aggressor resides with the victim. Other people who fit the definition include any in-laws who reside in the same home as the aggressor, any people with whom the aggressor has had a child (regardless of marriage or cohabitation), and any cohabitants and children of cohabitants from the prior year.
When police are called to the scene of a potential domestic assault and battery, they assess the situation, collect evidence, and perform interviews. They are ultimately the ones who decide who the primary aggressor and victim are in the situation, and it is the police who charge the primary aggressor with assault and battery—not the victim. The police typically will not consider the victim's desire to not have the aggressor charged. Once it's determined who the primary aggressor is, that person will be charged with domestic assault and battery!
As a result, the victim cannot drop the charges; only the prosecutor can drop the charges.
WHY IS THE LAW SET UP THAT WAY IN VIRGINIA?
The intent is that the victim cannot recant their statement based on intimidation from the aggressor. Once the determination has been made that domestic assault and battery did occur and charges have been filed, everything is out of the victim's hands.
WHY CAN'T THE ALLEGED VICTIM JUST RECANT THEIR STATEMENT?
It's not so easy. If the victim claims the story they told was not true, the victim could then be charged with a crime. For example, lying to the police by making the false statement is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.
And, if the victim made a material statement under oath, then recanting their story amounts to perjury, which is a Class 5 felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
WHY YOU NEED A GOOD DEFENSE LAWYER
It's very rare for a prosecutor to drop domestic assault and battery charges without having a good legal or factual reason to do so. That's why it is so important for those who have been charged with domestic assault and battery to retain the services of a good criminal defense lawyer.
John Kassabian, of Kassabian & Kassabian, PLC, who services clients in Prince William and Fairfax Counties, VA, has defended hundreds of people who have been charged with domestic assault and battery. Do not hesitate to call to learn more. He will listen to your story and help you craft the best defense possible.