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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71031
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I am the victim in a case going to court. I have retracted

Customer Question

I am the victim in a case going to court. I have retracted my statement but the CPS are going ahead with the case. I have been sent a notice to attend court stating that I am required to attend and give evidence.

I really don't want to attend. What are the consequences if I don't attend.

Thanks you
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

Could you explain your situation a bit more please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

My partner has pleaded not guilty to assault by beating. I had made statement to the police but retracted it. However the CPS have gone ahead with the case and I have been required to attend a magistrates court. I really don't want to do this but do not understand the consequences for me if I fail to attend.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Yes, they will Im afraid.

Have you called the police before to a personal dispute either in this relationship or in others?

If so, when and how many times roughly please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.



I have not called the police out before.


I have since - but no statement was made.



Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
That makes no difference now Im afraid.

Is this only one extra call?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.



Can you tell me the possible consequences of my not attending court as per the original question.





Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Yes, but I will need a lot more information first.

What did you allege happened on this occasion?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I am sorry but I don't understand why - apologies


However, I advised that my partner took hold of my arms had pushed me against a wall.





Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
And what were the injuries?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Nothing really just a bruised arm

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Is the second allegation much more serious?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No - there was no allegation the second time - it was verbal abuse.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

The short answer is that you cannot just not press charges but there are things that you can do about this.

If you have made a statement then the case is no longer yours. A statement is just evidence like any other. It does not have to be in written form. Even a oral declaration to a police officer is evidence. Once evidence is obtained by the Crown you cannot withdraw it from them.

What you can do is tell the prosecution that you don't want to support any further prosecution. This is where the complication lies.

I realise that the background to this has nothing to do with you and is not of your creation but it might help you to understand the position.

Traditionally when complainants said that they were reluctant the prosecution was dropped. That has encouraged abuse from some sections of society.

Sadly, genuine victims of domestic abuse are not the only people who do call the police to domestic incidents. Some people, and it's not only women, seem to use the police as a mediation service and call them to almost every argument in the house. Also, some people make reports to the police knowing that they never intended to give evidence but just to get their partner out of the house for the evening.

This has led to understandable frustration amongst police officers. To deal with that they have turned to a policy of summonsing a reluctant witness.

They do not summons in every case. It's fair to say that sometimes people are allowed to withdraw. On the face of it, there would appear to be a justification for withdrawing here. There have been two occasions when the police have had to intervene in your arguments but, in fairness, that is nothing even remotely like the volume that the local police will have seen from some people. The injuries were not severe and this is not the worst common assault of its kind. A bit of open handed pushing is not the worst offence. The second offence was just a verbal argument. I suppose they may be displeased at having to deal with the verbal argument but that isn't really a reason to get a summons. I imagine he is not on bail with conditions not to contact you or he would have been picked up for it on that occasion.

However, there are some CPS reviewers who are militant, or just fail to consider the case properly, and will summons in circumstances where they should not.

Failing to answer a summons is a contempt of court in principle although it would not be prosecuted. I've only ever seen one prosecution for contempt arising from failing to answer a summons and that involved a person who has been a real drain on police resources.

What they might do is issue a witness warrant for your arrest to put you before the court to give evidence. There is about a 1% chance of that happening. That is preserved for people who are very well known to the constabulary.

You can always attend court and refuse to give evidence. There is an offence in that under the Magistrates Court Act and it does carry upon to 1 month in prison. I prosecute fairly regularly and I have only ever seen that used once and that case involved a person who had made literally thousands of calls to the police. Even then all she did was get into the witness box and tell us all that we were all behaving disgracefully and she wasn't giving evidence and the Magistrates let her go.

Realistically, people will threaten fire and brimstone but its very unlikely that anyway will actually take action against you. I think this policy is more about creating inconvenience for people in practical terms than actually bringing prosecutions. Also, from the volume of calls and the allegations that you have made hitherto you will not even be on the radar of the local police. In most boroughs there are usually a very small number of families that have just abdicated responsibility for sorting out their personal disputes themselves and its those people who are at risk.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.