What if the victim wants to drop the charges, but the prosecutor won’t do it?

What if the victim wants to drop the charges, but the prosecutor won’t do it?

Consider the following scenario: the defendant seriously injured his spouse by punching, kicking, or choking her. The spouse or someone she knows (family, friends, neighbors, etc.) has reported the incident to the police. The cops show up and begin gathering evidence in preparation for a domestic violence charge against the defendant

The situation is tumultuous when the spouse doesn’t want to be abused, but she also doesn’t want to see the defendant in trouble with the law. Many battered spouses feel compelled to protect their abuser. Does the victim has the authority to have domestic violence charges dropped against her.

The answer is “no”. The victim has no authority to have a domestic violence charge dropped once filed with the prosecutor’s office. Domestic violence is a serious act. The criminal justice system is frequently misunderstood. The majority of people believe that the victims of crime bring the charges. This is incorrect. The state governs offenses, and the state, not the victim, is the one who files criminal charges.

In other words, a victim can’t cancel the charge because she didn’t issue it. As a result, the state (specifically, the prosecutor’s office) will decide whether to pursue the case or dismiss the domestic violence charges. Remember that, even if the victim isn’t the one who files the criminal charges, she will play an important role as the case progresses.

Changing the Statement

Victims frequently want to change or recant their statements to police and investigators, even though they can’t drop domestic violence charges. Recanting means retracting a previous statement. The victim may, for example, have told police that her spouse was abusing her but later wish to retract that statement. Recanting is usually not a good idea unless the victim actually lied to authorities. Recanting will not necessarily result in the state dropping the case. Furthermore, if the victim recants, he/she may face criminal charges for providing false information to law enforcement and the court. If a defendant attempts to influence the victim in any way to change his or her statement, then he can be charged with witness tampering, which is a felony.

Who Has the Authority to Drop (or Not Drop) Criminal Charges?

In civil lawsuits, which can occasionally arise from these situations, the attorney files a lawsuit on behalf of the victim against the criminal defendant. As a result, the victim has the authority to tell his lawyer whether or not to pursue the civil action after it has been filed. She the option of dropping it. This is true, for example, in the case of a civil  restraining order.

In criminal cases, however, the state, the federal government, or both bring their claims against the defendant through their prosecutors. They are the ones who have the right to either dismiss or prosecute the case. All the victim can do is ask the prosecutor to “drop the charges.”

The Victim Entitled to Input

The victim isn’t completely powerless, even if she doesn’t have the authority to drop charges. She can ask the state or federal prosecutor to dismiss the charges, but they are not obligated to do so. A good prosecutor will usually consider the victims’ wishes when determining the appropriate punishment, but they will make the final decision.

The victim can speak with the prosecutor and request that the charges be dropped, explaining her reasoning. This situation can get complicated. Suppose the victim makes statements that contradict what she originally told police. In that case, the victim could face a charge of false statement to an officer.

Also, if a victim lied to the police and someone is about to be punished for something they DID NOT do, they are faced with a difficult decision. The question is whether to tell the truth, or not to tell the truth.

That is why it sometimes it makes sense for the victim to have a criminal defense attorney by her side. To protect her interests as much as possible while avoiding an injustice. However, she should make sure to seek advice from a lawyer who isn’t representing the accused. It would be a conflict of interest for the same lawyer to defend the accused criminal while also pursuing the victim’s request to have the charges dropped.

In the end, it is up to the prosecuting attorney to decide whether or not the charges in the case should be dropped. The defendant has the highest chance of winning if he works with an experienced New Hampshire criminal defense lawyer.

12 Responses

  1. My boyfriend ran into my car 3 time and He was high, he was not trying to hurt me but he did likes to damage my car. So they asked me to press paper . I told them no cuz he didn’t mean what he did and they gave him aggravated assault. I would like to know what would I have to do cuz I don’t want him to have a felony and he was not trying to hurt me he just accidentally bumped the car about three times

    1. Me and my boyfriend got into a heated argument he threatened that he was going to pull a gun on me he came to my house with the gun they charged him for aggravated assault and breaking it in or he hasn’t had court yet will he get jail time once he go to court whether he plead guilty or not guilty what will the prosecutors say

