Published in Criminal Law by Chris Eskew on March 17, 2024.

Please note that our law firm practices law solely in the state of Indiana, and therefore cannot provide legal services outside of this jurisdiction.

In domestic violence cases in Indiana, the absence of the victim at trial doesn’t automatically mean dismissal. Legal nuances and strategic defense play a critical role.

Key Takeaways

  • Domestic violence charges in Indiana can result in serious consequences, including jail time and loss of parental rights.
  • Victims may recant or refuse to testify due to various personal reasons.
  • Prosecutors can still pursue the case with alternative evidence if the victim doesn’t appear in court.
  • A skilled attorney can navigate the complexities of such trials, advocating for the accused’s rights.

Navigating Domestic Violence Charges

If you were charged with a domestic violence-related offense and the case is proceeding to trial, you should seek immediate representation by a skilled defense lawyer.

When a person is arrested for a domestic violence charge, there are often immediate restrictions placed upon them by a restraining order. If you’ve been charged with such a crime, you might be forced to move out of your home.

At Eskew Law, our attorneys will craft a case strategy tailored to you. Contact us to schedule a confidential consultation.  

If you’ve been charged with domestic violence, you may be wondering what happens if the victim doesn’t show up at the trial. We will cover that here and what else yo need to know.

Domestic Violence Charges in Indiana

In Indiana, any domestic violence-related crime is a serious offense. One of the most commonly charged offenses is domestic battery. Domestic battery pertains to crimes against family members or members of your household. 

Under Indiana law, a person commits domestic battery if they knowingly or intentionally:

  • Touch a family or household member in a rude, insolent, or angry manner; or
  • Place any bodily fluid or waste on a family or household member in a rude, insolent, or angry manner.

The specific circumstances will determine if it is charged as a misdemeanor or felony.

If a judge or jury convicts you following a domestic violence trial, the penalties can go beyond those of other crimes. In addition to potential jail time, probation, and fines, a conviction can include loss of custody or parental rights, protective orders, and sex offender registration.

Why Would a Domestic Violence Victim Not Show Up to Trial?

If a victim fails to appear for a preliminary hearing despite receiving a subpoena, they risk serious legal repercussions.

This includes the possibility of arrest for contempt of court. Additionally, their absence might impact the outcome of the case, potentially leading to delays or dismissal.

It’s crucial for victims to fulfill their legal obligations and attend scheduled court proceedings, as failure to do so can significantly affect the judicial process and their own rights in the legal proceedings.

If the victim tells the prosecutor they don’t want to go forward with the charges, the prosecutor will likely try to convince the victim that they should continue cooperating. Prosecutors are used to this, and they do not give up easily.

They will do everything in their power, including summoning victims to court with subpoenas, to get them to testify against you. And even if this pressure campaign doesn’t get the victim to show up, the prosecutor might still proceed with the case if they can.

Common Reasons a Victim Might Not Cooperate

There are three main reasons why a victim of domestic violence will recant their statements and refuse to testify. 

  • Fear or intimidation by the defendant,
  • Financial dependence on the defendant, or
  • Love for the defendant, culminating in a desire to save them from a criminal conviction.

In any given situation, one or more of these reasons might be at play.

What Happens if the Victim Refuses to Testify?

If you were charged with domestic battery and the case proceeds to trial, you might wonder, What happens if the victim refuses to testify? Or you might wonder, What happens if the victim doesn’t show up at the trial for domestic violence? 

The answer is not clear-cut and largely depends on whether the prosecutor has evidence of the crime that does not come from the alleged victim. So if the victim’s testimony is the only evidence the State has, and they refuse to testify, the State may have no choice but to dismiss the case.

However, if the State has evidence of the crime unrelated to the victim’s testimony—the prosecutor might choose to proceed with the trial even if the victim is a no-show. 

Proceeding to Trial Without Victim Cooperation

If the victim absolutely refuses to testify, the prosecutor will determine if there is enough alternative evidence to proceed with the case. This evidence may include:

  • Other witnesses, 
  • Forensic evidence,
  • The defendant’s confession,
  • Victim statements to police,
  • Video surveillance, and
  • A recorded 911 call.

If the prosecutor has any such evidence, they may decide the victim’s testimony is not necessary and proceed with the trial. 

Call Our Experienced Attorney Today

If you have been charged with domestic battery or any other domestic violence-related offense in Indiana, contact Eskew Law today. Our knowledgeable and experienced lawyers stand ready to defend you.

Call us to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss the charges against you, potential defenses, and anticipated outcomes. Our goal is to help the people of Indiana with situations they cannot handle on their own. Let us help you.

Author Photo
Chris Eskew

Chris Eskew is the founding partner of Eskew Law. With over 15 years of experience, he focuses his practice on criminal defense, DUI defense, and family law. Chris is known for his dedication to his clients, his strong advocacy skills, and his commitment to achieving the best possible outcomes in legal matters. He is well-respected within the legal community and has earned a reputation for providing personalized and effective representation.