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Rihanna and Chris Brown: Does a reunion mean case closed?

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In the monthlong media blitz following 21-year-old pop star Rihanna’s alleged Feb. 8 beating by her 19-year-old R&B beau Chris Brown, the duo’s case has certainly been tried in the court of public opinion. But according to the latest news, the charges have yet to reach the bench. Will they ever, what with recent reports

that the onetime lovebirds are back together?

After being spotted at one of Sean “Diddy” Combs’ homes on Miami Beach’s Star ­Island — Brown was repeatedly photographed; Rihanna was not — the duo flew back on March 2 to L.A., where Brown had been scheduled to appear at an arraignment three days later. When contacted on March 3, however, the Los Angeles Police Department said that the case was still under investigation and had not yet been moved to the district attorney’s office — a necessary step for arraignment.

What isn’t necessary to press charges in cases of domestic violence: the victim’s cooperation. According to Nancy Lemon, the director of the UC Berkeley School of Law’s Domestic Violence Law Practicum,

it’s “extremely typical” for domestic violence victims to opt out of

testifying against their abusers, and Lemon says there is at least one

academic study that indicates that conviction rates actually go up when

the victim does not appear in court. “Probably 80 percent of the time

in the United States, domestic violence victims either don’t testify at

all, or if they do testify, they may testify for the defense,” says

Lemon, who emphasized that she was speaking generally and was not

familiar with the details of Brown’s alleged crime.

addCredit(“Frank Micelotta/Getty Images”)

When victims prefer not to testify, Lemon says, California

prosecutors often call expert witnesses like herself to the stand.

“We’re not supposed to know the facts of the case,” she says. “We come

in and talk to the jury in general about the dynamics of domestic

violence and why it is that it’s very, very common for victims to

recant or not testify. We’re not giving an opinion as to whether [a]

crime actually happened or did not happen, but we’re educating [the

jury] that just because the victim is recanting or not testifying, that

doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen.” This technique, known as

“victimless prosecution,” is “pretty successful” at leading to

convictions, Lemon says.

Lemon adds that prosecutors in such situations can also pursue

“evidence-based prosecution,” in which they build a case from records

such as photographs, statements to police at the scene, and 911 calls.

Pending further statements from the LAPD or the DA, of course, it

remains unknown how much non-testimony evidence of that sort may or may

not exist in Brown’s case.  

Brown himself has declined to comment on the case beyond his Feb. 15

statement that he was saddened “over what transpired.” When EW asked

Los Angeles DA spokesperson Jane Robison whether a change in the pair’s

relationship status would affect the outcome of the case were it to

come to trial, she firmly replied, “It doesn’t matter if there was a

reconciliation or anything else, because nothing has been filed to us.

Currently, there is no case here.” (Additional reporting by Simon

Vozick-Levinson)

More Chris Brown-Rihanna:
Chris Brown update: Court appearance expected on March 5
Police launch investigation into leak of Rihanna photo
The fallout from TMZ’s Rihanna photo reveal 

Chris Brown reportedly attends anger management class


Chris Brown surrenders to LAPD; released on $50,000 bail
Chris Brown and Rihanna: More fallout

When victims prefer not to testify, Lemon says, Californiaprosecutors often call expert witnesses like herself to the stand.”We’re not supposed to know the facts of the case,” she says. “We comein and talk to the jury in general about the dynamics of domesticviolence and why it is that it’s very, very common for victims torecant or not testify. We’re not giving an opinion as to whether [a]crime actually happened or did not happen, but we’re educating [thejury] that just because the victim is recanting or not testifying, thatdoesn’t mean that it didn’t happen.” This technique, known as”victimless prosecution,” is “pretty successful” at leading toconvictions, Lemon says.

Lemon adds that prosecutors in such situations can also pursue”evidence-based prosecution,” in which they build a case from recordssuch as photographs, statements to police at the scene, and 911 calls.Pending further statements from the LAPD or the DA, of course, itremains unknown how much non-testimony evidence of that sort may or maynot exist in Brown’s case.  

Brown himself has declined to comment on the case beyond his Feb. 15statement that he was saddened “over what transpired.” When EW askedLos Angeles DA spokesperson Jane Robison whether a change in the pair’srelationship status would affect the outcome of the case were it tocome to trial, she firmly replied, “It doesn’t matter if there was areconciliation or anything else, because nothing has been filed to us.Currently, there is no case here.” (Additional reporting by SimonVozick-Levinson)

More Chris Brown-Rihanna:
Chris Brown update: Court appearance expected on March 5
Police launch investigation into leak of Rihanna photo
The fallout from TMZ’s Rihanna photo reveal 
Chris Brown reportedly attends anger management class
Chris Brown surrenders to LAPD; released on $50,000 bail
Chris Brown and Rihanna: More fallout

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