Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
The victim has no power to "drop charges", this is a matter for the District Attorney to decide. The ADA who has been assigned the case may take the victim's wishes into consideration, but the ultimate decision to prosecute the case, dismiss it, or offer a reduced plea is within the discretion of the DA. If it is an assault and the person refuses to sign a supporting deposition, show up in court, or recants his account of the events the DA may be willing to offer an ACD, or delayed dismissal, but they seldom just dismiss the charges. If the DA decides that he cannot prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, he may move to dismiss the case, but he will usually offer the ACD. You probably paid a retainer fee to your attorney. He usually will take $500 on a misdemeanor or $1000-2000 as a retainer on a felony. He will usually charge you $200-300 per hour for his services. Some lawyers in Manhattan charge $500 per hour, but the average is $200. If the case is dismissed on the first appearance the attorney may return part of the fee, unless he has earned the amount you have paid as an earned fee. For example, if the charge was a felony assault and you paid a $5,000 retainer the attorney may return part of the retainer if he only made one appearance and did not make motions, have meetings, do extensive legal research, or conduct an investigation. Normally lawyers do not return any part of a retainer unless they cannot show that any time was spent on the case, but you have to take his word for how many hours he spent on the case, so he is unlikely to return any amount unless it was a very large retainer and only one day had passed before the case was dismissed. If he does not return the fee, you can ask for an arbitration, but you will lose on that hearing if there was a week or two during which the attorney may have spend many hours working on the case.
Answer Applies to: New York