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If the person who filed the DV case wants to drop the case, Is a year in jail still mandatory, or can a fine paid end all of it?

Seattle, WA |

Was recently mailed a letter stating that I am due in court for arrainment on January 11th for a DV case filed against me. Although she wishes to drop the case and state that it was a misunderstanding, and I am no threat and was not arrested nor were charges filed against me, is it still possible to get a year in jail or pay a fine? When I have no previous convictions of anything? Or is a fine to be paid to end all of it. Can the judge still hand down a sentence even when there is no peril between the two people involved? And if she speaks to the District Attorney directly to stop the process? Can the district attorney have power to drop the case as well? What is in store for the situation?

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Attorney answers 3


It is more a question of what she reported at the time than what she has to say now. She is not the one bringing the charge. The prosecutor is bringing the charge. She is merely a witness. If she changes her story about what happened she could potentially face false reporting, obstruction, false information or perjury charges. The prosecutor and Judge are likely to believe that she's changing her story or not wanting to go forward now exactly because she is a domestic violence victim and she's afraid of what you will do to her if she testifies against you. This is a much trickier and nuanced situation than you likely understand. You'll want to go over all of these details with your attorney in person to have a better comprehension of your case and situation.
At your service,


There appear to be two questions here: what time will I get if convicted and what is going to happen if she wants to drop the charges against me. I can answer the first question quite quickly: there is no way to know this. The maximum penalty if you are convicted is 364 days in jail, but the chances of you getting this at your sentencing if convicted is fairly small and will depend on the nature of the offense, your remorse at committing the offense (if you did commit the offense), the steps you've taken to rectify the situation so that it will not happen again (in DV counseling, alcohol treatment or whatever). What effect on the case her trying to get the case dropped is also unknown. It will depend on the jurisdiction this occurred in (who the prosecutor and the judge are), what exactly she said to the police on the day of the offense, what the police and any witnesses observed about the event, what she is saying now, and many other factors. You should get an attorney experienced in defending DV cases immediately. You should also consult my guide about victims requesting getting charges dropped for how this works in Washington.


What will happen to a DV case when the alleged victim does not want the case prosecuted?
It is frequently the case that an alleged victim of a domestic violence case does not want to participate in prosecution. If she communicates this to the prosecutor it will NOT automatically result in the case being dismissed. Once the case is filed, it is up to the prosecutor whether to pursue the prosecution and the prosecutor often assumes the alleged victim has been pressured into saying now that nothing happened. The most effective way to push for dismissal of the case in this situation is to get an effective attorney, not only for you, but a seperate attorney for the alleged victim who can advocate for her position to the prosecutor and protect her from being bullied by them or charged with false reporting now that she has changed her story.

What will I face if convicted given that I have no previous convictions?

It is impossible to predict the outcome of any case. You and a lawyer experienced in handling domestic violence cases should consult about the specific allegations in your case. There are dispositions that are sometimes offered to first-time offenders that do not involve a conviction on your record or jail time, but do involve the person charged attending domestic violence treatment.

Make sure you get a lawyer who is experienced in handling domestic violence cases and consult with that person about whether it makes sense to retain a second attorney to represent the alleged victim.

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