How Can a Victim of Domestic Violence Drop the Charges in Illinois?

How a Domestic Violence Victim
Can Drop Domestic Violence Charges in Illinois

Can a Victim Drop Domestic Violence Charges?

No.

A victim cannot directly drop Domestic Violence charges.

However, a Domestic Violence victim can indirectly cause a Domestic Violence case to be dropped by taking the following five steps.

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The 5 Steps that a Victim Can Take
to Drop Domestic Violence Charges in Illinois

Step 1: Change the Conditions of Bond to Permit Contact.

When a person is arrested for Domestic Violence, which is called “Domestic Battery” in Illinois, the defendant is taken before a judge who sets bond conditions.  The judge orders that the Defendant is to have no contact with the victim.

In all cases, by law, the judge orders that the Defendant have no contact with the victim for at least 72 hours.

“When a person is charged with a criminal offense and the victim is a family or household member ….. the restrictions shall include requirements that the defendant do the following:
(1) refrain from contact or communication with the victim for a minimum period of 72 hours following the defendant’s release; and

(2) refrain from entering or remaining at the victim’s residence for a minimum period of 72 hours following the defendant’s release.”

See the law at  725 ILCS 5/110-10(d)

In many cases, the judge goes beyond the mandatory 72 hours and orders that the Defendant have no contact with the victim until the case is resolved.  This can be a very big problem because the case often lasts several months.  For that time, the defendant and the victim, who may be husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend, may be forced to live in separate residences, which they cannot afford. Many relationships will fall apart in the time that they are forced to be apart.

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A domestic battery victim who wants to drop charges should immediately call the defendant’s lawyer to coordinate changing the bond conditions so that they can have contact.  If the defendant has not yet hired a lawyer, the victim should call a good domestic battery defense lawyer herself to get the process started.

It is important to point out that the victim has a perfect right to communicate with the Defendant’s lawyer.  

The victim and the defendant do not need to wait until the first court date, which may be as long as a month away, in order to change the bond conditions to permit contact.  A domestic battery defense lawyer will be able to appear in court almost immediately in order to ask the judge to permit contact.

Allowing contact between the victim and the defendant is important if the two of them want to continue their relationship. It is also important to be able to coordinate with the Defense if the victim wants to drop domestic battery charges against her husband or boyfriend.  

(Note: I am using the female pronoun as a shorthand for the victim; though often the defendant may be female and the victim male; or it may be a same sex relationship)

Step 2: Have the Defendant’s Domestic Battery Defense Lawyer approach the prosecutor and negotiate for a dismissal.

The Defendant’s attorney can often approach the prosecutor and negotiate to have the charges dismissed.

Things that a prosecutor may consider in deciding whether to dismiss the domestic battery case include:

  • Whether the victim is cooperating with the Defense or with the Prosecution
  • The seriousness of the injuries, the Defendant’s background, and whether there is a history of abuse.
  • The skill of the domestic battery defense lawyer in being capable of blocking other forms of evidence from coming in, at trial, if the victim does not testify.

Approximately half of all cases are dismissed at Step 2, in our experience, when the victim does not want to testify.

Our client is a cancer research scientist, from another country, who was charged with Domestic Battery. He was accused of battering his girlfriend.  A conviction for Domestic Battery would have devastated his life. His academic career would have ended and he would have been deported.

His girlfriend did not want to destroy his life and was willing to cooperate with his defense attorneys in getting the case dismissed. Our legal team spoke with the prosecutor, who then spoke with his girlfriend.  Our legal team was able to convince the prosecutor to COMPLETELY DISMISS ALL CHARGES!

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GUS KOSTOPOULOS

Gus Kostopoulos is a top-rated domestic violence defense lawyer dedicated to defending your rights. He has earned a reputation as a tough and aggressive attorney who achieves outstanding results for his clients. After graduating from law school as a Dean’s Scholar, he was selected to become an Assistant State’s Attorney. Working as a prosecutor, he was in charge of a team of lawyers and paralegals and thousands of open cases.

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Step 3: Pre-Trial dismissal.

In cases where the prosecutor is not willing to dismiss charges, the defense lawyer sets the case for trial.  On the day of trial, which is usually a few months out, the prosecutor and the defense lawyer meet to discuss the case. 

