What happens when a couple’s night of drinking turns ugly? Ever known an ugly, mean drunk? They exist, believe me. To see what happens when we bring two such people together, take a look at the equations below:
[alcohol] + [arguing] + [anger] = [arrest]
Or, how about this equally valid equation:
[early morning hours] + [yelling and screaming] = [neighbors calling police] = [arrest]
As our community caretakers, the police are in an awful position, as they can’t leave the drunk couple together, for fear of escalating troubles. Most police departments have a policy of taking someone–anyone–to jail just to separate and cool off the situation. Thus, the police find a reason to arrest either the man, or the woman, and make a domestic violence battery case out of the situation.
However, once the tempers calm down, and the alcohol metabolizes, some folks regret their drunken sworn statements to police.
In the midst of an often emotional, alcohol soaked domestic dispute, cops fight hard to get a “sworn” statement from an alleged victim of domestic violence battery. Once clearheaded, can the sober witness now tell the truth of the evening’s events without fear of perjury or an arrest for filing a false police report? If they do, this is what we call “recantation”.
When an alleged victim of domestic violence decides to “recant”, this can spell trouble for the prosecution. Why? Because the prosecution may be barred from calling the alleged victim as a witness. A recantation may limit the alleged victim to testifying only about the “new story”. Prosecutors are not permitted to call the alleged victim merely to impeach her about what she initially told the police when they know the story has changed. But, the prosecution will attempt to admit the prior statement as a “past recollection recorded”. Such a move is often considered abusive where the state has been put on notice that their victim has recanted (and, that’s why it’s so important for you criminal defense attorneys out there to file a Motion in Limine & Motion to Exclude the victim as a witness, etc. etc.).