Is it possible to drop charges out of court? 38 Answers as of May 12, 2011

I was involved in a domestic dispute with my current girlfriend. I called the police due to her hitting me, but on the call and when the cops spoke to me I clearly stated I didn't want to press charges and I didn't want an order of protection. I want to get all of this dropped due to the fact that this was an isolated incident. Is this possible to do out of court?

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
The decision on whether to prosecute someone for a crime is solely that of the prosecuting attorney. If you wish the charges to be dropped you should speak with the prosecutor or assistant prosecutor handling the case. They do not have to respect your wishes however if they believe the prosecution should continue. If you want further information, contact us.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/12/2011
Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
It depends on whether the prosecutor already filed papers yet. If not, you can contact the district attorney ( or the police precinct if the police did not give the paperwork to the prosecutor yet ) and ask them to drop the charges, however the prosecutor has the discretion whether to file charges or not . The prosecutor can decide to prosecute even if you say you do not want to press charges.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 5/12/2011
Timothy J. Thill P.C.
Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
You must show up in court and discuss your decision with the prosecutor before the charges are dropped. Understand, the State has picked up the charges, you are merely a complaining witness, and the decision to proceed or drop charges is not yours, but the prosecutor's. In almost all cases, they will drop the charges is you really want them dropped.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 5/9/2011
Law Office of Richard Williams
Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
Criminal charges are not against a person so they are not allowed to drop the charges. The charges are against the peace and dignity of the state or municipality where the act occurred. You may have input as to whether you wish to go forward with criminal charges but they are ultimately at the discretion of the prosecutor as to whether or not the charges will be presented to the court.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 5/9/2011
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
Once the police are called it is within their power to refer the matter to the District Attorney for possible prosecution. It is not the "victim's" choice anymore. On the other hand the District Attorney will consider all the factors inc. the victim's attitude toward the prosecution in deciding how to proceed. I have been able on behalf of the victim in not having charges brought by contacting the DA before the case is filed. Although you do not need an attorney you may consider hiring one (other than the one your girlfriend will need) to assist you in this regard.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/9/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    Talk with the DA. Tell them that you will not testify. They most likely drop the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/9/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Absolutely not. In the State of Washington, only the prosecutor's office can file and dismiss charges. Furthermore, if you receive a subpoena to testify, you must appear in court or face being arrested on a material witness warrant. Your best strategy would be to meet with your domestic violence advocate and try to convince her to convince the prosecutor to go easy on your wife and/or dismissing the case. To accomplish this, you must be cooperative and respectful with the advocate and the prosecutor. The bottom line is if you told the cops that she hit you, the prosecutor can prove the case. If you were to change your story, the prosecutor would impeach you with your statement to the cop and discredit you. Beyond this, you should have your wife obtain a domestic violence evaluation and have her follow the recommendations of the evaluator. If alcohol or drugs were involved on your wife's part, she should also get an alcohol-substance abuse evaluation and follow the treatment recommendations if there are any. Your wife should keep quiet about the charges and the facts supporting them. A careless word to a friend can tar and feather a criminal defendant if the prosecutor hears about it. The best thing you can do is hire an experienced criminal defense attorney because prosecutors and advocates prefer to deal with attorneys because we know the concepts and terminology and we know how the game is played. Please feel free to call me if you have any further questions or concerns.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/9/2011
    Law Office of Cotter C. Conway
    Law Office of Cotter C. Conway | Cotter C. Conway
    Under Nevada law, a prosecutor cannot dismiss a domestic violence charge for any reason unless the charge is not supported by the evidence (i.e. cannot be proved at the time of trial). Thus, it is technically not possible for the alleged victim to "drop the charges" once the domestic violence charge has been filed in court. Your girlfriend needs to retain counsel immediately to either convince the prosecutor not to file the charge or prepare an argument to convince the prosecutor that the charge cannot be proved at trial. Contact me for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 5/9/2011
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
    Yes, but a lot of prosecutors prefer not to drop the charges because the defendant may otherwise be encouraged to do it again. Just call the prosecuting attorney's office and set an appointment to discuss it in person with him, her or their staff to try to get them to drop it. Stay well.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 5/9/2011
    Law Offices of Scott G. Hilderman
    Law Offices of Scott G. Hilderman | Scott G. Hilderman