The community of Illinois domestic violence prosecutors and defense lawyers is small. A skilled domestic violence defense lawyer will know how to block hearsay evidence, how to raise self defense and how to cross examine adverse witnesses.  

If the prosecutor does not have the full cooperation of the victim at this stage, the prosecutor will often let the domestic violence victim drop the case and the prosecutor will dismiss the charges without anyone having to participate in a trial.

Greater than 95% of all cases,  are dismissed by Step 3, in our experience, when the victim wants to drop the charges.

The police were notified that a woman was at a service station requesting police for a domestic battery. Upon arrival, the police officer met with the victim, who had injuries to her face. The victim said that she had fled her apartment after our client, who was her boyfriend, had punched her on the head. The victim stated he had sat on top of her. The officer noticed the victim had two swollen eyes, the left already showing signs of bruising.  The police arrested our client.

The victim and our client later reconciled. The prosecution was not willing to dismiss the case, so our law firm set it for trial. On the day of trial, the prosecutors, knowing that they did not have the full cooperation of the victim and knowing that our office was skilled in defending domestic battery cases, COMPLETELY DISMISSED THE CASE.

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Steps 4 and 5 apply to less than 5% of cases. These are usually cases where there are serious injuries, the Defendant has an extensive criminal history, or the case is a felony.

Step 4: Pre-Trial Legal Maneuvering

The victim may contest service of the trial subpoena or may choose to assert her fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination and avoid testifying.

Our client’s wife was seeking a divorce and filed Domestic Battery charges.  Our client is an airline pilot and a domestic battery conviction would have utterly destroyed his career.

The victim told the police that there were prior domestic violence incidents that were never reported. She said that our client had hit her. The accuser had a scratch on her neck and a scratch on her right wrist that she stated was from the struggle. Digital photographs were taken by the police.

Our law firm represented the client in court.  After our office continued the case in court, and cooler heads prevailed, the victim decided not to proceed with her allegations.  The prosecutors were not willing to drop the charges and fought hard for a conviction, even going so far as attempting to hold the accuser in contempt of court if she did not go forward.

Our office litigated the domestic battery case against the husband and were involved in litigating the contempt petition against the wife. Eventually, we were able to get both, COMPLETELY DISMISSED. 

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Step 5: Testimony at Trial

It is extremely rare for a case where a victim wants to drop a domestic battery charge to proceed all the way to trial.  In this rare scenario, the victim will cooperate with the Defense attorney and testify truthfully and put in context, for the court to understand, what really happened.

Our client and her girlfriend were in a same sex relationship.  The victim alleged that that our client threw a vase at our client and injured her.  The victim and our client later reconciled and the victim cooperated with the defense.

The prosecutors were not willing to dismiss the case and threatened to hold the victim in contempt of court if she ignored their subpoena and did not appear in court.

The victim cooperated with the defense attorney, rather than with the prosecutors and, at trial, the victim gave truthful testimony that was consistent with the defendant’s innocent. The victim testified that the defendant did not aim the vase at the victim and did not intend to injure her. 

Our client was FOUND NOT GUILTY AT TRIAL.

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We Can Help Dismiss Your Domestic Violence Case

Common Misconceptions about
How a Victim can Drop a Domestic Battery Case in Illinois

There are a number of common, but false, beliefs that people have about how a victim can drop domestic battery charges.

Can a Domestic Battery victim just drop the charges?

No.

A domestic battery prosecution is a criminal case that is brought by the government, through the prosecutor’s office.  Legally, the victim is just a witness with no say in how the government proceeds.

Will the police drop the charges if the victim calls and says she is not interested?

No.

Once charges are filed, the prosecutor’s office is in charge of the case. The police are merely witnesses that may be called to testify by the prosecutor. The police could not drop the charges even if they wanted to.  And they do not want to. The police made the decision to charge the case in the first place.

Will the prosecutor drop the charges if the victim calls and says she is not interested?

No.

Prosecutor’s offices generally take a hard line in Illinois Domestic Battery cases.  They will not simply drop the charge if the victim calls and asks them to.

Can the victim drop the charge by writing a letter to the police or to the prosecutor?

No.

If the victim writes a letter to the police, the police will turn over a copy of the letter to the prosecutor.  The prosecutor will turn over a copy of the letter to the defendant’s domestic violence defense lawyer. 

