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My Wife Does Not Want to Press Charges – Why Was I Arrested?

 Posted on July 10, 2024 in Domestic Battery

Lake County, IL domestic violence defense attorneyDomestic violence is a persistent issue across the United States, with the CDC estimating that more than a third of all adult women and men (36 percent and 34 percent, respectively) have been harmed by an intimate partner during their lifetime. In Illinois, those numbers are even higher for women (42 percent) but lower for men (26 percent). Arguments frequently happen between married couples and between others who reside in the same home.

Although domestic violence has been an issue for decades, studies show that since the 2020 pandemic lockdown, incidences of domestic violence have increased by more than eight percent. Most experts believe that unemployment, lack of affordable childcare, and increased financial insecurity are at the core of this increase. Unfortunately, arguments between those living in the same home can erupt when these stresses build up.  

While some situations benefit from an arrest, others can be made much worse, both financially and emotionally, when a spouse is arrested after what was little more than an argument. A husband or wife arguing with their spouse might be temporarily happy to see the police just so the argument will end. That same husband or wife may be stunned to discover that having the charges dropped is not as easy as simply telling the officer they do not want to press charges.

Those who find themselves in this type of situation should speak to a knowledgeable Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney who has extensive experience defending those charged with domestic violence or domestic battery. Once you ask for a lawyer, the police are no longer allowed to continue questioning you, and, in fact, the less you say from the time the police arrive, the better. Your words may be taken out of context and later used by the prosecutor to prove your guilt.

What is the Illinois Domestic Violence Act?

Under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act 750 ILCS 60, domestic violence or abuse is defined as "physical abuse, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation" against a partner or family member. "Family member" includes the following people:

  • Spouses, former spouses, or those with a dating or engagement relationship (current or former)

  • Those who have a child in common

  • Parents

  • Children and stepchildren

  • Anyone related by blood or by a current or prior marriage

  • Those who formerly shared a home

  • Persons with disabilities and their caregivers

What If My Spouse or Other Family Member Does Not Want to Press Charges?

A common misconception is that domestic violence charges will go away if the accuser decides not to press charges. The reality is very different. In Illinois, the decision to drop charges always lies with the prosecutor, not the accuser. Even when the accuser refuses to cooperate, the case can still go to trial. One might assume there is no case without testimony from the accuser. While this testimony is important, the prosecutor can use other types of evidence to make a case.

Domestic violence is regarded as a crime against the state as well as a crime against an individual. So, even when the accuser refuses to testify, prosecutors can and often do proceed with domestic violence cases without the accuser’s cooperation. Evidence like police reports, witness statements, property damage, photographs of the accuser’s injuries, and testimony from police officers can move the case forward without cooperation from the accuser. Prosecutors often handle cases with uncooperative accusers and will shift their tactics accordingly.

Defenses Against Charges of Domestic Abuse

While a case of domestic abuse can go forward without the cooperation of the accuser, the lack of cooperation can have a dramatic impact on the strength of the case. The strategy of the defendant’s attorney will change when the accuser wants the charges dropped. Some potential defenses include:

  • Self-defense

  • Lack of evidence

  • False accusations by the accuser

  • No credible witnesses

  • Lack of intent or unintentional injury

Free Consultation with a Lake County, IL Domestic Abuse Lawyer

Domestic abuse charges are always serious and can have serious consequences. If the arrest was in response to an argument that got out of control between spouses, having a Skokie, IL criminal defense attorney protecting your rights is essential. You immediately have an important advantage when you have an experienced defense attorney who previously served as a prosecutor at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Call The Law Offices of Matthew R. Gebhardt, P.C. at 847-239-4703 to make an appointment for your free consultation.

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