QUESTION:

Can I recant my original statement on a domestic violence case without being charged of anything?

My boyfriend and I were having an argument in his car. I was scared, and I told him to stop the vehicle but he didn’t want too. I told him either he was going to stop the car or I was going to jump out of the car, he did not listen to me. My adrenalin and fear got to me and I jumped off the vehicle. This happened close to my school since it was afterschool. I went unconscious when I jumped off. I did not fracture anything but I had lots of scrapes and half my face was swollen. While I was at the hospital, an official walked in an asked me what happened. I do not recall him entering in the room and asking me anything, but he recorded me. I want to make a new statement because I don’t feel that anything that I said was right. I was not their I was not fully conscious, therefore I want to make a new statement. My boyfriend is getting charged for domestic violence now. He is a striker, and I believe this will highly influence this case too. I want to know if theirs anything I can do to help. He never hit me nor was I feeling at the moment physically threaten. I was the on who jumped out on my own.

ANSWER:

I’m very sorry to hear about those unfortunate events in your life and I hope things have been improving for you.

In response to your question: You can recant your statement (to a certain extent) but I suggest coordinating with your boyfriend’s attorney before approaching the District Attorney’s “Victim Witness Advocates” to do so. Sometimes it is advantageous to make the DA aware of a revised statement before trial, and sometimes it is not.

I think you have correctly assessed the situation – your boyfriend’s prior strike(s) make this an extremely serious matter. It is possible that the charging deputy district attorney could read the police report and file multiple felony charges. It is not uncommon for domestic disputes that begin in moving vehicles to result in kidnapping charges.

It is important that you respect any protective orders that may be in place. If there is a “no-contact order,” and you, for instance, start a text message exchange with your boyfriend – he can be charged with a violation of Penal Code Section 273.6. It would not matter who sent the first text as long as he replied. However in most cases, your boyfriend’s attorney would be able to serve as an intermediary between you two, even if there is a “no-contact through third parties clause.” And that same attorney could also assist with lessening a “no-contact order” into a “no harm/harassment order” while criminal proceedings are still active, if you so desire.

In my experience in the Santa Maria Courthouse, the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office tends to pursue DV cases more aggressively than many other counties – even other counties with vertical prosecution of domestic violence cases and “no drop” polices. For example, the Los Angeles County DA has similar policies, but there is an interesting dynamic between that DA and the City Attorney that can often benefit the defense. That dynamic doesn’t exist in Santa Maria because the Santa Barbara County DA prosecutes both felonies and misdemeanors.

Ultimately, you have raised an issue far too complex to be answered here. I recommend that your boyfriend consult a local criminal defense attorney with a strong background in handling domestic violence cases.

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