Can Assault Charges Be Dropped by the Victim?

Washington, DC Assault lawyer

This is a big misconception. A lot of times, especially in domestic violence cases, the victim will hire a defense attorney and ask to get their husband or boyfriend out of jail because they do not want them in there and they do not want to pursue the charges. Those people have to be explained that it does not work that way and it was out of their hands the minute they called 911, because the police got involved, they charged the person and the only people who can now take away the charges would be the prosecutor’s office.

It could have an influence on the case if the person called the prosecutors, but ultimately it would not be the person’s decision. The first thing the person could tell them is that they were angry and things were heated or maybe the police misunderstood what they had said, so what was written in that police report was not true, which is one thing that might help the case disappear.

The other thing that people probably say more often is that the other person definitely hit them, but they love that person and do not want them to get deported or they do not want the person to go to jail, so they do not want to pursue the case and they just want to move past it. They might say they do not want to be in court or they do not want to testify and they just want this to go away.

It might have some influence on the decision of the prosecutors, but it would not be the end of the decision. Prosecutors are not defense lawyers for the victim; they are the lawyers for society and for the district, so it is their job to seek justice and to protect the entire community, not just the victim.

There has been a lot of research on the cycles of abuse in domestic violence cases and it absolutely exists. There are women who get abused and return to their abusers and it is sad. Prosecutors, especially the domestic violence prosecutors, are very weary of that happening, so even when the victim says they do not want to go forward, they will sometimes tell the victim that they are sorry, but in order to protect the person from themselves, they will go forward and force the person to testify, and threaten to drag the person into court in handcuffs if they do not show up.

What Sort Of Plea Agreements Are Available for First-Time Offenders?

If the person was charged with a simple assault in DC and they did not have a significant criminal record, or had no record at all, they would probably be offered a differed sentencing agreement, or DSA, which means they would have to go in front of a judge, raise their hand under oath and plead guilty to assault. The judge would postpone sentencing for maybe a year or a certain amount of time and the person would have to do community service in the meantime.

The judge might have other conditions as well, but once the person had completed all those conditions and if they had not picked up any new charges in the meantime, they could go back to court on their sentencing date and they could actually withdraw the guilty plea so it would get taken off their record. The wait would be worth it to get the charges off the record.

How Long Would That Take?

I recently had a DUI traffic case where there was a differed sentencing agreement, so the sentencing has been set for January 27th 2016.

Does A Person Have To Take Rehabilitation Seminars Or Classes If Alcohol Or Drugs Are Involved?

Whenever someone is found guilty of something where alcohol or drugs are involved, there is a strong possibility that at sentencing the judge would order the person to get some sort of treatment. Sometimes it would be as simple as giving the person supervised probation, so the person would go to the probation office where they would give them a drug and alcohol evaluation on the order of the judge. The person would be ordered to pursue treatment as recommended.

How Do Restraining Orders Work?

Protective orders are civil orders, not criminal charges, so there is no prosecutor involved and there is no possibility of jail involved until a certain time. Protective orders are important because they often come hand in hand with a criminal charge. A hearing is set very quickly when a protective order petition is filed, because the court considers it as an emergency petition, so it needs to be heard by the judge as soon as possible to hopefully protect the people involved. The accused would be in court quite quickly, maybe within a week, to decide what to do in the civil protection order case.

If a protection order is granted against the person, then it would usually come with conditions like not having contact with the petitioner, and if they were living together then one party would have to vacate the home. If the respondent, the person who is receiving the order, is the bread winner and it is a husband and wife situation or they are in a relationship of partners, or if there are kids involved, then the person might be ordered to pay emergency family maintenance. Sometimes there are custody orders and visitation so there are all kinds of things that a judge can issue in those protective orders.

Although it is a civil order, a criminal charge could be placed on the person in violation of the protective order and they could go to jail if they violated the order, which is the danger of protective orders.

Often when criminal defendants have pending criminal assault charges, we go into the protective order case and just consent to the protective order. The defendant agrees to it because then the judge says that he will not be making any finding on the record that the person committed some sort of abuse, he is not hearing evidence and he is not making a decision about whether or not an assault occurred or something else. All the judge will do is issue an order because the person consented to it, so the person would agree to not have any contact with the other person.

This would be important because criminal defendants should not be testifying in a court under oath before their criminal case comes up, because what they said under oath in the protective order hearing can be used against them if they ended up having a trial in their criminal case months down the road. This is why the first thing I tell my clients is to not talk to the police, because a defendant does not want to have prior statements hanging out there.

How Does A Court Treat Repeat Offenders?

In any case, with any type of crime, in the beginning the person would probably be given probation if it was a small case and there was no serious damage or serious injuries. Probation by the court is considered rehabilitative, like a slap on the wrist and some rehabilitation.

If the person commits the same type of offense again, then the court or almost any judges will agree that the person did not learn their lesson the first time so they would have to do something different. They will put the person in jail for a little while, so it would just get progressively more serious and jail is always the main deterrent in the eyes of a judge.

What Might Help Someone In An Assault Case?

Photos of the person’s own injuries, witnesses, and having other third parties testify. Judges, especially in DC, feel obligated to give reasons on the record as to why they make decisions. Very often these judges find the testimony of other supposedly non-interested parties highly persuasive.

The criminal defense lawyer will have heard the victim’s version and the defendant’s versions, which were both very different, but then they also will have heard from Mr. X who was there. They believe third parties a lot, so it would help if someone had witnesses. Having one’s own injuries that corroborate what they say happened, especially in terms of self-defense, helps a lot, but it helps more than anything when they have other witnesses.

How Long Can An Assault Case Actually Last?

Any case in DC will last about ten times longer than the person would want it to last. DC has one of the slowest court systems on the planet. There will be a minimum of three visits to court before the person can even get a trial date if they want a trial, and once they have the date, if they are in a particular courtroom on a particular docket, they will find that there are six other cases also scheduled for trial in the courtroom and there may not be a judge available for them on that day.

The person can have all their witnesses there and people would have taken off from work but everyone would just sit there all day. If the person was lucky, they would get their trial started but that would not happen till 2 or 2:30 in the afternoon. The case would really not finish on that day so the person would have to go back on a fourth day, which might be the following day but likely not. DC is a nightmare when it comes to trying to get a case resolved, so the person might have to go to court anywhere from three to ten times.

For more information on Restraining Orders, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (240-292-7200) today.




DC Criminal Attorney