DWI Attorneys Blog

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Some Louisiana District Attorney Offices Levy Dismissal Fees for Domestic Violence Victims

How does requiring payment to drop domestic violence charges affect those involved?

In three parishes of Louisiana, St. John the Baptist, East Baton Rouge, and Bossier, victims alleging domestic abuse and then reneging on their claims, are charged a nonrefundable fee for the second action. It is well-known that victims of domestic violence frequently become frightened about the possible consequences of reporting their abuse and subsequently retract it, though this is not always the case. Victims often give a variety of excuses for backing down, including declaring that the injuries suffered were inflicted accidentally, or that the victim did something to provoke the attack. In some cases, of course, the accusations were false to begin with and the retraction is justified.

When alleged victims are charged fees (typically $100) for taking back their accusations, the situation raises a good many eyebrows. Although the parishes mentioned are the only ones on record as charging a "dismissal fee," it is believed that other parishes may quietly engage in the same practice. Recently, however, E. Pete Adams, the executive director of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association stated that he was unaware of the practice.

Legal scholars and advocates for victims, especially poor victims,  of domestic violence,  protest the practice  of charging such fees as dangerous. They believe that any added future expenditure attached to reportage of domestic abuse drives the crimes even further underground, resulting in more violent attacks, more injuries, and even more murders. Charging domestic abuse victims for protecting themselves is, according to this point of view, immoral and counterproductive, especially because it creates an unfair hurdle for abuse victims who are low on the socioeconomic scale. In addition, because the retractions are often fodder for the defense, victims may be forced to pay for evidence that will later be used against them when they may be accused of filing a false police report.

Those who defend the practice of charging a fee state that while the fee they charge is not covered legally by any statute, it is also not prohibited by any state law. In addition, they assert that only half of such domestic abuse complaints actually result in dropped prosecutions. More often, they result in lesser charges.  They further note that, before abuse charges are dropped, a lengthy review process must be undergone, often requiring an intensive background check and a period of counseling for the perpetrator.

If you have been charged, or are entangled in,  a domestic violence case in Southern Louisiana, please do not hesitate to call the offices of Joe Larré Law Firm where a highly qualified attorney is available to help. Serving clients throughout Southern Louisiana, we can be reached at 504.520.8989 or 985.231.7777.

The Joe Larré Law Firm LLC specializes in DWI/DUI Defense, Car Accident Personal Injury, and Criminal defense, assisting clients in Jefferson Parish, Lafourche Parish, St Charles Parish, St Tammany Parish, Plaquemines Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Orleans Parish, East Baton Rouge Parish, Tangipahoa parish, and all other Southern Louisiana Parishes.

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