Domestic violence is a serious topic. While many people have an idea about what qualifies as domestic violence, many victims do not realize that they suffer domestic violence because it does not match their idea of domestic violence. In reality, domestic takes many different forms, from threats to actions.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Office on Violence Against Women defines domestic violence as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.” The DOJ states that domestic violence can be economic, emotional, physical, psychological, sexual, or technological and can consist of actions or threats.
The most commonly thought of example of domestic violence is physical violence, also sometimes called domestic battery. While domestic battery is the primary example, many different types of domestic violence are recognized by law, and all of them are illegal.
Domestic violence can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on several factors. In most states, a first-time offense of domestic violence is classified as a misdemeanor. However, if the individual was pregnant, a weapon was used, or there have been multiple arrests or convictions for domestic violence, the charges can be escalated to a felony.
Whether or not domestic violence charges are dropped depends on the victim of the alleged violence. The victim themselves does not actually control when charges can be dropped. If they choose to press charges, the case is taken by the State. Once charges are brought, the most a victim can do is refuse to testify.
While refusal to testify may make the charges difficult to prove, they are not exculpatory in themselves. Instead, the prosecution could call officers who came to the scene, material witnesses, and may even compel the victim to testify if they already gave a deposition.