I was recently asked if a domestic violence assault will be dismissed if the witness doesn’t show up. The complaining witness’s (alleged victim’s) testimony, in the case is going to be a big piece of the state’s case against you in a domestic violence case. If that witness is unavailable, it could make it more likely that your case is dismissed, but there are a lot of other pieces to the puzzle.
For the district attorney’s office to get a conviction in a case, they need to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant broke the law. In an assault case or other domestic violence case, it’s common for the case to be a “he said, she said” case. The state has a lot of tools to make sure that the victim shows up to testify and even if they don’t there are other ways they may be able to get a conviction.
It’s common in family violence cases for the victim to no longer want to press charges and not want to testify against a current or ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. The prosecutor will usually subpoena the victim to get them to testify. A subpoena is a court order, requiring a witness to come to court and testify. If the witness does not come to court, the judge can send an officer to pick the witness up and bring him to court. If the prosecutor believes that a witness will not show up to testify, they can also request an attachment. This means that the witness would be taken into custody and held in jail until needed to testify.
If a witness is unavailable at trial, there are other ways the prosecutor can use other types of evidence to try and get a conviction. Any statements that were made by the defendant can be brought in to trial. If there were any admissions that were made, the victim may not be needed to testify. If there were any other witnesses, those witnesses may be able to testify as to what happened. The prosecutor will also be able to use photos and video of the condition of the victim at the time the officers showed up. Lastly, 911 calls can usually come into evidence even if the caller is not available to testify.
If the victim does not want to testify, the state has several ways to get them to come in to testify. Even if they do not testify for whatever reason, there may be other ways that the state can try and win a domestic violence charge. If you’re charged with a domestic violence charge, it’s important to hire an attorney who regularly handles these cases and is familiar with the issues that come up in these cases.