Domestic Violence and how Texas Can Handle the Charges
I get calls all the time, and I get questions by my clients about why they or their loved ones are being charged with domestic violence (assault – family member) if they told the police that they did not want to press charges. Yes….the State of Texas can “pick up the charges”.
I have seen the same fact pattern over and over. A couple gets into an argument and someone calls the cops. When the police arrive, the person who called says, “he/she hit me”. The officers do their investigation and then ask the complainant if they want to press domestic violence charges. Many times they say no, but their loved one still gets charged with domestic violence. This confuses many people. What happens is the officer typically gets on the phone, calls one of the Assistant District Attorneys who is working intake, they explain to the ADA what they saw, and what they learned, and the ADA makes the decision whether to accept charges or not. So the decision of whether or not a person gets charged with domestic violence is ultimately up to the ADA.
This is hard to understand for a lot of people, and its easy to see why they are confused. I mean why should a person be charged if the complainant doesn’t want them to be?
The States Point of View on Domestic Violence Charges
The State feels that these cases are unique in the sense that the personal ties between the individuals can impact their judgment. They feel that many times individuals were assaulted, but don’t want their significant other to go to jail because they love them, or for many other reasons (fear, the fact that they make the money, etc).
You make think it’s impossible to prove a case without a complainant (and many times it is very tough), but the State can still use certain items (on a case by case basis) to try to prove their cases. Some of these items are:
- 911 calls
- Witness Statements
- Medical Records
- EMS Records
- Photographs of Injuries and Scene
- Recorded Video of Scene, etc
The fact of the matter is, sometimes the evidence that a person gives to an officer, is actually what gets the defendant charged in the end. This is even if they don’t want to press domestic violence charges.
This is a semi-complex area of law when the complaining witness is not available or unwilling to testify. Still, the short answer to the question of whether the State can go forward with charges when the complainant does not want to press domestic violence charges is…Yes.