  2. My partner got arrested today cause he was up set and pushed me and was yelling I was up set when I filed police report but I did write state and emailed to the police officer who press charges they still have arrest him book him and set bond to but if asked charges to be dropped will they drop them

  3. My wife and I were involved in a rare argument. We work dilligently to never allow the children to see or hear whenever there are disputes. I am an avid shooter as well and it is not unusual for me to discharge firearms on the property. There is a large picture window with two sliding side windows in our bedroom. Our home is secluded and surrounded by wooded areas well away from other residences. At one point during the discussion I was frustrated and took out a pistol, aimed at a target out of the opened bedroom window and fired a shot. Somehow this was misconstrued by my elderly mother who resides with as and she came down the hallway demanding to know if everyone was ok. Both my wife and I being tired, frustrated, and jaded to my mothers often erratic behavior naively ignored her requests both assuming that she should know better. This was our mistake. When we ignored this my step daughter who has not witnessed us arguing but did witness her biological father horribly abuse her mother, called 911. it State Trooper arrived and neither I nor my Wife reported any abuse. I did relate to him the same thing I outlined here. After several hours and him making numerous phone calls to an unknown third party, he arrested me and charged me with Domestic Assault. Despite the protestations or both my wife and myself. The complaint states nothing more than that I discharged a firearm. How can this continue? No threats were made. No hitting, slapping, etc. No one had any injuries. I’m confused about the entire scenario. I was exonerated from a feling conviction eight years ago. I’m wondering if this is some attempted reprisal. Might it not he prudent for ml to contact the Federal Authorities under Color of Law violations,

  4. I have been in an abusive relationship with my boyfriend for three years and just about a week ago, I decided to do something about it and I pressed charges. A few days went by and my bf (who wasn’t arrested) told me if I didn’t drop the charges that there was going to be problems and that he was going to find a way to put me in jail for anything he could. With that being said, I dropped the charges and that was that. Since the day I dropped the charges, my bf(now ex) has done everything in his power to screw me over. He has lied to police and friends and family and even our landlord saying I’m causing nothing but problems for him and that I’m making false charges, which they believe for some reason and because of that he has just got me kicked out of my house and I’m homeless. I didn’t deserve this especially when I was the victim. Can I re-open the same domestic case I previously charged him with now that I’m in no danger?

  5. Can i drop battery charges on my wife so she doesn’t risk losing her ssi or going to jail i had placed charges against due to fact of her hitting me an leaving red marks but had gone way by time officers had shown up

  6. My partner cheated on me and broke into my house at night, because I had asked for space and cut him off. He is now charged for 1st degree bulgerly in SC because he broke into my house at night. He is an alcoholic and was extremely drunk when this happened. The judge issued an order of no contact and I want this dropped as well as the charges. What can I do?

  7. Well me and my fiance have a different situation than any of the ones I’ve read. I was heavily intoxicated and extremely depressed, I was committing self harm cut my arm severely. We went to hug before I left we both fell some of my blood got on her shirt. We made sure each other was ok then I left even though she asked me not to. When I finally returned I was detained and arrested for domestic assault. She wants the charges and no contact dropped because literally no crime was committed at all. From what i know in my state the state will not drop the charges or no contact order. Not sure what to do I certainly won’t plead guilty to a crime I didn’t commit but I can’t say I shouldn’t have been arrested it’s pretty clear I should have been charged with public intox but they didn’t even breathalyze me. She even told the officers that I did not harm her in any way. We have a pretty good relationship going on two years and we had been discussing when to set our marriage date. Our situation is seriously screwed up and not sure why they did this. Only thing I can think of is the officers asked her to call me when I answered an officer told me I needed to come back and get medical attention but I told them to go f themselves I didn’t need medical attention. Seems like they took offense to that and charged me with what they considered reasonable but it’s not reasonable to charge someone for domestic assault when I harmed myself.

  8. I’m in the Military, my wife call the cops on me that I strike her in the face 3 times, the cop came and took her picture no sign of injury, they ask her to write she refuse and she never sign any document but my Battalion still went to police Station to obtain the document, my wife make a oat with a lawyer that she made up everything that I strike her but my Battalion still demoted me yesterday. I have appeal to brigade, extra duty. So painful, I will I get help

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