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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Myself and my ex-partner were involved in a domestic situation

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Myself and my ex-partner were involved in a domestic situation where I called the police he was arrested and charged with common assault and property damage (my phone) and placed on police bail. I would like for the case not to go forward as he is a gentle person and the situation got out of hand and I was partly to blame. We are both at university and I would hate for this to affect his career prospects please can you help and advise me on what to do as I wish to retract my statement. However the police are being obstructive. I was not aware of the implications.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Have you done this before ? Either in this relationship or in others?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

In no other relationship. However there has been a prior incident with this same partner.

Ok. That will be the issue. How long ago was that and what happened?
Are these two incidents literally the only times you have ever called the police to a personal dispute?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No I have had a trouble childhood so I have called them in relation to that and only that. Nearly a year ago I called the police with regards ***** ***** similar incident.

Ok. Thats the issue. They will not let you drop this.
What did you allege on this occasion?
Also, has he made a no comment interview?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

He has made a no comment interview. He pushed me several times and smashed my phone.

Have they seized the phone?
I suppose you didn't have injuries that they will have seen?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No they have not. However the officer that took the initial statement took a picture on her mobile phone. She said that the Crown Prosecution Service would not let her put that forward as evidence. I did not have any injuries.

I don't agree with that at all. That is a case of an officer just plain not understanding the rules of evidence. Its rare that they produce actual exhibits but rely on photographs unless, of course, its a dangerous dogs case in which case they use it as an excuse to seize the dog and retain it forever and a day.
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. They are not going to do that here. Realistically, you have just plain summonsed the police to personal disputes too often to make that likely.
If they do summons then you will have to think about what you want to do. 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. Of course, you are known to them but not sufficiently. I have only ever seen that happen in rarest of circumstances and I am a fairly committed criminal hack.
In any event, there is a bit of a debate over whether or not attending court and refusing to give evidence amounts to a contempt. I prosecute fairly regularly and if a witness just refuses to go into the witness box I have no means of forcing them to do so. There is an offence under the Magistrates Court Act that carries up to one month custody for refusing to give evidence. I have only ever seen that used once and that case involved a women who had literally called the police thousands of times to domestic squabbles. Even then they didn't actually prosecute her. She just got into the witness box and told the Magistrates they were all behaving disgracefully and she was going to complain and they let her go and the Crown threw their hand in.
Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So I can not retract my statement? But I can refuse to go to court which will result in me having a legal issue? Currently I do have any family support and neither does he so at the time to prevent a further attack I called the police. But now everything has settled I regret that as the implications are to enormous. If I were to go to a solicitor what help could they provide? If the case does go ahead and I refuse to provide any further contributions-what is the likely outcome?

Yes, I do understand. Probably you have learnt your lesson now. It is never a good idea to call the police to a personal dispute especially not one of this nature. I don't think there are many of us that haven't had rows of this kind. However, that doesn't help now.
A solicitor can provide no help at all. You have summonsed the police to a domestic row and so they will pursue it.
If they summons you then they will put huge pressure on you. They will probably get victim support to instruct one of these domestic violence enablers to phone and hassle you and generally make your life difficult. Ultimately though if you just refuse there is not much that can be done.
The trouble with summonsing is that it really only deters the law abiding. Young ladies who have a long standing background of doing this know the score perfectly well and know how far the crown will go and always manage to dance rings around us.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Okay I have messed up big time. A solicitor did say they would help me with a retraction statement. Are you saying that would not help?

Yes, well, we all make mistakes. You just have to put it right and learn from it. Mistakes are rarely the end of the world.
A retraction statement can be made either to a solicitor or the police. It's not likely to help. Unless you are going to say that what you said was untrue, retracting will not bring an end to the case. If all you can say is that you don't want to support a prosecution then that is not evidence. You can tell them that. They probably are expecting it anyway. All that will do is put them on notice that they need a summons. I would never normally suggest telling the Crown that you are reluctant as it just fixes them with notice that they need to act. Here, they probably know anyway though.
If you do say that what you said was untrue then that is perverting the course of justice and people go to prison for that.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

What is likely to be the outcome of the case and is there anything at all I can do?

Well, its really as I've said. If you refuse to engage there is not much that can be done.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So the case will be dropped?

It is not quite that simple but in the end if they just cannot get you to give evidence they will have no option.
They might try to rely on your 999 call res gestae but I don't know why because it is never enough for a conviction and anyway its not a proper hearsay application. You are not staying away out of fear. You just aren't interested in the prosecution.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


No problem and all the best.
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