Can a defendant be charged guilty in a bench trial if the alleged victim is stating that it did not happen?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can a defendant be charged guilty in a bench trial if the alleged victim is stating that it did not happen?

A defendant has a bench trial for a level a misdemeanor domestic battery. However, the victim is stating that she lied and it never happened and has even written this in a statement for the judge. Is there any way the defendant could still be found guilty at a bench trial? The defendant is on parole and incarcerated with a parole hold so he does not want to plead guilty to something that he didn’t do and risk serving the rest of his parole. The defendant has no violent background. What should we expect at a bench trial for domestic battery? No witnesses but the alleged victim who has stated she lied about it.

Asked on May 21, 2019 under Criminal Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

He can be convicted if:
1) There was physical evidence of the attack--e.g. a black eye from a punch; injuries treated by a doctor or ER; etc.
2) It appears to the court (i.e. to the judge) that based on her demeanor and answers to questions when when testifying, that the victim is likely lying in court--perhaps out of love, perhaps because she is afraid to tell the truth, etc.--and that her earlier statements that she was assaulted were true. The judge can decide which of her statements are more credible.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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