A domestic violence case in Ohio often begins when a victim reports the incident to the police or files a restraining order against another person. At this point, the accused is typically arrested and may be convicted with misdemeanor or felony charges.
However, what happens if the victim changes their mind and no longer wishes to press charges?
In this blog, our team at Hiltner Trial Lawyers breaks down the details and tell you everything you need to know about domestic violence charges in the state of Ohio.
Can the victim drop domestic violence charges in Ohio?
The short answer is no.
Even if the domestic violence victim does not wish to press charges, they cannot get the charges dropped once they have already filed an initial report. As soon as higher authorities are involved, the case is no longer in the victim’s hands.
Frequently, once the victim has called the police, the accused is arrested shortly thereafter, as long as there is enough justification for probable cause. At this point, the criminal prosecutor is in charge of the case and can proceed with or without the victim’s agreement.
Here is why a prosecutor may proceed even if the victim does not cooperate:
- The defendant is perceived to be a threat to the victim, their family, or their community.
- The victim has been physically harmed.
- The victim is a minor or a vulnerable adult.
- There are signs that the victim has been coerced into withdrawing their accusation.
However, unlike criminal charges, a victim can ask to withdraw a request for a restraining order. A judge must first review this request and determine that the victim is making this request on their own accord, without being coerced by anybody else.
What does it take for a domestic violence case to be dropped?
Once the victim files a report or calls the police, the only parties who are able to drop the case are the prosecutor and the judge.
Here are the criteria under which a judge or prosecutor may drop domestic violence charges:
- There isn’t sufficient proof of probable cause at the time of arrest.
- There isn’t sufficient proof that a crime was committed.
- There is not enough admissible evidence to prosecute.
- The defense succeeds in negotiating with the prosecutor for a lesser charge, reaching an agreement in exchange for certain acts by the defendant (e.g. counseling), or by other means.
If the case is not dropped, and the court finds the defendant guilty of domestic violence, the consequences can be very serious.
What are the penalties for domestic violence in Ohio?
The penalties for domestic violence in Ohio depend on the severity of the charge, from misdemeanor to felony. The severity of the charge will depend on the circumstances of the event: whether there was a weapon involved, if the defendant had prior convictions, if the victim was a minor, etc.
Depending on the charges, a defendant could be sentenced with jail time from 60 days up to multiple years in jail, and/or fines from $500 to $10,000.
These penalties come in addition to repetitional damage to the defendant, as a domestic violence charge will appear in background checks, impeding future employment and housing opportunities.
Contact Hiltner Trial Lawyers if charged with domestic violence in Ohio
Even if a victim asks to drop charges of domestic violence, the prosecution can still proceed with the case. At this point, it takes a team of dedicated defense attorneys to negotiate for the case to be dropped, or to defend your rights in court.
At Hiltner Trial Lawyers, we’ll use all of our experience, resources, and knowledge to give you the best defense possible against domestic assault charges. If you are accused in Ohio, please contact us and schedule a free consultation.