Dropping charges for domestic violence in Virginia is not solely at the discretion of the victim. In Virginia, the decision to drop or dismiss domestic violence charges in Virginia typically rests with the prosecuting attorney and the court. Here are the general steps and considerations:
Communicate with the Prosecutor: If you’re the victim and you wish to drop the charges, you can contact the prosecuting attorney assigned to the case. Explain your reasons for wanting to do so, but be aware that they may have concerns about your safety or may choose to proceed with the case even without your cooperation, especially if there is strong evidence or a history of violence.
Consider Protective Orders: If you are in fear of your safety, you may consider obtaining a protective order (also known as a restraining order) to provide a legal means to keep the alleged abuser away from you. Discuss this option with the prosecutor, and they can help guide you through the process.
Provide a Statement: The prosecutor may ask for your written statement or request that you testify in court regarding your desire to drop the charges. They will consider your input along with other factors in making a decision.
Consult with an Attorney: If you’re unsure about the legal process, it can be helpful to consult with an attorney who specializes in domestic violence charges in Virginia. They can provide you with guidance and help you navigate the legal system.
Understand the Prosecutor’s Discretion: It’s important to note that even if you request charges to be dropped, the prosecutor has the discretion to proceed with the case. This is because domestic violence cases often involve concerns for public safety and the possibility of ongoing threats to the victim.
Court Proceedings: If the prosecutor decides to proceed with the case, you may be required to testify in court. It’s important to cooperate with the court’s orders and attend any required hearings.
Seek Mediation or Counseling: In some cases, the prosecutor and the court may consider alternatives to prosecution, such as mediation or counseling, which can help address underlying issues and work toward resolution.
It’s crucial to understand that domestic violence law in Virginia is a serious crime and the state takes it very seriously. The goal is to protect victims and prevent further harm. If you are a victim of domestic violence and want to explore options for dropping charges or achieving a resolution, it’s advisable to consult with legal professionals who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.