Who can drop a criminal charge? 80 Answers as of August 26, 2012

Is it the district attorney or the alleged victim? Like if the alleged victim wanted to drop the charges, is the decision made solely by the district attorney and his belief that a crime was probably committed? Can it be dropped if the alleged victim wants to?

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

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Law Office of Christopher G Humphrey PC | Christopher G Humphrey
The District Attorney decides.
Answer Applies to: Wyoming
Replied: 8/26/2012
Reza Athari & Associates, PLLC | Seth L. Reszko
The District Attorney is the one who will determine whether or not to dismiss charges against you.

The DA will consider the position of the victim, but if the victim had previously given a statement to the police and is now changing the story, the DA might not dismiss the charges.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 8/26/2012
Law Office of Michael E. Dailey
Law Office of Michael E. Dailey | Michael E. Dailey
The sole discretion to proceed to trial or to drop a criminal charge rests with the prosecutor. In a criminal case even the victims are only designated as witnesses not parties.

In theory the prosecutor is to take all factors into consideration in making the decision, but the power is in his/her hands only.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 8/26/2012
Anderson Law Office
Anderson Law Office | Scott L. Anderson
Once a case has been filed it is up to the prosecutor to continue the case or dismiss. The alleged victim has input and can contact the prosecutor regarding their opinion but the prosecutor has the final say.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 8/20/2012
Anabelle Dias, P.A.
Anabelle Dias, P.A. | Anabelle Dias
The victim can request that charges be dropped. However the ultimate decision is with the state attorney's office.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 8/20/2012
    LeadfootSpeedingTicket.com
    LeadfootSpeedingTicket.com | Andrea Storey Rogers
    Victim can drop charges, but the prosecutor can still decide to press charges.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Larry K. Dunn & Associates | Larry K. Dunn
    An alleged victim does not have the power to 'drop charges'.

    The district attorney has the power and discretion to dismiss certain charges under certain conditions.

    If the charges involve domestic battery, there are certain legal restrictions, policies and conditions under which the district attorney will dismiss charges.

    The district attorney may consider the victim's desire to not prosecute the charges and the State's ability to prove the case, in deciding whether to dismiss the charges.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Solely up to the prosecutor. They bring or drop all charges.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Offices of Mark L. Smith
    Law Offices of Mark L. Smith | Mark L. Smith
    Sometimes it can be dropped but if the crime is domestic violence it becomes much more difficult to drop the charges.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
    The prosecutor is the only one to drop charges as all criminal charges are brought in the name of the People of the State of Michigan.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    NO, it is not up to the victim. On the other hand the victim has certain bargaining advantages that can best be leveraged by obtaining his or her own attorney if it is worth it to that person.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Jennifer L. Gottschalk, Esq. | Jennifer Gottschalk
    Decision not to prosecute is made by the prosecutor, but is often made in consultation with the victim.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Stephen D. Hebert, LLC | Stephen Hebert
    In short, the decision to drop a charge is solely the District Attorney's decision to make.

    However, the District Attorney normally will take the alleged victim's wishes into account before making any decision.

    However, many District Attorneys have recently changed their policies to proceed with domestic violence charges, even when the alleged victim wants all charges dropped.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Steven Alpers | Steven Alpers
    It is the DA who drops charges.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    The Law Offices of Stephen L. Richards | Stephen L. Richards
    It depends upon many factors. One factor is if the case is a misdemeanor or a felony.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Office of Brian K. Wanerman
    Law Office of Brian K. Wanerman | Brian K. Wanerman
    Only the District Attorney can drop a charge or make a decision not to prosecute. If the alleged victim is reluctant to cooperate with the D.A. or testify at a trial, that might make the D.A.'s job more difficult. But, he is under no obligation to drop charges just because the alleged victim wants him to.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law office of Robert D. Scott | Robert Scott
    The State's Attorney determines whether to prosecute or drop charges.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Universal Law Group, Inc. | Francis John Cowhig
    Only the District Attorney can drop criminal charges.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq.
    Law & Mediation Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. | Jeffrey Lawrence Pollock
    Both have a role, but the DA has no case without a witness/victim.

