Can a Complaining Witness Drop Domestic Violence Charges Against You in Pennsylvania?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | May 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

Allegations of domestic violence occur in countless different circumstances. In many cases, a heated argument or simmering disagreement can boil over into a physical altercation. In other cases, a domestic violence arrest could result from a misunderstanding or even a false accusation.

Once the tempers of those involved calm and reality sets in, many complaining witnesses in a domestic violence case realize they do not want to pursue the charges against their spouse or loved one. Despite what you might have seen on television, it is not as simple as a complaining witness to declare they have dropped these charges. Once the police have made an arrest, what happens next is out of the hands of the involved parties.

Thankfully, there are steps that can be taken to undo a prosecution for domestic violence. While a positive outcome is never guaranteed, attorney Joseph D. Lento can work to ensure the case against you is dismissed.

The Power to Drop Charges

In Pennsylvania, only the party that filed the criminal charges has the power to drop them. Specifically, only the district attorney that brought the charges originally has the power to drop them before trial. Whether or not a case proceeds is entirely at their discretion.

This is because a criminal offense is technically a crime committed against society as a whole. While a complaining witness can bring a case to light, they do not have the power to seek for the entire jurisdiction on whether or not the prosecution should move forward.

That does not mean it is impossible to convince the prosecutor that brought the charges to change their mind. An experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney could demonstrate to the district attorney that the complaining witness does not want to cooperate. They could also provide additional information that shows the case against their client is weak. Some of the factors that can push the district attorney to drop a domestic violence charge include:

  • The complaining witness recants their story
  • The complaining witness refuses to cooperate with the prosecution
  • The accused has strong alibi evidence
  • Independent witnesses corroborate the defendant's version of events
  • The prosecution determines their resources are better spent on other cases

It is not enough to have solid evidence in your favor. You need a strong advocate that knows how to work with a prosecutor to resolve your case favorably.

Let Attorney Joseph D. Lento Help

Try as you might, there are some domestic violence cases that will never be dropped by the prosecution. This is true even when the complaining witness refuses to participate. That does not mean you are out of luck. In fact, these cases are often winnable at trial due to the lack of evidence or strong testimony from a complaining witness.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento can guide you through every aspect of a domestic violence arrest. From working with the prosecution to have them dismiss your case to defending you at trial, he has the experience you need to obtain a favorable outcome. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento as soon as possible at 888-535-3686 to discuss your options.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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