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What happens when a domestic violence victim recants?

Domestic violence is a serious issue here in Dallas and throughout the country. Husbands and fathers who are convicted of abuse may see time in prison, mandatory anger management classes and restraining orders taken out against them. We've spent the past few entries on our blog discussing the types of protection available for victims. But it's also not uncommon for accusations reported to police to be later recanted by the accusers.

One study reported that over 80 percent of domestic violence victims recant. These situations are often chaotic and highly emotional for all parties and the facts can get confused. Sometimes statements are made in the heat of the moment and later modified or withdrawn entirely. But Dallas fathers accused of domestic violence should be aware that it's not so simple in the eyes of the law.

Once a criminal charge is filed based on an allegation of domestic violence, only the prosecution can decide whether to drop it. The purported victim cannot because it's not the victim who pursues criminal charges, it's the state. If the prosecution has other forms of evidence besides a victim's testimony (e.g., photographs, police reports, testimony from witnesses), they may decide to proceed even without the victim's participation.

If criminal charges are dropped, however, fathers may still find they face other consequences. Child custody proceedings in particular may be influenced by the mere fact of a domestic violence accusation or arrest, even in cases where testimony was recanted. Being perceived by the court as a good father is an important element in determining what kind of a custody arrangement or visitation schedule may take shape. A legal professional can help support Dallas fathers through complex, sensitive family law issues like these.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Can the Victim Drop Domestic Violence Charges?," accessed on Jan. 12, 2015

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