Published in Criminal Law by Chris Eskew on August 19, 2022.
Please note that our law firm practices law solely in the state of Indiana, and therefore cannot provide legal services outside of this jurisdiction.
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.
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, 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?
By definition, domestic violence cases involve people who are in intimate or familial relationships with one another. Often, they love each other. Therefore, it is common for victims to change their minds after their loved one has been arrested. Victims often retract their statements or decide they want to dismiss the charges against the accused. However, many victims think they have the power to dismiss the charges. This is not true at all.
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.