April 28, 2016 • Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer
I’ve been defending clients against domestic violence charges for years. I handle them all the time here in Los Angeles County. Here’s what I know: In 9 out of 10 cases, the alleged victim will not want to testify. But that usually does not matter as the prosecutor will soldier on and claim that they can take the case to trial even without the testimony of the complaining witness. So just because your boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse says that he or she doesn’t want to testify against you, don’t get your hopes up that the case will be instantly dismissed. Here are some things you need to know.
First, the ONLY way to see if the case will be dismissed is to prepare and announce that you are ready for trial. If the case is to be dismissed, it will never happen until the day of trial. The prosecutor will claim that they can proceed with or without the victim.
But can they proceed? Well, that depends. Did your spouse or significant other make a panicked 911 call claiming that he or she was being beaten or felt like there was imminent danger? Were the statements made in an excited or stressed out state while they felt the imminent danger? Did the 911 call describe the nature of the incident and make it sound like the defendant was the one who perpetrated the attack? If so, then the prosecution may be able to proceed as these statements may be considered “non-testimonial” for 6th Amendment Confrontation Clause purposes and may also fall under the “Excited Utterance” exception to the hearsay rule.
Your lawyer is in the best position to analyze whether or not there’s a realistic shot at dismissal, but the bottom line is this: Don’t be afraid to announce you are ready for trial against domestic violence charges! Putting everyone’s feet to the fire and pushing to trial is often the best way to get the best possible result in any given case.
And another thing, if you know someone who has been subpoenaed to testify in a case involving domestic violence charges, do not under any circumstances try to dissuade them from following the directions on the subpoena. If there’s any question as to whether or not they are required to comply with the subpoena, they should contact a qualified criminal defense attorney for advice.
Finally, this is my criminal defense blog, so of course I’m going to say this: If you or a loved one is facing domestic violence charges in Los Angeles or anywhere in California and need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney, contact the Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg at (323) 633-3423 or via the secure contact form on this page for a free and confidential consultation.