Can A Domestic Violence Case Be Dismissed?

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingJan 02, 2024

Let's review the reasons why a prosecutor would dismiss a domestic violence case in California. I get a lot of calls from people who are charged with domestic violence, and of course, they all want to get their cases dismissed.  Sometimes, it is possible; other times, it's just simply not possible based on the facts and circumstances and, of course, the evidence the police were able to recover related to the case.

Many times, now, when the police go out to a scene, they're wearing a bodycam, so they're capturing all the information.  So, when witnesses later try to retract their statement, the police have that bodycam to be able to play for the jury in a potential trial. 

Can A Domestic Violence Case Be Dismissed?
There are reasons why a prosecutor would decide to dismiss a domestic violence case.

One of the most common charges is a domestic battery, defined under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC, which says, “When a battery is committed against a spouse, a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting, a person who is the parent of the defendant's child, former spouse, fiancé, or fiancée, or a person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship, the battery is punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. 

If probation is granted, or the execution or imposition of the sentence is suspended, it shall be a condition thereof that the defendant participates in, for no less than one year, and successfully completes, a batterer's treatment program, as described in Section 1203.097, or if none is available, another appropriate counseling program designated by the court. However, this provision shall not be construed as requiring a city, a county, or a city and county to provide a new program or higher level of service as contemplated by Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.”

Another typical domestic violence case is a corporal injury to a spouse, defined under Penal Code 273.5 PC, which says, “(a) Any person who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim described in subdivision (b) is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of up to $6,000, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

What Are the Best Legal Defense Strategies? 

Some of the ways that I would say are most common in trying to dismiss a case are there are no injuries. The police right now, especially in Los Angeles County and even surrounding counties to a degree, have a protocol that if they come out to a scene where somebody has been injured or someone is claiming they've been injured, they can figure out who the aggressor is. They're going to arrest somebody almost 100% of the time.

So, if you find yourself on the unlucky end of being arrested, you will want to get a criminal defense attorney to represent you immediately.  So, one of the ways is that there's not enough evidence to show that the person is injured, that is, the alleged victim.  That's a way to get them to reject the case, the prosecutors, and dismiss it if it is filed.

The other way is to point out some inconsistent things in the case; for example, if the person is claiming that they were punched in the face hard by a big guy and the person has no injuries, that would be inconsistent with the evidence, and that would undoubtedly be a good angle to attack the prosecutor's case and get it dismissed.  

Defense attorneys can use other legal strategies to challenge domestic violence cases, such as the following: 

  • You were acting in self-defense.
  • You did not commit a willful act.
  • You are falsely accused.

You can challenge a DV charge by invoking the defense of self-defense or others, which might work under the following conditions: 

  • You believed that you were in “imminent danger,”
  • You believed that force was necessary to stop the danger and
  • You used an appropriate level of force in defense.

Of course, one of the most classic ways to get that dismissal is to go to jury trial and win.  Have the evidence, I've done that many times, and beat the prosecutors and say, we don't care what you say, we didn't do anything wrong, and we're going to fight the case all the way tooth and nail.

Can You Use Witness Statements?

I think the last thing I would mention to you that we do a lot of times in the proper case is to write a letter to the prosecutors with statements from witnesses, if there are any. 

Sometimes, the alleged victim will even give a statement indicating that they said some things that they shouldn't have said. They weren't true because they were angry, or maybe some things were left out that needed to be told that the police did not gather.

Domestic Violence Defense

Then I, of course, can put my spin on what happened and give the prosecutors all the details because a lot of times when the police come out to these scenes in a domestic violence case, they are in a rush to judgment, and they don't get all the evidence.  

They only try to gather the evidence that helps them prove the case, and they don't try to look at the big picture.  That's what I'm here to do for you.  I will write a letter to the prosecutors before the case and try to get it rejected for you, to have them not even file the case in the first place.

So, these are all the things to give you an idea.  Of course, each case spins on its facts, so we've got to get you in and go over the whole situation.  We'll get a game plan together.  

Let me put my 30 years of experience to work for you.  I've worked for the prosecutors.  I've worked for a superior court judge, and I've been a criminal defense attorney defending people for domestic violence since the early 1990's. Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. The Hedding Law Firm has offices in Los Angeles, CA.

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