By Jedidiah McKeehan
When someone asks me if they can dismiss a domestic assault charge, this question can come from either the defendant or the victim.
Let’s define the parties first. The defendant is the individual arrested and charged with committing the crime of domestic assault. The victim is the person assaulted by the defendant.
What’s the difference between assault and domestic assault? Usually the only difference is that the defendant and the victim have a relationship. Either boyfriend and girlfriend, husband and wife, parent and child, brother and sister, etc.
A domestic assault arrests usually starts with a fight. Yelling, throwing things, perhaps violence. Then the cops get called. What I tell people is, if someone calls the cops, they do not leave by themselves. Someone is going with them in the back of the police car, even if everything has calmed down by the time they arrive. Further, the cops do not show up just to calm people down and then leave. I repeat, if the cops get called, someone is going to jail.
When someone gets arrested, sometimes, but not always, there is immediate regret by the victim related to their decision to call the cops. They want to know how they can drop the charges. I am very sorry, but it does not work like that. The only way to drop the charges are to go to court on the defendant’s court date and speak with the District Attorney’s office about a possible dropping of the charges. Even if the victim wants to drop the charges, the District Attorney’s office does not have to agree to drop the charges.
Defendants may ask me the exact same question about getting their domestic assault charge dropped. They may swear up and down that the victim does not want to press charges against them. Sorry, but the charges do not get dropped just because you want them to be. You must appear at your court date and the District Attorney will want to talk to the victim on the court date and then a decision will be made as to whether the domestic assault charge will be dropped or there will be some other agreement reached.
So, can you get your domestic assault charge dropped? Technically, yes, but I am sorry to tell you, it is not something that can be done in a matter of a few days. It will take going to court and going through the formal legal process before that is even considered.
Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties. He works in many areas, including divorce, custody, criminal, and personal injury. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.