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Man gets charges dismissed

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When victims of domestic violence do not participate in the prosecution of their alleged perpetrator or make themselves available to prosecutors for various personal reasons, criminal charges get dismissed, which was the case for Christopher James Irvine, 45, of Pablo. 

He was facing up to 10 years in the Montana state prison and Judge James Manley said that sentence is probably what he would have handed down had charges not been dismissed.

Irvine had four separate cases stacked against him. The first case involved one count of failing to register as a sexual or violent offender. He was later charged with strangulation of a partner or family member.

According to court records, on Jan. 30, 2019, law enforcement officers with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes received information of a woman who had been “choked and beaten up” and sounded very hoarse.

The alleged victim told a responding officer that she had been in a relationship with Irvine for about a year and that he choked her and bit her four times on the arm.

He missed court appearances on those charges on May 1, 2019, and was charged with two counts of bail jumping, all felony charges.

The victim in the strangulation case was “persistently unavailable” throughout the investigation and her whereabouts were unknown at sentencing, according to prosecutor Molly Owen with the Lake County Attorney’s Office. Owen told the court that the plea agreement, reached on Nov. 13, 2019, is the best possible outcome given the circumstances.

“You’re on a short lease,” Manley told Irvine during the sentencing hearing, held at District Court in Polson on Jan. 8. Irvine was given five years with the Montana Department of Corrections with all that time suspended on the strangulation of a partner or family member charge.

Owen was left with no other choice but to dismiss all the other charges in exchange for a guaranteed conviction in the first case.


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