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Victim Consent Not Needed For Domestic Violence Charges

Posted on in BGL Law
Victim Consent Not Need for Domestic Violence ChargesVictims in fictional crime dramas will sometimes say “I don't want to press charges.” While this can have a dramatic effect in a television show, it is not how the real world works. In criminal cases, it is the prosecutor who chooses whether to press charges against a suspect, based on factors such as:

  • Application of the law;
  • Available evidence; and
  • Cooperation from witnesses.

The alleged victim's cooperation is often crucial in a successful prosecution of a suspect. If the alleged victim is uncooperative, the prosecutor may decide against pressing charges. However, the prosecutor may pursue charges despite the alleged victim's wishes, particularly in cases of domestic violence.

Criminal Charges

Once police respond to an incident of suspected domestic violence, the alleged victim has no say over whether charges will be brought. The responding officer collects testimony from the involved parties and documents evidence of violence that may have occurred. The local state's attorney will examine the police report from the incident to determine whether there is reason to pursue domestic violence charges.

Victim's Opinion

After the initial statement given to the police, some alleged domestic violence victims try to change or recant their statements. The motive is often to make the incident look more benign and avoid criminal charges. Because of the close relationship between parties in a domestic violence case, prosecutors are unlikely to be persuaded by the alleged victim's decision to change his or her story. Prosecutors believe that the alleged victim may be influenced by:

  • A desire to protect a loved one;
  • An acceptance that violence at home is normal; or
  • Pressure from the suspect.

Victim's Cooperation

The alleged victim's initial police statement is important evidence in a domestic violence case. Changing or recanting the statement can weaken the prosecution's evidence, forcing prosecutors to rely on other evidence. However, the prosecution can still compel the alleged victim to testify against the defendant, even if the two parties are married. Illinois law protects spouses from testifying about confidential communications between each other. Suspected domestic violence does not qualify as a confidential conversation.

How to Respond

If you have been charged with domestic violence, you must avoid any interaction with the alleged victim that could be construed as pressuring him or her to not cooperate with the prosecution. The alleged victim should also understand that recanting or significantly changing a police statement can result in criminal charges related to lying to the police. A McHenry County criminal defense attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can advise you on what to say and do when facing domestic violence charges. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.



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