Individuals in Tennessee and around the country who accuse family members of acts of domestic violence sometimes choose to recant the statements they made to law enforcement. Some accusers do this because they made up or embellished their stories and are worried that their allegations will be proved false in a court of law. Others choose to recant because they have a change of heart or rely on the alleged abuser for financial support. However, once a crime has been reported to the police, a chain of events is set into motion that may not be easy to stop.
Dropping the charges
Most people have seen police officers in films or television shows become frustrated when a crime victim refuses to press charges or asks for charges to be dropped, but that is not how things work in the real world. This is because these decisions are made by prosecutors and not victims. Securing a conviction in a domestic violence case could be challenging for a prosecutor if the victim refuses to cooperate, but that may not stop them from moving the case forward if they have other evidence.
Evidence of domestic violence
Prosecutors may choose to take their chances in court, even if the victim declines to testify because they know that criminal defendants rarely take the stand in their own defense. They may also have a large amount of compelling evidence because the information provided by the victim before he or she recanted gave police what they needed to conduct a thorough investigation. This evidence could include:
- Audio recordings of the 911 call that was made to report the incident
- Photographs of the injuries suffered by the victim
- The testimony of people who saw the events unfold and remain cooperative
- Medical records indicating a pattern of abuse
- Online communication, like emails or social media posts, that could establish motive and intent
- A defendant the jury is unlikely to find sympathetic
Plea agreements in domestic violence cases
When presented with this kind of evidence, experienced criminal defense attorneys may urge individuals accused of domestic violence to consider accepting a plea agreement even if the alleged victim has recanted. However, if their clients maintain their innocence, and the evidence against them is not convincing, lawyers may suggest arguing the facts of the case before a jury.