    Yes; you need to contact the prosecutor. However, they may still prosecute her; it is up to the prosecutor. It is called prosecutorial discretion.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 5/9/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    If charges have been filed and accepted by the District Attorney then there is little you can do outside of the courts. If the charges have yet to be accepted then it may be possible to request that they be dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 5/9/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    It is possible, but it will be determined by the police agency and/or the prosecutor to determine whether the charges are filed or dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    No. Only a prosecutor may file charges or dismiss charges in Minnesota.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    Once the charge is filed you no longer are the victim, just a witness. Does not sound like they have a case without you as a witness. If you get served to appear in court you must appear, if you get mailed notice you are not officially served. Without you as a witness they have no case.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    This is a common misconception. You are not the one pressing charges, the state is. Sometimes, if you are not willing to be witness, they will actually threaten YOU with contempt or custody. As to the restraining order, you can ask to have that dropped. You need to notify the DA's office and let them know your wishes.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Law Offices of Ramona Hallam
    Law Offices of Ramona Hallam | Ramona Hallam
    Unfortunately the police will forward the case to the District Attorney who will decide whether to charge. This happens in domestic violence cases even where there is a reluctant victim. The acts are still viewed as criminal in nature and much of the time the DA will prosecute even if you don't want it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    Once the police are called, it is up to the prosecutor (state court or superior court) to decide if he wants to drop the charges.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    No. Once the police report is written and submitted to the prosecutor, it is out of your hands. Realize that 90% of all DV cases involve a recanting witness or a witness who no longer wishes to go forward. If prosecutors backed down every time one of the above occurs, then 90% of all DV cases would be dismissed (which clearly isn't the case).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    These cases take place in court, but sometimes the prosecutor will listen to a victim if they don't want to proceed.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    You can talk to the prosecutor and ask them to drop the charges. They don't have to and can proceed without your cooperation because they have subpoena power, but usually they do not want to pursue such a case with a reluctant complaining witness.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    It is possible, but entirely up to the state whether charges are dropped or not. You may want to contact the prosecutor and express your desire, and unwillingness to testify. The state can drop the charges at any time. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    She needs to have a lawyer and you need a separate lawyer. Then your lawyer can call the DA and say that since there are misstatements in the police report (assuming there are - there usually are) that you will not testify and take the 5th Amendment as they can either charge you with perjury for the statements (if they believe they are a lie).

    Most DAs understand that this is a boyfriend-girlfriend thing and will drop it. However if they persist in pursuing it, they have to serve you a subpoena as a witness. If they can't find you they can't serve you and they have to dismiss the case.

    The reason you can't do this without a lawyer is that the DA will then start giving you a ration of crap, threatening you with contempt, telling you they will give you immunity, etc. If your lawyer calls you are insulated from all of this and your lawyer will know how to respond to the DA. Make sure you hire an experienced criminal lawyer. Her lawyer can probably recommend someone for you who will be interested in helping her out. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C.
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C. | Michael Morgan
    The prosecutor has the discretion to file charges and move to dismiss charges the public policy reason for not allowing victims the right to drop charges is so there is no incentive from actual batterers from pressuring actual victims into dropping charges.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Law Offices of Steven R. Decker
    Law Offices of Steven R. Decker | Steven Decker
    In most courtrooms the prosecutor would require the victim to come into court and be sworn that there were not any threats made to get the complaining witness to drop the charges. In most counties , unless there are extenuating circumstances, the charge would be dropped due to the reluctant witness not wishing to testify.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Kevin Smith, Attorney at Law
    Kevin Smith, Attorney at Law | Kevin Smith
    Unfortunately, it will not be possible to "get all of this dropped" without going to court. Once an arrest has been made, the case will go to court, regardless of your desire to press charges or not. It will now be up to the prosecutor to determine how to dispose of the case; however, you as the complaining witness can certainly influence the prosecutor's decision. As a victim, you have a right to be heard, and the prosecutor will also have to factor in your unwillingness to participate in the prosecution. Typically, if the incident was minor, the case will be referred to Family Relations, who may accept the case and work out a resolution that will induce the prosecutor to enter a nolle, essentially dismissing the case so long as there are no new arrests over the next 13 months. Your girlfriend should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss the specific facts and circumstances of her case immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Andrew R. Lynch, P.C.
    Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. | Andrew R. Lynch
    No. Your girlfriend needs an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    The decision to drop charges lies with the prosecutor,not the alleged victim known as the compliantant. You may be able to influence the DA's decision to prosecute the matter by contacting him or her and letting them know you do not wish to pursue the matter.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    The Law Offices of Jason Chan
    The Law Offices of Jason Chan | Jason Chan
    Once the criminal complaint is filed the district attorney is involved. The district attorney has the authority with the case. Therefore, your case needs to be dealt with in court unfortunately.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Once domestic violence charges are brought by calling the police, the DA generally will ignore all such pleas and excuses from the victim, and will subpoena you to hearings to prosecute the case. Many, if not most, victims are intimidated and threatened into dropping charges, so the DA policy is to protect you in spite of yourself. IF you get an attorney and he is able to convince the DA there really wasnt any violence and there is good cause to dismiss, you might get what you want.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    California Criminal Defense Center
    California Criminal Defense Center | Ardalon Fakhimi
    It is possible, but often difficult. Domestic violence cases are taken very seriously and the filing of criminal charges is not dependent on the complaining witness's desire to prosecute or not. If the prosecutor determines that there has been a law violation and the violation(s) can be proven, they will typically file charges.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    LynchLaw
    LynchLaw | Michael Thomas Lynch
    Having charges dropped before any court appearance is difficult and rare in ordinary cases. The fact that this would be a Domestic Violence charge makes the chance of a dismissal even more remote. The DA is reluctant to dismiss DV cases in general out of fear of looking soft on domestic crimes. To make matters even more difficult, there are groups of watchdog groups who track these cases in an attempt to keep the DA's feet in the fire. Any victim of a crime can have input on a case, but the crime is considered to be one against the People of CA. Therefore it is the decision of the DA to prosecute or dismiss. On the other hand a prosecutor is reluctant to work any case in which it does not have a willing witness. To avoid the appearance of being soft on such crimes the DA will prepare the case and let the Court dismiss if the witness does not testify. A couple of quick points: Never ask a witness to not testify. Think twice before discussing the matter with anyone other than counsel. Contact an attorney to help you communicate with those involved. Hope this helps.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    Unfortunately when you call the police, the State takes over the prosecution of the case. While you are entitled to let the prosecutor know your wishes - and in fact they are required to contact you to ask - they are still in charge of whether the charges get dropped or if they proceed. So you should certainly let the prosecutor know what you want to have happen and why, but you don't get to 'control' whether the case proceeds or not. Sorry.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Expert Bronx Criminal Lawyers
    Expert Bronx Criminal Lawyers | Alexander Sanchez
    The only entity that has the authority to drop charges is the District Attorney. Certainly, you have a lot of influence, but ultimately the DA makes the final decision. The person to contact is the Assistant District Attorney. You can explain to the ADA just why you want to drop charges, and he may agree that without your interest or cooperation, he will recommend dismissal.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Law Offices of Carl Spector
    Law Offices of Carl Spector | Carl Spector
    In order to drop the charges you will have to communicate your wishes to the prosecutor. The prosecutor may require that you come to their office to speak with them or perhaps even come to court.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law
    William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law | William C. Gosnell
    No the case is State vs. girlfriend You are a witness. You can't drop it when you are not a party.
    Answer Applies to: Tennessee
    Replied: 5/6/2011
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 5 6 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney