Question re assault charges

Ok, lets say that someone is pressing charges against another person. They claim to have been physically assaulted and have presented photos to the police that supposedly show marks from the altercation. There are also two witnesses of the incident in question but they completely contradict each other (one witness is backing the story of the ‘defendant’ and the other is backing the ‘victim’).

My question is, if the only evidence is witness testimony and that testimony is rendered moot by way of conflicting accounts, what is a likely outcome for the person being charged? Let’s assume the photos are flimsy, being just one set of photos (no timeline or before and after pics) with injuries that could have easily been self-inflicted after the fact.

Basically, if one person is pressing charges against another, and the entire thing boils down to “he said/she said”, how does the case typically proceed?

(After writing this, I realize that it’s better suited for IMHO.)

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Off to IMHO (from GQ).

Police cannot make warrantless arrests for simple battery that they did not personally witness. Probably cause alone is not enough, they would need to personally observe the crime to make an arrest.
So in your situation, the victim would file charges, the defendant would be subpoenaed and a judge would hear the case in court. At that point, it would be handled like any other case.

Like always, I am sure there are differences from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. But this is my understanding of Florida statutes. There are only a few misdemeanors where police can make probable-cause arrests. Battery, without a risk of continued violence (like domestic situations), is not one of them.

I think it will come down to whom the judge finds more credible. I have a friend who was assaulted, no witnesses but clear evidence of injury, and persons overhearing the encounter with conflicting viewpoints. The judge listened to everything everyone had to say and then made a decision. The one person was pretty clearly more believable, and one story just flat out made very little sense. When questioned on the story that made little sense, things only got less clear.

In the end the judge decided the woman had been assaulted and the offender was convicted of assault. Even though no police witnessed it, and everyone said it’d be hard to get a conviction for common assault.

So, the judge will decide, very likely based on whom is more credible and which story seems more likely to be accurate, is my guess.

Good Luck!

Keep in mind the difference between Assault and Battery. Assault is simply appearing to be menacing. To express or infer an intent to do harm while able to do so constitutes Assault. (“I’m going to punch you in the nose.”) Battery requires the actual physical contact between an assailant and an intended victim, regardless of how flimsy the weapon of choice. (Throwing a parking ticket at a meter maid.)

Assaulting a police officer is a very common charge of assault and battery, since there is always a cop for a witness, who is always taking the side of the victim.

Also note that citizens do not press charges, they file complaints; only the prosecuting attorney can press charges. Based on the available evidence, they can press charges even if the victim chooses not to file a complaint.

Depends the jurisdiction. Assault in NY requires physical injury, physical contact without injury is harassment and placing someone in fear or injury or death is menacing.

Regarding the OP - lots and lots of crimes boil down to "he said".  The reason I left of the "she said" is because the issue is the same even if the accused says nothing and has no witnesses on his or her side. People only really ask about he said/she said regarding cases of some sort of physical assault , but there are many crimes that contain an element of consent or authorization- and those may also end up dependent on the victim's statements. It's about credibility - based on the victim's testimony does  the ( officer, prosecutor,judge or jury) believe that the accused struck the victim , didn't pay for the  goods he removed from the store, didn't have permission to drive the victim's car , didn't have authorization to be in the "employee only" area of the store,  etc.

Your guess is incorrect, at least in the U.S. The standard of proof for a criminal conviction is still “beyond a reasonable doubt”, NOT which side the judge finds more credible.

But you can have proof beyond a reasonable doubt based on one person’s evidence, even if there are conflicting stories, if the judge/jury finds that one witness’s evidence more credible.

Yes, credibility of witnesses is a factor, but not the sole determining one.

“I believe Party A over Party B” is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt for a criminal case.

Yes, it can be. It may be a hard standard to meet, but if the trier of fact believes A over B, that can be enough.

So can the DA choose not to press charges, irrespective of the “victim’s” wishes?

Yes , and it might happen for a variety of reasons that generally speaking fall under “the interests of justice” or “this case is unwinnable and there are better ways to use our resources.”