July 19, 2018
Celebrity chef Grady Spears was recently arrested for assaulting his wife after police arrived on the scene due to a domestic violence complaint and found his wife covered in bruises. His wife stated at the scene that Spears had hit her multiple times.
However, Spears’ wife says that he had been taking medications for his back pain and potentially for other health conditions, but stopped taking the medication as directed. She contends that that is why the assault occurred.
She also stated that he is a “loving husband and father” and is “devastated by the allegations against him.” Spears’ case is still pending, but his wife’s statements may well be helpful in getting his case dismissed.
Wait a minute, though – isn’t it the prosecutor that decides whether or not to press domestic violence charges? Victims aren’t supposed to be able to choose whether their alleged abusers face criminal penalties, right?
While that is true, this high-profile case may very well illustrate the role that a victim can play in affecting the outcome of a case – and potentially even getting charges dropped or dismissed.
The Victim’s Role in Texas Domestic Violence Cases
If you are an alleged victim of domestic violence, you will play an essential role in the criminal case. You will most likely be required to testify in court, and to give your opinion on the behavior of the abuser. You may also be asked to retrieve evidence or documents relevant to the case.
Importantly, as mentioned above, the victim cannot drop criminal charges of domestic violence. However, as the victim, you can recant your original statements to police and investigators – in fact, 80-90% of domestic violence victims do just that.
This means that the victim is retracting the original claims of abuse made to police and investigators, either stating that the abuse did not occur, or that the original statements were exaggerated.
Understand that recanting alone will not necessarily force the State to dismiss the case, as prosecution can still use police reports, photographs of the injuries, and other evidence. Further, you may face charges of falsifying information to law enforcement authorities and/or the court. A knowledgeable Texas criminal lawyer will be able to advise you on how best to proceed if you wish to revise your original testimony or otherwise argue against your alleged abuser facing penalties.
Getting Domestic Violence Charges Dropped in Texas
Once again, victims do not file assault or domestic violence charges in Texas. Because domestic violence charges are a criminal case, the State files the charges against the abuser. Therefore, victims are unable to get domestic violence charges dropped.
That being said, though, there are certain steps you can take to encourage the State to drop the charges.
As the victim, it is important to remember the following:
- You can ask prosecution to drop the charges, but the prosecutor is trying to do the right thing, even if you do not agree with the decision.
- The victim asks to drop charges in the majority of domestic violence cases, so prosecutors regularly receive this request.
- Because emotional abuse is often a component of domestic violence, the prosecutor may determine that you have been manipulated and are unaware of the danger the abuser poses, or that you have been pressured to request that the charges be dropped.
- The prosecutor is concerned with your personal safety – and to some degree will be held accountable if he/she drops the charges and you are later injured or killed by your abuser.
Even if the victim and abuser are on the same page regarding pending domestic violence charges, it is not advisable to try to get the charges dropped alone. Consult with an experienced domestic violence to learn the most effective course of action.
About the Author:
The strength of Brian S. Eppes as a lawyer is in his unique and varied background. Like many other private attorneys, at one point he worked as a prosecutor. However, he also served in George W. Bush’s White House, has helped Texas legislators to write laws, and spent time at a tax and estate planning firm. These experiences have enabled him to look at cases in a different way than his peers and find creative solutions that benefit his clients.