As public consciousness has been raised about the impact of domestic violence, concerned neighbors who hear what could be a potential domestic dispute may decide to alert police. But a neighbor may not always be right; a couple can have a verbal argument without it rising to the level of a criminal offense. But when police arrive, they may decide to file charges regardless, requiring the accused to mount a defense against a crime that did not take place.
This appears to be the fact pattern in a domestic violence case leveled against a Virginia Beach councilman. One evening, he and his wife got into an argument in their driveway. According to the man's attorney, the wife took a swing at her husband, but fell down after he deflected the blow. A neighbor overheard the argument and called police, who took the councilman into custody.
In a recent court hearing, the wife corroborated this sequence of events and stated that her husband did not assault her during the dispute. The hearing was called at the defense attorney's request, and at the hearing the attorney argued that the judge should revoke the protective order issued in the case. After taking the wife's testimony into account, the judge did revoke the order, allowing the councilman to return to his home.
That is not the end of the case, however. The criminal charges still stand against the councilman, although the defense attorney stated that he expected the case to be dismissed. A prosecutor may decide to dismiss a case for a number of reasons, such as a lack of sufficient evidence or because the facts do not support the conclusion that a crime took place.
Source: The Virginian-Pilot, "Va. Beach councilman's wife: He did not assault me," Aaron Applegate, Oct. 8, 2012
• Dismissal is not possible in every case, but in certain cases, the defense will attempt to persuade the prosecution that grounds for dismissal exist. There is more information on the rights and options available in a domestic case at our Virginia Beach domestic violence page.