The role of domestic violence survivors in filing charges

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2023 | Criminal Defense

In cases of domestic violence in Texas, understanding who has the authority to file charges can provide clarity to survivors and their families. Often, the dynamics of domestic violence can make the decision to press charges complex and emotionally fraught.

This article will explore the power a domestic violence survivor has in determining whether charges get filed against their aggressor.

Determining who files charges

Contrary to popular belief, domestic violence survivors do not have ultimate control over whether the prosecution files charges against their aggressor. Once the survivor notifies the police of an alleged domestic violence incident, they collect evidence and statements, which they then pass along to the prosecutor’s office.

The role of the prosecutor

The prosecutor, not the survivor, ultimately decides whether to file charges. The prosecutor reviews the evidence and decides if it supports a reasonable belief that a crime occurred and that the alleged aggressor committed it. The prosecutor makes their decision in the interest of public safety and holds true even if the survivor does not want to proceed with the charges.

Survivor’s wishes

While the prosecutor holds the authority to file charges, they do consider the survivor’s wishes. A survivor’s reluctance to press charges or participate in the prosecution can influence the course of the case. However, even if a survivor wishes to drop charges, the prosecutor can still proceed if they believe the evidence is strong enough.

Protection of survivors

Texas law aims to protect domestic violence survivors. If the prosecutor proceeds with charges against the survivor’s wishes, it is generally to safeguard the survivors and prevent further violence. In some instances, the court may issue a protective order prohibiting the alleged aggressor from contacting or approaching the survivor.

Despite the complexities of these situations, Texas law remains firmly committed to protecting survivors and preventing further violence. It is critical for survivors to know their rights and how the legal process unfolds in such cases.