If you hurt or attempt to hurt someone, that’s a person crime. Sometimes the crime is unavoidable, like when someone is about to attack you, or you’re trying to defend yourself or other people from an attack. Just because self-defense, defense of others, or defense of property may apply to your case, doesn’t mean the District Attorney still won’t accuse you, or prevent you from seeing family members (in a domestic violence case).
One way to get some assaults or other person crimes dismissed is with a Civil Compromise–if the victim and the Court will agree. A Civil Compromise is a written agreement, prepared by a lawyer. In exchange for you, say, paying for damages, the injured party agrees to dismiss the case. Domestic violence cases are not eligible for a civil compromise.
Many people believe, in error, that if they contact the victim of an assault they can try to convince them not to come to court, or try to work things out on their own. This is the worst thing for you to do. It can land you into custody, result in new charges, and enhance a sentence if you’re later convicted. Because of “no contact” orders or release conditions forbidding you from having contact with the complaining witnesses or so called “victims”, you don’t want to violate the court’s order which could affect your release agreement or lead to a new charge of Witness Tampering. A lawyer should contact them instead.
Most counties have a Domestic Violence deferred sentencing program. Typically, the program addresses misdemeanor Assault or harassment and involves anger counseling. When you finish the program your case will be dismissed and you’ll likely be eligible for expungement. Many people don’t like the deferred sentencing program because it means they have to admit guilt.
What if the victim tries to get the case dismissed?
Once the case is initiated, the District Attorney is rarely interested in dismissing the case. They often think, if the victim is trying to get the case dismissed, the defendant must be forcing them to do this. They’ll often tell the victim, if you are asking us to dismiss this case because you lied, we’ll charge you with initiating a false report. Most victims back down at that point, even if it’s morally reprehensible.
What if the victim doesn’t show up for court?
While you have the right to cross examine witnesses, sometimes the case goes forward, even when the victim doesn’t show up. Fortunately there are legal challenges that can be made to prevent some of this evidence from being admitted and it may still be possible-but not always–to get the case dismissed.
Person crimes include Assault IV (felony and misd.), Assault I, II & III, Strangulation, Menacing, Reckless Endangering, Criminal Mistreatment, Assault of a Public Safety Officer, Child Neglect I & II.