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If the victim recants, are domestic violence charges dismissed?

Most of the time, domestic violence charges are largely a matter of one person's word against the other. This means that some people in the Gwinnett County suburbs of Atlanta might think that if an alleged victim of domestic violence recants his or her story by saying the violence did not happen or simply refuses to cooperate, then the criminal case is effectively over.

While of course it helps prosecutors when an alleged victim is willing to go forward with the charges, the police and prosecutors are actually quite accustomed to their star witnesses backing out of domestic violence cases and are fully prepared to move on with or without the victim. Specifically, police are trained to pick up on other clues and evidence of whether violence occurred, and they also have ways of capturing what an alleged victim initially said about violence when they called the police and then using those statements in court.

As such, those accused of domestic violence should remember that once a relative, friend or loved one makes a police report, they have no power to demand that charges be dropped. In fact, if they simply refuse to testify, they can be compelled to do so on the pain of winding up in jail themselves for not cooperating with the court.

It is true though that there is nothing that controls exactly what an alleged victim will say when he or she takes the stand. However, should their story about abuse change profoundly, they may find themselves in trouble for lying to the police.

For these reasons, it's generally not a good idea for a person accused of domestic violence to try to talk to the alleged victim, at least not without experienced legal representation, in order to get them to drop the charges or change their story, even if it is true that no violence occurred. In fact, doing so may even be a violation of a protective order issued as a condition of bond and could thus mean additional time in jail.

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