Can a Victim Drop Domestic Assault Charges in NYC?

Charges for domestic assault are some of the most complicated and personal that a private defense lawyer in NYC will handle. Not only can these charges result in serious repercussions if you are convicted, but they also involve matters of the heart and home.

In some instances, domestic violence charges are the result of ongoing tension and discrepancy in a relationship. Alternatively, a domestic assault lawyer has cases involving an isolated incident or event. One commonality is that once the room has cleared and passions diffused, both the victim and defendant look at the incident in a new light.

On many occasions, our team at Greco Neyland hears that a victim has decided to drop the domestic assault charges. Following this decision, a defendant to domestic assault charges has a number of questions: What does this mean for my case? Am I free of all charges? Can I have contact with the victim? Unfortunately, the answers aren’t as simple.

How Is a Defendant Charged with Domestic Assault?

In NYC, charges for domestic assault typically come about because the victim, a neighbor, bystander, or concerned party made a phone call to the police. Upon arrival at the residence or other location, the police determined that a domestic assault did occur and made an arrest. At this time, a defendant should contact an NYC domestic assault lawyer.

Congruent with criminal procedure, the NYPD or other law enforcement will conduct an investigation of the incident. The police will collect any additional evidence from the scene and eyewitnesses. Law enforcement will also take a statement from the alleged victim. Based on this evidence, and based primarily on the statement of the victim, the prosecutor will file charges for domestic assault against the defendant.

Can the Victim Withdraw or Drop Domestic Assault Charges?

On television shows and in the movies, we often see the victim recanting his or her statement and choosing to drop the charges against the defendant. In these fictitious situations, the NYPD and prosecutor simply don’t proceed with a criminal case, and the work of a domestic assault lawyer is finished. This isn’t the case in real life.

Once an NY prosecutor has issued charges for domestic assault the alleged victim no longer has authority to have these charged dropped. While the victim is the individual wronged, crimes in NY are offenses against the state and violate state law, not individual rights. Therefore, it is at the discretion and decision of the prosecutors, whether hired by the state, county, or city, to determine what happens to a domestic assault case.

Is a Victim Required to Cooperate with the Prosecutor?

While a victim doesn’t have authority over the process of criminal charges, he or she does have a big impact on the outcome. An alleged victim’s statements of domestic assault are highly influential at trial. A jury is far more likely to convict a defendant at domestic assault with this testimony, than without.

Of course, a victim’s determination not to cooperate with the prosecutor can only go so far. In NY, a prosecutor can compel a victim to testify by subpoena. Unless the victim has a reason to invoke the Fifth Amendment or recant earlier statements to the police, the victim must answer questions under oath.

If a Victim Wants to Drop the Assault Charges Can a Defendant Contact the Victim?

Many domestic assault charges result in the victim seeking a restraining order against the defendant. However, this isn’t always the case and is at the discretion and option of the victim, as these court orders are for the protection and safety of the beneficiary and a civil matter. If there is no restraining order in place and the victim consents to communication from the defendant, there is no legal barrier.

However, while charges for domestic assault are pending trial, it isn’t advisable to have contact with an alleged victim. A subsequent incident could result in more ammunition for the prosecutor or further charges. If you are uncertain about the impact of a restraining order or other court order, speak with a domestic assault lawyer handling your defense.

Haven’t hired a domestic assault lawyer in NYC? Greco Neyland Attorneys at Law is a private defense firm located right in Manhattan. We are among the most respected domestic assault defense lawyer in NYC and ready to take your case. Call us at (212) 951-1300.

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