What’s the Best Way to Get Domestic Violence Charges Dismissed?

How to Get Domestic Violence Charges Dismissed

Finding yourself accused of domestic violence can be an incredibly stressful and frightening situation. Your reputation, relationships, career, and future are on the line. In Tennessee, domestic violence allegations are taken very seriously by prosecutors and judges. So, how can you get domestic violence charges dropped or dismissed and move on with your life?

There are several legal ways charges could potentially be dropped or dismissed. As your defense attorneys, we would need to review the details of your case to determine the best strategies to pursue based on the specific circumstances and evidence.

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of Tennessee’s domestic violence laws, outline key defense strategies for getting charges dismissed, and explain what to expect at a dismissal hearing.

Domestic Violence Laws in Tennessee

Under Tennessee criminal law, domestic violence refers to a physical attack or threatened attack against a domestic partner or family member.

It can include charges like:

  • Simple assault
  • Aggravated assault
  • Violation of a protective order
  • Stalking
  • Harassment
  • Endangerment

Many domestic violence charges like aggravated assault are classified as serious felonies, punishable by years in prison. Even misdemeanor convictions can result in jail time. A domestic violence conviction also commonly involves a period of probation, fines, counseling requirements, and a permanent criminal record.

It’s important to remember that the government prosecutes these cases, not the alleged victim. Even if your partner or family member wants to drop the charges, the prosecutor may still pursue the case. Their decision will come down to the sufficiency of the evidence.

This makes it critical to have an experienced domestic violence defense attorney make a compelling legal argument as to why your charges should be dismissed. Let’s examine some of the most effective strategies.

Negotiating with the Prosecutor

One of the best opportunities for getting domestic violence charges dropped occurs through negotiations with the prosecutor’s office. An experienced criminal defense attorney will confer with the prosecutor and highlight any weaknesses in their case.

For instance, if the alleged victim plans to recant their testimony, this undercuts the entire basis of the charges. If there are credibility concerns with the witnesses, pointing this out may lead the prosecution to doubt their chances at trial.

In many cases, this can result in the prosecutor agreeing to:

  • Reduce the charges to a lesser offense as part of a plea deal
  • Agree to a diversion program where charges are dismissed upon completion
  • Decline to prosecute the case further due to lack of evidence

Prosecutors often prefer negotiation over the uncertainty of trial. If you have an experienced lawyer and make a compelling legal and ethical argument, many cases can be resolved through this strategy.

Challenging the Strength of the Evidence

If the prosecutor opts to pursue the charges, the next strategy is attacking the adequacy of the evidence. Domestic violence cases often depend heavily on testimony from the alleged victim. If this person plans to recant or not cooperate at trial, it severely weakens the case.

Other strategies for challenging the evidence include:

  • Questioning the credibility of witnesses – If witnesses give inconsistent accounts or have motive to fabricate accusations, point this out as reason for dismissal.
  • Arguing self-defense – If evidence shows you acted in self-defense against violence initiated by the alleged victim, request dismissal on these grounds.
  • Disputing intent – Without evidence of criminal intent, the charges lack a key element necessary for conviction.
  • Alleging false accusations – Seek dismissal if evidence clearly shows the alleged victim falsely accused you of domestic violence.

The prosecution has the burden of proving all elements of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. If your attorney can show the evidence is lacking, you have strong grounds for dismissal.

Using Affirmative Defenses

Certain affirmative defenses, when supported by evidence, may also result in domestic violence charges getting dismissed.

Common affirmative defenses in these cases include:

  • Self-defense – You used appropriate force to defend yourself against violence initiated by the alleged victim.
  • No criminal intent – You did not intend to harm or threaten the alleged victim. For instance, an accidental injury during an argument.
  • False allegations – The alleged victim fabricated the accusations maliciously.

To succeed with an affirmative defense, your attorney will need to introduce convincing evidence in support. If successful, Tennessee law requires the dismissal of the charges.

Tips for Building the Strongest Possible Defense Case

While your attorney argues for dismissal, you play a key role in building a compelling defense case. Important steps include:

  1. Act quickly – Immediately hiring an attorney gives you the best chance to preserve evidence and witness memories.
  2. Assist your lawyer – Be proactive in helping collect evidence, locate witnesses, provide background information, and anything else your attorney requests.
  3. Gather character references – Written statements from people vouching for your peaceful character help undermine accusations.
  4. Reconstruct the timeline – Work with counsel to memorialize a precise account of the relevant events. Identify exculpatory facts.
  5. Meet all court requirements – Ensure you attend all hearings, complete any mandatory assessments, and comply with the court’s orders.

With an organized, methodical approach, your attorney can piece together a compelling argument for dismissal.

What to Expect at a Dismissal Hearing

If your attorney files a motion to dismiss the charges, the judge will hold a hearing to evaluate the request. Both sides will present arguments, and the judge will make a determination about whether dismissal is appropriate based on the evidence.

During the hearing, your attorney may argue for dismissal based on:

  • Holes in the prosecution’s case
  • Affirmative defenses
  • Procedural errors by police or prosecutors
  • Unconstitutional actions by the state

The burden is on the prosecutor at this stage. If they cannot convince the judge the state can meet the high standard of proof for a criminal conviction, the case should be dismissed.

Partner with a Skilled Domestic Violence Attorney

The stigma surrounding domestic violence accusations means many people feel overwhelmed and helpless once charged. But an experienced domestic violence defense attorney knows how to systematically dismantle the prosecution’s case. With an in-depth understanding of Tennessee law and a client-focused approach, domestic violence charges can often successfully get dismissed.

If you are facing allegations of domestic violence, the skilled defense lawyers at The Law Office of Sam Byrd are here to help. Call us today for a case evaluation. During this strategy session, we will:

  • Review the details of your specific case
  • Explain your legal options
  • Outline how we can build a powerful defense on your behalf

Don’t leave your future up to chance. Contact our office now to get started fighting these allegations and work towards getting your domestic violence charges dismissed.

Author Bio

Sam Byrd is the owner and managing attorney at The Law Office of Sam Byrd. With hands-on experience in divorce, family law, criminal law, and DUI/DWI cases, Sam has been serving clients in Tennessee since 2012. He graduated with a J.D. from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in 2012 and holds a B.S. in Legal Studies from the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga, where he graduated summa cum laude in 2009.

He began his legal career as a paralegal, working under his father’s guidance. Prior to that, Sam served in the United States Marine Corps as a member of the 2/7 Weapons Company stationed at 29 Palms, California.

Sam has received several accolades for his work, including being recognized as a Rising Star in Divorce & Family Law by Tennessee SuperLawyers in 2020, 2019, and 2018. He is also a member of The National Trial Lawyers’ Top 40 under 40, an exclusive professional organization for top trial lawyers under the age of 40. Sam’s commitment to continuous learning and improvement is demonstrated by his certifications in Trial Skills from the National College of DUI Defense in 2019 and 2018.

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