Failing To Cooperate With Domestic Abuse Charges: Can You Be Forced To Testify?

5 June 2020
 Categories: , Blog


In some cases, a spouse bringing domestic violence charges may ask for the charges to be dropped. The spouse does not, in fact, have the authority to dismiss the charges. If the victim fails to cooperate with the charges, moreover, they could find themselves needing felony lawyers.

The following are five scenarios that could unfold if you decide not to proceed with domestic violence charges against your spouse. 

The State Drops the Charges

Although only the prosecutor can drop the charges, the following actions on your part could lead to a withdraw of domestic abuse charges. 

An affidavit 

If you change your mind about proceeding with domestic violence charges, you may file an affidavit stating your change of heart. Without a cooperative witness, the prosecutor may conclude there is "no reasonable likelihood of successful prosecution" and make the decision to drop the charges.

Failure to appear in court 

If you fail to appear for the court hearing and, as above, prosecutors do not feel they can get a conviction without your testimony, they may choose to not proceed with the case. 

A Subpoena to Appear Is Served 

Or the state could decide to proceed with the charges, despite your express wishes. Many factors could weigh in on this decision, including if:

  • the perpetrator is a repeated domestic violence offender 
  • strong physical evidence (e.g., photos, x-rays) and/or witness testimony exists 
  • evidence exists of coercion being used to force the victim to drop the charges 

In this case, you could be served with a court order to appear in court.

A Witness Warrant Is Served 

If you fail to comply with the subpoena, the judge can order the service of a material witness warrant on you. Failing to comply with this warrant is a felony offense, which could lead to a jail sentence and fines. Consultation of felony attorneys is advised. Your attorney can accompany you to court or appear in court on your behalf. 

An Investigation Into Coercion Is Conducted 

Most victims drop charges due to emotional appeals from the offending spouse. However, if evidence suggests the victim has been threatened and otherwise coerced into recanting charges of domestic violence, the authorities could unilaterally launch an investigation. Once the threat is controlled, the victim could be asked to reinstate their cooperation.

The prosecutors can still decide to proceed with the case without your testimony. They will proceed if they have evidence such as a confession from the spouse, witnesses, physical evidence, and so on. The evidence needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, with 99 percent certainty, that the abused committed the act of domestic violence.

For more information, contact a felony lawyer in your area.