Kingsport, TN asked in Domestic Violence and Criminal Law for Virginia

Q: Can I refuse to testify as a domestic violence victim against my boyfriend?

I filled out a criminal complaint against my partner after an argument that got physical. It resulted in multiple charges being filed, including two felonies. I already have a PFA prohibiting acts of abuse and I really don’t wish to cooperate due to a myriad of reasons. We’ve since reconciled, my emotions were high and I was also pressured to file the report, I have no transportation to the hearings and cannot financially afford to miss work for them, and I have several mental health/physical health conditions that are being impacted by the stress of this all. Do I have the option to refuse to cooperate with the Commonwealth’s Attorney or refuse to testify?

2 Lawyer Answers
Susan Fremit
Susan Fremit
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Spotsylvania , VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: Since you started the legal process by contacting the police and giving a statement, you will be required to be available to testify at any trial. If you are subpoenaed and do not show up to testify at court, the prosecutor can ask the judge to issue a warrant for your arrest. If you refuse to testify the prosecutor can look into whether you filed a false report and have you charged. You would be wiser to phone victim services at the county commonwealth's office and advise that you do not want to proceed with the charges.

Kelly L. Vasta agrees with this answer

Kelly L. Vasta
Kelly L. Vasta
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Norfolk, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: Once you call law enforcement and the process is started for criminal charges against an abuser, you unfortuantely do not have the "right" to drop the charges. The only entity that has the power to do so is the Commonwealth Attorney's office who is prosecuting the case. They will likely issue you a subpoena to appear in court and failure to adhere to this subpoena could result negatively against you in a contempt of court charge. I would suggest contacting either the victim witness advocate or the prosector for your case and explain your situation.

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