A situation we see and hear a lot as criminal defense attorneys is one where an alleged crime is reported to law enforcement, but the initial complainant later does not wish to pursue criminal charges against the suspect. Unfortunately, it is not that simple.
This type of scenario is particularly common when the parties involved are family, in a relationship, or friends. If a couple gets in a drunken altercation, one partner might call the police and the other could be arrested. However, once everyone has calmed down the next day, the person that reported it might simply want to let it go and move on.
Now, even though they may want to “drop the charges,” it is out of their hands. Once a report has been made to law enforcement (whether someone was arrested or not), the wheels are already in motion. Law enforcement will conduct any follow-up investigation necessary, then draft a report and decide whether to forward it to the City Attorney’s Office or District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
A prosecutor will then review the case and determine whether to file criminal charges. While the prosecutor should take the reporting party’s preferences into consideration, they do not actually need to follow them. Therefore—if a neighbor calls the police after hearing a domestic dispute—a husband might still be criminally prosecuted even if the wife never wished to pursue the case. The only person that can dismiss the charges at that point would be the prosecutor or a judge.
The most important thing to do when accused of any crime is to be proactive and not reactive. Even if the alleged victim does not want to be involved in your prosecution, your future and reputation could still be at stake. However, with the assistance of a reputable, locally experienced criminal defense firm, you can begin taking the steps necessary to get your situation back under control.
For more information, you can check out managing partner David Shapiro’s video here and give us a call at (619) 295-3555 to set up a consultation today.
The contents of this article and blog are for meant for informational and marketing purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Viewing and/or use of the blog does not form an attorney-client relationship. No statements in this post are a guarantee, warranty, or prediction of a particular result in your case.