Victims Rights in Domestic Violence Offences – When Can the Police withdraw Charges?

Domestic violence has become a serious and widespread issue in Australia. Because of this, having  Domestic Violence charges or an AVO withdrawn is not easy and very few are withdrawn by NSW Police.

Once it is alleged that an act of domestic violence has been committed, and a complaint is made to the Police, it is Police procedure to lay charge/s upon the accused person/s.

While Police can withdraw charges, it rarely occurs as they are determined for alleged domestic violence offenders to be held accountable for their actions. This means that almost all charges are proceeded with. Generally Police will not withdraw a domestic violence charge merely because the alleged victim does not want the offender to be charged.

For Police to consider withdrawing a charge an application should be made in writing to the Police Local Area Command.

If a victim wishes to withdraw their complaint, NSW police have a policy that requires them to proceed with the charges. Charges may be laid against offenders even if the victim is reluctant to give evidence. The decision to prosecute rest with the Police in accordance to their internal policies.

There are laws that restrict the prosecution’s ability to force family members to give evidence. Under section 18 of the Evidence Act (NSW) 1995, a witness may object to giving evidence, if:

  • They are a witness for the prosecution, and
  • The accused person is their spouse, de facto partner, child or parent, and
  • There is likely to be harm caused to their relationship with the defendant.

This section however, does not apply to all situations and the court can force a person to give evidence.

If a victim in a domestic violence case does not appear at court a number of things may occur, including:

  • The charges are dismissed
  • The case is adjourned and a warrant for the arrest of the victim is issued
  • The case is adjourned to see if the police can get the victim to court

For further information and legal advice, Call Us now on 02 9708 6832 and book an initial consultation with one of our criminal lawyers.




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