By law, the prosecutor will turn over letters from the victim to the Domestic Battery defense lawyer, as exculpatory evidence.

See the law at Brady v. Maryland

The prosecutor will not just dismiss the case because the victim wrote a letter requesting it.  In fact, this may backfire because the prosecutor may use the victim’s letter at trial against the victim if she tries to testify to help the defendant. The prosecutor may argue that the victim’s recantation is insincere because she is trying to help the defendant, as is evidenced in her letter to the prosecutor.

Can the victim drop the case by not showing up to court?

No.

The most common myth is that the victim can cause the case to be dismissed by just not showing up to court. The reality is that the domestic battery case will have a few status dates whereby the judge will require the defendant, or at least the defendant’s lawyer, to appear. The victim will not be required to appear on these dates and her absence will not affect the case in any way.

For the day of trial, the prosecutor will send a subpoena to the victim compelling her appearance.

Can the victim drop the case by evading the subpoena?

Sometimes a victim who wants to drop a domestic violence charge will hide from the police officer who is trying to serve the subpoena and not answer the door. This very rarely succeeds in getting the domestic battery charge dismissed.

First off, it is illegal to evade a subpoena and a victim or witness can herself be charged for evading service of subpoena. 

It is a criminal offense, punishablable by jail, to obstruct service of a subpoena. 

See the law at 720 ILCS 5/31-3

Furthermore, if the subpoena has not been served, the prosecutor will often ask the court for a continuance of the trial date. The prosecutors can then have their own investigator attempt to serve the subpoena.  State’s Attorney’s office investigators are sworn police officers who work directly for the prosecutor’s office. They are often very dedicated and inventive in getting subpoenas served. 

The victim reported our client, her husband, to the police for Domestic Battery. The two later reconciled and the victim wanted the domestic violence charges dropped.

The state picked up the charges and refused to dismiss them. When the victim did not appear in court for trial, the State sought to have the victim held in contempt of court.

The State had its investigator go to serve the subpoena at the victim’s residence.  The victim did not answer the door. The investigator then had the victim’s neighbor knock on the door and, when the victim answered, the investigator served the victim with the subpoena.

The case had a happy ending, as our law firm was later able to get both the Domestic Battery case against our client, and the Contempt Citation against the victim, COMPLETELY DISMISSED. 

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Can the victim drop the case by ignoring the subpoena and not appearing in court?

If a victim, or any other witness, ignores a subpoena, the prosecutor can ask the judge to continue the trial and seek to hold the victim/witness in contempt of court.

If a victim ignores a subpoena, she may be held in contempt of court and punished with jail. 

“A witness who is duly subpoenaed who neglects or refuses to attend any court, under the requisitions of the subpoena, shall be proceeded against and punished for contempt of the court.”

See the law at 725 ILCS 5/115-17

Can the victim drop the case by recanting her testimony?

Every witness who testifies in a trial or other proceeding is legally obligated to tell the truth or they can be charged with perjury. 

“A person commits perjury when, under oath or affirmation, in a proceeding or in any other matter where by law the oath or affirmation is required, he or she makes a false statement, material to the issue or point in question, knowing the statement is false.”

See the law at 720 ILCS 5/32-2

While it is very unlikely for a prosecutor to file perjury charges against a victim for testifying inconsistently with the prosecutor’s understanding of the facts, there are a number of things that the prosecutor can do to undermine the victim’s recantation.

The prosecutor can call the police officers who took the victim’s statement and confront the witness with her written statement. They can also use photographs of the victim’s injuries to bolster their case.  Often, prosecutor’s will argue that the victim’s original statement to the police is the truth and her recantation is motivated by sympathy for the defendant.

A far better strategy, than mere recantation, is for the victim to cooperate with the defendant’s attorney and give truthful testimony that is consistent with innocence.

Our client and her girlfriend were in a same sex relationship.  The victim alleged that that our client threw a vase at our client and injured her.  The victim and our client later reconciled and the victim cooperated with the defense.

The prosecutors were not willing to dismiss the case and threatened to hold the victim in contempt of court if she neglected their subpoena and did not appear in court.

The victim cooperated with the defense attorney, rather than with the prosecutors and, at trial, the victim gave truthful testimony that was consistent with the defendant’s innocent. The victim testified that the defendant did not aim the vase at the victim and did not intend to injure her. 