    But the prosecuting party is the state, not the victim.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Office of James E. Smith
    Law Office of James E. Smith | James Smith
    Only in civil cases can the victim drop the case. Only the prosecutor can drop a criminal charge.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    The victim is not a party to the case, merely a complaining witness.

    Remember, in a criminal case, it is the people of the State, not the victim, who is party plaintiff, and the district attorney has sole power to dismiss the case, not the victim.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Cale Plamann | Cale Plamann
    Outside of domestic violence cases, the DA will usually drop a charge if the victim indicates that they do not want to go forward. That said, the DA does have to drop the charge for it to get dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C. | Gary A. Russell
    The ultimate decision to proceed with a charge or to dismiss it lies with the prosecutor. If the only evidence the prosecutor has is the complainant's testimony, then if the complainant will not cooperate, the prosecutor may be forced to dismiss the charge. Of course the prosecutor can compel the complainant to appear in court to testify via subpoena power. Finally, certain offenses allow the prosecutor to proceed even if the complainant does not wish to. Domestic violence is one such offense.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    Many women have their husband or boyfriend arrested and then want to "drop the charges".

    The prosecutor will make the decision of whether to dismiss the case, reduce it, offer a plea, or request a jail term. The victim can give their input and it may make a difference, but if it is a serious matter they may ignore the victim's request.

    You should retain a good criminal lawyer and have him present the victim's opinion to the prosecutor or the victim can get into trouble if they change their story or refuse to cooperate.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    The decision is strictly that of the prosecutor/district attorney. The defendant has been charged with a crime.

    The victim is exactly that... a victim/witness to the crime that was committed.

    If the witness/victim does not want to testify, the prosecutor could have a material witness warrant issued to bring the person in to testify.

    If the witness is not cooperative, it may make the case more difficult to prove, but that is for the district attorney/prosecutor to decide.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    ONLY the District Attorney (actually the Assistant District Attorney, or ADA) who can drop charges. Once the defendant is charged, it is the Commonwealth v. Defendant, not Victim v. Defendant.

    The ADA represents not only the victim, who has a personal interest in the outcome, but the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a whole, that has a community interest in keeping criminals off the street or making sure they are punished.

    This is the underlying theory and reason why a victim cannot dictate the dropping of charges such as Assault & Battery. However, that does not mean that if handled properly, a victim cannot greatly influence both the prosecution or the dismissal of the charges.

    The ADA will typically NOT dismiss just because the victim changes his or her mind, or even if the victim never wanted charges brought to begin with. Once the police are called, it is essentially out of the hands of the victim.

    If the police hear the elements of a charge, they have a mandate to bring that charge. Once the ADA gets the charge, it is their job to prosecute those charges. A good defense lawyer should be able to navigate through the Constitutional rights that all parties have to get the charges dropped, but it is not simple and not likely to happen without an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    Often the prosecutor will be guided by the victim's wishes. Call me if you like.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Once charges are filed by the DA, it is their decision to dismiss, settle or try the case.

    In general, if the victim recants and doesn't want to proceed, it will a judgment call by the DA whether to continue with a witness subpoenaed and compelled to testify.

    If you are hinting that this is a domestic violence case against you, it is the firm policy of the DA to vigorously prosecute, even over the tearful pleading of the victim for her abuser.

    The court system grew tired years ago of victims pleading to drop the charges, then being found beaten to a pulp later by the same abuser.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    The alleged victim is only a witness. In the State of Washington, the prosecuting attorney has the sole discretion to bring or drop charges.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Barbara Fontaine, Esquire | Barbara Fontaine
    Sometimes the victim wants to drop a charge, but if there was a crime committed, the district attorney may want to prosecute it anyhow.

