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Is victim testimony necessary in domestic violence cases?

Posted by William Walraven | Dec 06, 2021 | 0 Comments

Domestic violence charges are among the most common violent offenses prosecuted in California. People can face charges because their spouse, child or roommate made a report to the police. They can also wind up arrested and charged with a crime because a neighbor or stranger contacted law enforcement.

Police officers responding to a domestic violence call in California often arrest someone if they believe there is evidence to support the allegation of domestic violence. Even if neither party involved wants an arrest to occur, charges may still result from a household confrontation.

Will the victim refusing to testify prevent the state from convicting you?

California typically only prosecutes if they can convict without a witness

The prosecution of domestic violence offenses has historically been very difficult. Even in situations involving severe injury, victims are often reticent to testify. Even those who file a report or admit to police that they have faced physical abuse may also recant their statements later, making prosecution especially hard.

To prevent such complications, prosecutors typically build domestic violence cases based on testimony provided by neighbors, police officers or other witnesses rather than testimony from the alleged victim. They may not speak to the victim or require that person's presence in court. Third party testimony, medical records, previous calls to the police or prior criminal charges against the defendant can also influence domestic violence cases.

Unfortunately, simply convincing the other person not to testify will not be sufficient to avoid prosecution. In fact, it may not have any impact on your case at all. However, that doesn't mean you are without defense options. Learning what contributes to domestic violence charges in California can help you make better decisions about your case.

About the Author

William Walraven

Education Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco, California Juris Doctor - 2008 University of California at Los Angeles B.A. - 2000 Major: Psychology Past Positions McGrane LLP, Associate Attorney Trepel, Greenfield, Sullivan and Draa LLP, Associate Attor...


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