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Does a victim need to testify in a domestic violence case?

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2023 | Domestic Violence

Domestic violence allegations are perhaps the most common violent charges filed against adults in Minnesota. State prosecutors can pursue domestic violence charges against someone accused of misconduct toward a spouse, child or other household member, including a roommate.

Domestic violence charges often lead to very serious consequences for the party accused. The state can impose restrictions on their activities in addition to handing down a criminal sentence, and a violent crime may show up whenever someone does a background check in the future.

Can someone accused of domestic violence avoid a conviction by convincing the alleged victim in their case not to testify?

Recanted victim statements are very common

Minnesota police officers responding to domestic violence charges often have to make a snap judgment about the situation. They only view a tiny portion of what occurred, and they have to decide immediately if they need to take someone into state custody or take other steps for the protection of either party.

Oftentimes, what police officers witness when responding to a domestic violence call is significant enough to warrant the arrest of one of the parties involved. If prosecutors believe that witness statements, police officer experiences and medical records will be sufficient to obtain a conviction, they will potentially decide to pursue charges.

Given the often-complex relationships between those involved in domestic violence scenarios, the state often does not pursue a case where the victim’s statement is the only or primary source of evidence. Therefore, the alleged victim recanting the statement that they made to police will not automatically prevent the conviction of the defendant.

The prosecutor usually has evidence that they feel is strong enough to secure a conviction even without the cooperation of the alleged victim. That being said, when the other party involved in a scenario helps reframe the situation and testifies on behalf of the defendant, that may increase someone’s chances of avoiding conviction.

There are a variety of other defense options available. Someone might work with mental health professionals to help explore a claim that their behavior constituted reactive abuse rather than true domestic violence. A review of the state’s evidence with the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney can help someone accused of domestic violence develop the right defense strategy for their circumstances. Focusing on more authoritative evidence rather than on claims by an alleged victim may lead to a more successful defense strategy when responding to domestic violence charges in Minnesota.