As a Constitutional and Criminal Defense Attorney in Dallas, I am frequently asked by clients and witnesses about Affidavits of Non-Prosecution in cases involving an accusation of family violence.

The questions from clients or potential clients often go along the lines of: “The person who accused me of this wants the charges dropped, can’t we get an affidavit so that the case will be dismissed?”

The questions from the victims will often go along the lines of: “I don’t want to see this person with a criminal record, I just want the case dismissed.”

In both situations, people involved oft think that this is a simple and easy process, that the two have sorted out their problems, and that the case will be dismissed just because the complainant, accuser, or victim of a family violence assault wants that to happen.

Sometimes, these conversations with me begin after an affidavit of non-prosecution has already been signed, or the complainant in the case tells the prosecutor or victims advocate involved they don’t want to see the Defendant prosecuted or be called as a witness in the case.

The problem with the expectation that the case will be dismissed just because the complainant or victim wants it to happen, is that in Dallas County, and most everywhere else, the prosecutor will take this affidavit as only the tiniest of setbacks in pursuing prosecuting the Defendant who has been accused of family violence.

Prosecutors who deal with many family violence cases [] are aware that there is often a cycle of abuse [] in cases where the complainant or victim wants the charges dropped or the case dismissed. Consequently, prosecutors are very cautious about dismissing a family violence case, and generally will not do so unless they feel like they have to.


Typical Affidavits of Non-Prosecution Do Not Work

District Attorneys offices will often have form affidavits available to complainants or victims of family violence cases. Usually they include some standard language including:

“I am the complaining witness and alleged victim in this case and it is my wish that all charges in relation to this matter be dismissed, and there be no further action taken and I do not intend to pursue the prosecution of [the Defendant].”

These form affidavits are not very useful for the defense. These affidavits do not necessarily contradict facts which would make a defendant guilty of family violence. Sometimes, it doesn’t even help get a lighter punishment, and can backfire spectacularly. []

The prosecutor may even use an expert’s testimony to describe how affidavits of non-prosecution are typical even in the most serious cases.


When Can an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution Help My Defense?

An Affidavit of Non-Prosecution is going to be an appropriate piece of evidence only limited circumstances. First, is if there has been a misunderstanding or a changed story. If the affidavit can clearly address an issue of fact that would make the offense a lesser charge or even support the Defendant’s innocence, then this affidavit will be very useful.  Second, if the complainant or victim clarifies the situation in more detail, such as providing evidence that the assault was self-defense, a mutual fight, or in very limited circumstance, a freak accident, then that would also be very useful for the defense.


It is Always a Good Idea to Understand Every Side

Even if an affidavit of non-prosecution is not the best idea in all cases, it is important that your attorney contact all of the witnesses in the case and get their side of the story. That way, your attorney will best be able to make all of the best choices in preparing your defense or the defense of a loved one.

If you need experienced guidance about these affidavits, if you or someone close has been charged with a family violence offense like assault family violence, or if you are a victim who desires representation in a case where you may be called as a witness, contact me to set-up a free strategy session.