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California's No Drop Policy

Posted by Neil Shouse | Mar 23, 2010 | 0 Comments

Contrary to popular belief, it is the prosecutor, not the victim who determines whether to file or drop California domestic violence charges. Many California prosecuting agencies go so far as to subscribe to a “no drop” policy. This means that even if the victim doesn't want to “press charges”, the prosecutor will not “drop” the case.

There are two main reasons why prosecutors follow this protocol. The first is purely political. Due in large part to the O.J. Simpson murders trial, this state has vowed to take an aggressive stance on domestic violence charges.

The second has to do with a common phenomenon known as the recanting victim. “Recanting victims” are alleged victims of domestic abuse who change their stories once charges are officially filed.

The fact is that many victims initiate false spousal abuse charges and then decide they want to come clean. Unfortunately, by then it's too late. Prosecutors and the “no drop” policy oftentimes proceed on the incorrect assumption that the original report is true and that the victim is only changing her mind because (1) she is scared of the abuse she will face after testifying, and/or (2) she doesn't want to lose her financial support.

Because of this policy, it is a good idea for all parties involved in a domestic abuse case to consult with a skilled California domestic violence lawyer who knows the most effective ways to reconcile spousal battery cases before they get out of hand. (The law is similar in Nevada: Read our article, "Can a recanting victim stop a battery domestic violence criminal charge in Nevada?")

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

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