When Can Domestic Violence Charges Be Dismissed?

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on January 14, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

There are many ways to get arrested on domestic violence charges. But there are also numerous reasons why those charges may later be dismissed.

In the case of soccer star and goalie for the U.S. Women's National Team Hope Solo, a judge dismissed the two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence assault Solo was facing following a motion filed by Solo's attorneys, reports Seattle's KING-TV. According to Solo's attorneys, the two alleged victims failed to show up for scheduled depositions and had changed their version of events on the night of the alleged assaults.

What led to the judge's decision in this case, and what are some of the other common reasons that domestic violence charges may be dismissed?

Uncooperative Victims

A victim's cooperation or testimony is not necessarily required to prosecute domestic violence charges. Generally, the victim does not have the authority to drop charges against a person arrested for domestic violence, and the case may still proceed even if the victim refuses to testify.

However, an uncooperative victim, or a victim who recants his or her story, may make it more difficult for prosecutors to carry their burden of proof in a case. This may in turn make it more likely that prosecutors or a judge may ultimately dismiss the charges against the defendant, as the judge in Hope Solo's case decided.

Lack of Evidence, Alternative Resolution

Domestic violence charges may also be dismissed if there's a lack of sufficient or admissible evidence. Even when a victim cooperates, if a prosecutor does not feel that there is enough evidence to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, he or she may opt to drop the charges rather than pursue the case.

Some jurisdictions may also offer alternatives to the criminal justice system for some accused domestic violence offenders, allowing defendants who agree to counseling or other requirements to have their charges dismissed in exchange.

These are just a few ways that domestic violence charges can be dismissed. To learn more, head over to FindLaw's comprehensive section on Criminal Procedure.

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