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As the victim in a Massachusetts domestic assault and battery case, can I have the charges dropped?

Massachusetts Assault and Battery

Massachusetts Domestic Assault and Battery

Q: As the victim in a Massachusetts domestic assault and battery case, can I have the charges dropped?

A: If you were the alleged victim of an assault and battery, and criminal charges were brought against someone with whom you have (or had) a special relationship*, then it is no longer your decision whether or not to dismiss the charges.  As the victim in a domestic assault and battery case, you are not filing the criminal charges; that is in the hands of the District Attorney's Office.  You can ask the District Attorney to drop the charges against the defendant, but ultimately it is the prosecutor's decision.  Due to the serious nature of domestic abuse, prosecutors usually will not drop the charges against a defendant solely at the request of the alleged victim.  If on the day of trial the alleged victim is unavailable or unwilling to testify, and without that testimony the prosecutor lacks sufficient evidence to take the case to trial, the case will be dismissed at that time.  The prosecution may still proceed to trial without the alleged victim's testimony if there is other evidence that the abuse occurred, such as bruising or other manifestations of physical abuse, testimony of third party witnesses, or incriminating statements made by the defendant.

* Only the following specific relationships between defendant and victim render the case a domestic assault or domestic assault and battery in Massachusetts:

Persons who:

(a) are or were married to one another;

(b) are or were residing together in the same household;

(c) are or were related by blood or marriage;

(d) having a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; or

(e) are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship.
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