    This is often true with domestic violence, especially if there was significant harm to the victim, who may either be afraid to press the charges or somehow believes that the other party " has found true love " and will not assault again.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    James M. Osak, P.C.
    James M. Osak, P.C. | James M. Osak
    The DA (prosecutor) has the discretion. You (victim) have NO say.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Office of Gregory Crain | Gregory Crain
    Prosecuting attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Office of James Gandy
    Law Office of James Gandy | James Gandy
    Only the district attorney can drop a criminal charge. Though a district attorney may be influenced by the victim's choice to not wish to pursue the charge, the district attorney has complete control of the action.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The DA.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Rogoway Green, LLP
    Rogoway Green, LLP | Douglas Green
    The district attorney is the sole decision-maker on whether to pursue criminal charges against a defendant. Along those same lines, it is completely up to the individual prosecutor (or their office) whether to take an alleged victim's desires into account or not when making the decision to pursue, charge, or dismiss any case.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Randall M. England, Attorney at Law
    Randall M. England, Attorney at Law | Randall M. England
    The crime victim has no power to drop a case. A crime victim pretty much makes their charging decision the moment they pick up the phone to call the police. After that, the matter is out of their hands. In Missouri, it is the prosecuting attorney who has the power to prosecute charges or to dismiss them. Most prosecutors will listen to what the victim has to say about a case, but the victim has no power or control over whether the case is dismissed or not.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Absolutely the DA. The victim has no say. In fact, DA's are trained to deal with recanting witnesses, because people make up all the time. So no, it cannot be dropped based on what the victim wants.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    T.K. Byrne | Timothy K. Byrne
    Ultimately it is the DA who will decide. Nevertheless, if the victim refuses to cooperate, it makes the case tough.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    The decision to drop charges rests with the State of Alabama (The District Attorney). The Court then has to agree with the charges being dropped and will only do so for good cause having been shown.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    The DA id the only one who can drop charges.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Douglas M. Philpott, P.C. | Peter J. Philpott
    The prosecutor.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Joel R. Salinger Attorney at Law
    Joel R. Salinger Attorney at Law | Joel R. Salinger
    Soley by the district attorney's office. They can consult with the victim but it is the DA who has the final and only say.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Pietryga Law Office | Russ Pietryga
    At the end of the day it is the district attorney who decides to dismiss the case. However a victim usually has a strong influence on that decision.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    The decision to drop a charge in a "person crime" is always the prosecutor's. In a case charging a "property crime", prosecutors will often leave the decision to the victim.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Offices of Lee and Baghoomian, P.C.
    Law Offices of Lee and Baghoomian, P.C. | Joseph Lee
    In California, the victim does not "press charges" as you commonly see on television. Please contact our offices at 626 432 1699 for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C.
    Law Office of Michael Morgan, l.L.C. | Michael Morgan
    The prosecutor would have to make a motion to dismiss.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    AyerHoffman, LLP
    AyerHoffman, LLP | David C. Ayer
    In our criminal justice system, any crime is deemed to be an offense against society. As a result, the government has control of the case.

    The victim is considered a witness. Once a criminal complaint has been filed, it is solely the province of the office of the prosecutor to determine whether or not to go forward with charges.

    The victim's sole recourse is to recant testimony or refuse to testify. Depending on the amount of evidence the prosecutor has gathered, it may or may not make a difference. In many cases an uncooperative victim-witness will cause the case to be dropped, but it is tricky.

    It can bolster the prosecution's case if it appears the victim-witness has been intimidated. Any decision by a victim-witness to be uncooperative made for the benefit of the accused (and not due to a personal desire not to testify in court) should involve the accused's defense counsel.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Conway Law Pllc.
    Conway Law Pllc. | B. L. Conway
    It it the States case and it will decide whether to proceed. There are risk both ways here. Do not give a statement to anyone or talk about this matter.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Natty Shafer Law
    Natty Shafer Law | Nathaniel Shafer
    It the district attorney's decision. Usually they take the victim's wishes into account so if you tell a district attorney you want to drop the charges, they may comply, but they do not have to do so.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    The DA controls the charges once the police are contacted. The victim may provide some input, but the DA decides what to do with the charges.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Benjamin D Gordon, Attorney at Law
    Benjamin D Gordon, Attorney at Law | Benjamin D Gordon
    Only the prosecuting attorney can decide to drop a criminal charge. They will often respect an alleged victim's wishes and requests to drop a charge, but not always.

    If the alleged victim refuses to appear and offer testimony, sometimes the prosecutor will have no option but to dismiss the case.

    This can have adverse consequences for the alleged victim, if they are subject to a subpoena.

    One exception to this is when the alleged victim is the spouse of the defendant. In that case, the alleged victim can invoke the spousal privilege, which is an absolute protection from one spouse being compelled to testify against the other.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Michael S. Edwards, Attorney at Law, PLLC | Mike Edwards
    The victim can give input, but the final decision on whether our not to proceed is up to the prosecutor. It usually helps when the victim is cooperative. The prosecutor then doesn't feel bad about giving the accused a break. However, the accused would still be wise to hire a good defense attorney!
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Darren Meyer, Attorney at Law | Darren Meyer
    It is completely within the discretion of the prosecuting attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    Its up to the DA to decide whether to ask the Judge to dismiss.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Myles Hahn III Attorney at Law | Myles Hahn III
    The State can proceed with prosecution even with a "reluctant witness". The witness must comply with subpoenae and answer questions truthfully in court.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Attorney Paul Stanko
    Attorney Paul Stanko | Paul Stanko
    All prosecutions are made in the name of the State of Indiana, and only the State of Indiana, through its prosecutors, determine whether charges will be dismissed before trial. As a practical matter, an uncooperative complaining witness (or alleged victim) will usually doom a prosecution to failure.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    William L. Welch, III Attorney | William L. Welch, III
    The exclusive decision whether to prosecute rests with the State's Attorney, regardless of what any witness, including the victim wants.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Ann Fitz, Attorney at Law, PC
    Ann Fitz, Attorney at Law, PC | Ann Fitz
    Only the district attorney can drop a charge. However, if the victim wants to drop the charge, the district attorney will take that into consideration and may drop the charge if there are no other witnesses available to testify if the case goes to trial or the case is otherwise weakened.

    For example, if it is a domestic violence assault and battery and the only witness to your actions was the victim, and then the victim decides that he/she wants to drop the charge and stops cooperating with the district attorney, then the prosecutor will have a problem proving the case and may have no other choice but to drop the charge.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Miller & Harrison, LLC
    Miller & Harrison, LLC | David Harrison
    The alleged victim is a witness and not the person that decides if charges continue or get dismissed.

    The prosecutor must seek the victims input on how they are going to handle the case, but do not have to do what the victim wishes.

    So, bottom line, the prosecutor, not the victim, decides if charges proceed.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    The Law Offices of Jaime Cowan
    The Law Offices of Jaime Cowan | Jaime Cowan
    Only the district attorney can drop charges regardless of what the victim wants.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Aaron Black Law
    Aaron Black Law | Aaron Black
    The District Attorney holds all the power. e #:
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Mary W Craig P.C. | Mary W Craig
    In cases other than domestic violence, if the complaining witness refuses to cooperate, the DA will usually drop the charges. However, in domestic violence cases, many DAs have a "no drop" policy, meaning that they will pursue the charges and subpoena the complaining witness to testify whether he or she wants to or not.

    Failure to appear and testify may result in a warrant for the complaining witness's arrest. If the witness appears and states that the statements she made in obtaining a warrant were false, then the court or DA can and probably will file perjury charges against the witness.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Germaine & Blaszka, P.A.
    Germaine & Blaszka, P.A. | Donald L. Blaszka, Jr.
    In NH, there are police prosecutors, County Attorney's Offices for each county and the Attorney General's Office - a "district attorney" does not exist. That being said, a victim cannot "drop" a criminal charge. Only the State as the prosecuting authority controls prosecution, never another person. A victim has the right to input pursuant to NH law but cannot control prosecution.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Office of Stuart M. Nachbar, P.C.
    Law Office of Stuart M. Nachbar, P.C. | Stuart M. Nachbar
    While the victim has a right to not testify, and has a duty to assist with the Prosecution, it is actually the Prosecutor who decides if the case will or not be dropped.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Law Office of Russell A. Warren
    Law Office of Russell A. Warren | Russell A. Warren
    The prosecuting attorney is the one who decides whether charges are to be issued or not. The victim may wish to drop charges and file an "affidavit of non-prosecution" with the office of the prosecuting attorney - but ultimately it's the prosecutor's decision.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Bruce Plesser | Bruce Plesser
    State attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/20/2012
    Matthew Cameron Attorney at Law
    Matthew Cameron Attorney at Law | Matt Cameron
    No, the Commonwealth brings the case, not the victim. If the evidence is sufficient to go forward without the victim's participation, it is very common for the D.A. to do so.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 8/20/2012
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney