According to recent reports, the hiker portrayed in the film “127 hours” who was arrested in connection with a domestic violence dispute last week has had his charges dismissed. The defendant, Aron Ralston, gained world-wide attention following an incident several years ago in which he was forced to amputate his own arm to free himself after being trapped by a boulder during a hiking expedition. Ralston later wrote a book about his plight and was portrayed by James Franco in the hit movie “127 hours.”
The initial domestic violence charges resulted from an incident in which both Aron Ralston and his girlfriend Vita Shannon accused each other of committing acts of physical domestic violence in front of their 8-week-old son. Ralston accused Shannon of hitting him in the back of the head multiple times, while Shannon accused Ralston of shoving her on the shoulder.
It is not entirely clear why the domestic violence charges were dropped against Aron Ralston, but the available information would lead me to believe that it may have been because of a lack of evidence against him. According to reports, the charges against Ralston resulted from his girlfriend’s statements that he shoved her. In many cases, shoving does not result in physical injuries. Even if Ralston did violently shove his girlfriend, if there were no visible injuries there is little evidence that can be used to help secure a conviction for domestic violence against him.
According to reports and actions taken by prosecutors, it is quite likely that Ralston did not commit domestic violence against his girlfriend. The handling prosecutors, as well as the state, have dropped the domestic violence charges that Ralston was previously facing. This would be very difficult for someone who is not guilty of committing domestic violence. Situations in which victims of real instances of domestic abuse try to drop the charges against their attacker are regularly rejected, as the state’s prosecutors will continue to pursue penalties against DV attackers for which there is evidence.
Having represented countless domestic violence defendants in Southern California, I can say with certainty that if there was evidence that Ralston committed domestic violence, prosecutors will rarely, if ever, drop the charges against the defendant.
Currently, prosecutors assigned to this case are still pursuing domestic violence charges against Aron Ralston’s girlfriend Vita Shannon. This implies that there is enough evidence for prosecutors to believe that Shannon could be convicted. Although there is no way to tell whether or not she truly attacked Aron Ralston, the available evidence is enough to make prosecutors pursue penalties against her.
Shannon is now the only one facing domestic abuse charges, as Ralston’s charges have been dropped.
If Ralston is innocent and did not push his girlfriend in any way, there is a possibility that his girlfriend, Vita Shannon, could face additional criminal charges. Lying to police is a criminal offense. Also, those who falsely accuse others of domestic violence who are then found to be the attacker make it more difficult for real victims of domestic violence to gain public support after an attack. Prosecutors may feel they need to make an example, or they could let the incident go.
If you or your loved one are facing charges for domestic violence in Southern California, contact my domestic violence defense law firm for a free case evaluation. Those who fail to hire an attorney for their DV charges may miss out on important opportunities to expose the prosecution’s flaws. Let our experience with more than 10,000 clients guide you through the process and help you feel more at ease.
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