Despite what you see on TV, not all criminal cases lead to trials. Most defendants strike a plea bargain to get a lesser sentence. In other instances, prosecutors decide to drop charges. Here, you’ll learn some of the reasons why charges are dropped.
Who Has the Authority to Drop Charges?
Contrary to popular belief, victims do not have the legal authority to drop charges. Victims can only file complaints and testify against perpetrators. It’s the government’s responsibility to file charges. Typically, charges are brought by the attorney general, district attorney, or another local authority. The office bringing the charges can drop them if they choose to do so, and victims can only request that charges be dropped.
Why Victims Drop Charges
In many cases, victims have a change of mind about filing a complaint that leads to charges.
Below are some of the reasons a victim may withdraw a complaint.
- They are afraid of the perpetrator
- They may have feelings for the accused and want to stay in a relationship (common in domestic cases)
- The victim may have accused the wrong person
If you are a crime victim who wants to drop charges, you will need to speak with the case’s prosecuting attorney, but if you’re radically changing your side of the story, you may face charges yourself and you’ll be the one needing a defense lawyer in Hyde Park.
Why Charges Are Dropped by the Prosecution
If a victim doesn’t want to cooperate, the prosecutor may have no choice but to drop charges. However, dropping the charges may have nothing to do with the victim’s opinion. Charges are often dismissed when witnesses come forward, contradicting the current testimony. If the defense has sufficient evidence to sway the jury, or if the prosecution’s case is weak, charges may be dropped.
If new evidence is found that proves the defendant’s innocence, or if evidence has been tossed out of court, the case cannot move forward. Alternatively, a prosecutor can drop severe charges in exchange for a suspect’s guilty plea on a lesser charge. If you are facing criminal charges and want to get them dropped, consult a criminal defense lawyer in Hyde Park, such as John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr., who can review paperwork and evidence to mount a good defense.
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