When Can Domestic Violence Charges Be Dismissed?

Recently, Johnny Manziel, the former Cleveland Browns quarterback and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, was indicted on domestic violence charges. Colleen Crowley, one of Manziel’s ex-girlfriends, is accusing him of hitting and threatening her in an assault that took place in February.

This case is getting a lot of coverage in the media due to Manziel’s celebrity and notoriety, but it does bring up a common question concerning domestic violence charges. Although Manziel was formerly indicted by a grand jury for a misdemeanor charge, which is unusual, and plans to plead not guilty, what are the chances his charges might be dismissed?

Despite what many people assume, if an alleged victim decides not to press charges against his or her attacker, the case isn’t automatically dismissed. So what are grounds for dismissal in domestic violence cases?

Uncooperative witnesses. As mentioned above, if a victim wants to drop the charges against someone arrested for domestic violence, the case can still move forward. Even if the victim refuses to testify. But an uncooperative victim or a victim who changes or recants their story can make it difficult for prosecutors to prove their case.

An uncooperative victim might make themselves unavailable during the investigation or trial. He or she might not show up for depositions, might admit they wanted their attacker to leave the house but not be prosecuted, might fail to remember some or all of the facts of the incident in question, or they might simply downplay the impact of the incident.

There are numerous reasons why an alleged victim might be uncooperative, including fear, embarrassment, confusion, reconciliation, guilt, and other factors. Often, someone may call the police in the heat of an argument only to later regret their decision because they believe the charges are too harsh. Regardless of the reason why, though, an uncooperative witness can be helpful to a defendant accused of domestic violence.

Look at the case of Jose Reyes, shortstop for the Colorado Rockies. He was arrested for a domestic violence assault last Halloween in Hawaii. But in March, Maui prosecutors decided to dismiss their case against Reyes, saying that his wife – the alleged victim – is an uncooperative witness.

Denver Domestic Violence Attorney

Lack of evidence. Domestic violence charges can potentially be dismissed if there is lack of sufficient or admissible evidence. The prosecution has to be able to prove the defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. So, if there isn’t enough evidence to prove the defendant is guilty – even if the victim is cooperative – the prosecution might decide to drop the charges instead of risking a not guilty verdict.

Experienced Colorado domestic violence attorney. Once you have been arrested for a domestic violence offense, you should contact a qualified Colorado domestic violence attorney with proven results as soon as possible. A knowledgeable and respected attorney by your side is your best bet for getting your charges dismissed or reduced. Your lawyer will be able to assess your case, look at all the facts, and determine the best defense strategy.

Additionally, your lawyer should be able to ask for a Motion to Dismiss the charges against you and cite a reason why. If the charges aren’t dismissed, your lawyer will have another opportunity to get your charges dismissed at the first trial meeting. Presenting your initial reason for dismissal as well as another reason might possibly work in your favor.

Domestic violence charges aren’t always dismissed, but if you are seeking a dismissal, your lawyer will be able to determine whether one is possible for your case.


About the Author:

Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.