Our client was FOUND NOT GUILTY AT TRIAL.

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In The News

Attorney Gus Kostopoulos has appeared on several popular news outlets giving insight on cases and other legal matters, including asserting Self Defense  in Domestic Violence and other cases. Not only are the attorneys at Kostopoulos Law well versed in handling criminal matters, but also in defending your reputation in the court of public opinion.

Gus Kostopoulos

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES DISMISSED!

NOT GUILTY AT TRIAL!

Young couple arguing in a cafe. Relationship problems.
Our client is a registered nurse who had been beaten by her boyfriend. The police believed the boyfriend’s story over hers and wrongly arrested our client. The boyfriend also got an Order of Protection against our client. A conviction for Domestic Battery would completely destroy our client’s nursing career. The accuser claimed that our client had punched him a number of times in the mouth with her closed fist. He said that our client was the aggressor. We aggressively cross examined the accuser at trial and were able to show that he was really the aggressor.

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CLIENT FOUND NOT GUILTY

NOT GUILTY AT TRIAL!

Angry boss yelling at his employee in office
Our client’s ex-girlfriend accused him of Domestic Battery.  She claimed that he slapped her, grabbed her, and threw her to the ground, causing her head to hit the sidewalk. She claimed that our client followed her and again grabbed her and threw her against the wall. She said he then climbed up the side of her apartment building and broke into her apartment.The police interviewed our client and he made some damaging statements. Our client had never been in trouble before and was in graduate school for a health care profession.  A conviction for Domestic Battery would utterly destroy his life. At trial, we aggressively cross examined that accuser as well as the police officer. We were able to undermine the credibility of the accuser and the police.

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CLIENT FOUND NOT GUILTY

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Craig
Craig
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If you are seriously considering an attorney for a case, I highly suggest you give Gus a call first. I literally spoke with 5+ attorneys and all recommended guys for my case. My process with Gus was swift and easy. He explained every bit of detail, and with that said, my case was dismissed. I highly suggest you give these guys a call! Won’t disappoint!
Ryan
Ryan
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If you're looking for a Top Rated Criminal Defense Lawyer in Dupage County look no further then the Kosopolous Law Group. These guys are seriously top notch. I was arrested For Misdemeanor Domestic Violence in Naperville. After interviewing 4 lawyers in the area and doing my research I felt I'd get the best outcome with Gus and his team. He provided me with the knowledge and communication I needed as I had plenty of sleepless nights worrying about my outcome. The end result..GUS was able to get my cased dismissed! Honestly do yourself a favor and save the time and effort looking for another Criminal Defense Lawyer and hire GUS!
Sonia
Sonia
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Professional, helpful and knowledgeable about the law. Gus was able to get my case dismissed in trial and is working on getting my case expunged off my record. Would definitely reccomend him. Thanks Gus!
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Welcome to My
Domestic Violence Law Practice

My name is Gus Kostopoulos. For the past 21 years, I have practiced criminal law, including Domestic Violence Defense.

I am a former prosecutor. For the past 15 years, I have been a criminal defense attorney aggressively defending people accused of crimes.

My team of three attorneys helps people in Domestic Violence, Order of Protection and Violation of Order of Protection matters.

The legal system takes Domestic Violence cases very seriously.

Fortunately, so do we.

The vast majority of our clients get their Domestic Violence cases completely dismissed.

Let me provide you with a free consultation about your case!

OUR STRATEGIES FOR WINNING
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES

1. Exhaustive Research & Preparation

We demand that the government turn over all police reports, videos, and other evidence. Our experienced trial attorneys examine all of it very carefully to look for defenses to win the case.

2. Trial Victory

Our experienced trial attorneys have collectively tried hundreds of case to verdict. We have a successful record of winning cases at trial and are respected by judges and prosecutors.  We are particularly skilled at cross examination of opposing witnesses and police officer and in asserting self defense claims.

3. Trial Dismissal

On the day of trial, our experienced trial attorneys are often able to get a complete dismissal, without having to call a single witness.  Government prosecutors often lack all of the evidence and witnesses that they would like and know that our skilled trial lawyers will prevent them from entering  testimony that contravenes evidentiary rules.  We can then convince prosecutors to dismiss the case.  Sometimes they may motion the judge for a continuance, but our trial attorneys vigorously object, causing the case to get dismissed..

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