A common bond condition and/or condition of sentence in domestic violence cases is for the Defendant to not have any contact with the complaining witness. No contact generally means no direct contact or no indirect contact. Direct contact includes activities such as face to face meetings, telephone calls, video conferencing, etc.. Indirect contact includes activities such as emails, text messages, letters, having a third party contact the complaining witness, etc. The rationale behind a no contact provision is to protect the alleged victim from harm, to allow the Defendant to seek counseling to address the behavior that lead to the alleged assault (which, of course, is contrary to the presumption of innocence that the Defendant is supposed to maintain), and to help ensure that the testimony of the complaining witness is not tainted through further contact with the Defendant or by the influence of the Defendant. It should be noted that no contact provisions are not limited to domestic violence cases, and can be a condition of bond and/or sentence for just about any criminal matter.
In many domestic violence situations, once the emotions have settled, the complaining witness no longer wishes to pursue a criminal allegation. In some situations this is due to the allegation being made to seem more serious than it really was because of the inflamed passions of the parties at the time of the police involvement. Sometimes the complaining witness lied to the police about what occurred (because of anger, child care issues, jealousy, etc.) and does not want to risk being accused of perjury or alternatively for making a false police report. In other situations the complaining witness does not want to pursue the matter because of the mentality that some people have to blame themselves for domestic violence, and/or feel a psychological need to continue their relationship with an abuser. Sometimes an alleged victim believes that the matter is a family situation that should not involve the Courts. Sometimes the complaining witness realizes that a domestic violence conviction can impact the Defendant’s career (by losing a job, losing an ability to be licensed for a job, losing ability to maintain a concealed weapons permit or ability to possess a firearm, etc.) which hurts his or her bottom line because of the financial support that the Defendant provides. For persons that are not citizens, a criminal conviction can lead to removal from the United States depending upon the circumstances, which also can influence the alleged victim’s thinking. In short, there are many reasons why the alleged victim may not wish to pursue a criminal complaint.
The attitude of most Prosecutors is that they do not care about what the alleged victim wants because the Prosecutor theoretically represents all the people of the community. Many Prosecutors feel that they have to protect victims of domestic violence and remove him victims from a cycle of violence. Also, to not pursue charges may have a negative impact on the morale of police officers who, in the Prosecutors’ minds, work solely to protect the community. County prosecutors are elected officials and are fearful that someone who they chose not to prosecute could end up committing a more serious (and newsworthy) crime against their spouse or significant other. City and Local Prosecutors are often hired by the city (with the Court having influence on the hiring process) and do not want to do anything that could lead to their contract not being renewed or otherwise losing their jobs. Many Judges are far from neutral and lean towards the Prosecution in their rationales and judgment. Although rare and not done by most Prosecutors and/or Courts, it is not unheard of for some Prosecutors and/or some Courts to use no contact provisions coercively to encourage the criminal case to resolve by means of a plea and not through trial.