DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE BAY AREA – ROLE OF COMPLAINING WITNESS

Rabin Nabizadeh
February 18, 2017

Arrested for Domestic Violence in the Bay Area?

One of the most common questions Domestic Violence arrests provoke is what is the role of the complaining witness in deciding to or influencing charging and prosecution.

DOES VICTIM HAVE TO TESTIFY?

It is well known that a victim of domestic violence does not choose whether charges are brought against his or her significant other. The questions of whether a domestic violence victim have to testify in a domestic violence trial depends on several factors.

You can be sure that the District Attorney will subpoena the victim to appear on the day of trial.

WHAT HAPPENS IF WITNESS DOES NOT SHOW UP?

Any individual that does not respond to a subpoena properly served, will be subject to a bench warrant and an Order to show cause as to why that witness did not appear in court. This applies to domestic violence victims. If no good cause is shown for non-appearance, the court will hold the witness in contempt of court.

CAN I SHOW UP AND NOT TESTIFY?

If the witness appears in court but refuses to testify, California Civil Code section 1219(b) limits the penalties the court can impose on the person. That is, a court can not imprison a victim of domestic violence for contempt of court and can refer the that person to a domestic violence counselor.

IF I REFUSE TO TESTIFY, WILL THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY DISMISS THE CHARGES?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is…. IT DEPENDS. The District Attorney will have to consider the strength of the evidence given the refusal to testify. Factors such as injuries (and photographs of those injuries), witnesses, prior testimony/statement of Complaining witness and defendant’s statement will be evaluated. It may be that the prior statement of the victim of Domestic violence is admissible as an exception to the hearsay rule.

If you or your significant other have been arrested or charged with Domestic Violence, contact Summit Defense Domestic Violence Lawyer for a free consultation. (800) 929-0451

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