Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Can the Victim Drop Charges Against Me in an Assault and Battery Case?

If you have committed assault and battery against someone in Massachusetts, you might be wondering whether they can drop charges against you. This is an especially common question among family members who may be willing to “forgive and forget.” Sometimes, situations get out of control, and victims are willing to give the defendants a second chance. But is it really up to the victim to drop charges? Can the state continue to press charges even though the family prefers to handle this issue behind closed doors? Let’s find out. 

It is Not Up to the Victim

The first thing you need to know is that in Masssachusetts, it is not up to the victim whether or not charges are dropped. That authority rests entirely with prosecutors and judges, and the state will carry out the legal penalties regardless of what the victim says or wants. As soon as an alleged victim makes that 9-1-1 call to the police and reports violence in the household, there is no turning back. Police are obliged to take the alleged perpetrator into custody due to a mandatory arrest policy. Not only that, but there is a mandatory “cooling-off period” that alleged abusers must spend behind bars. In Massachusetts, this period is no less than six hours. From that point, bail can be posted and the alleged perpetrator can be released. 

Why is this the case? Ultimately, the government is trying to do the right thing. In their eyes, the victim may be attempting to drop charges due to a sense of intimidation. They may think that if the family member gets incarcerated, they will harbor a deep sense of contempt and take revenge upon release. In other words, the government is trying to protect potential victims from further violence – whether they actually want that protection or not. 

The Victim Can Still Play a Role in Your Defense

Regardless of this, the victim can still play a role in your defense by invoking the Fifth Amendment. Whether they’re a partner or a spouse, they can choose not to testify against you. If there is no other evidence and it’s simply a case of “he said, she said,” the court may be forced to drop the case due to insufficient evidence. If there is other evidence aside from the victim’s testimony, you need to explore other defense strategies with a qualified attorney. 

Where Can I Find a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney in Massachusetts?

If you have been searching the Massachusetts area for a qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney, look no further than Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law. Over the years, we have helped numerous defendants approach their charges confidently and efficiently – including those accused of assault and battery against family members. We know that this situation can be incredibly concerning – especially when even the victim wants to minimize potential penalties. While dropping charges may not always be an option, you can still defend yourself in an effective manner. Book your consultation today to get started.