By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
A criminal prosecution is between the State of Texas and the accused. The victim or accuser is little more than a glorified witness. Just because a victim doesn’t want to press charges doesn’t mean the case goes away.
If The State Doesn’t Have to Drop the Charges — Then What Good Does it Do?
District and County attorneys are elected. This means they reply to citizen and voter demands (in theory). Most pride themselves in standing up for victims and making sure a victim in any case is satisfied. A prosector or police officer may very well drop a case in response to a request by an accuser to dismiss a case. Even if they don’t dismiss the case the prosecutor must factor how the accuser will look before the jury. A prosecutor would think twice before calling a reluctant witness who tells the truth yet assists the defense at every turn.
Why Wouldn’t a Prosecutor Drop the Charges Upon Request?
Prosecutors see many cases come across their desk. In state court, they see the same cases over and over whether they be assaults, theft, DWI or drugs. Some get in the routine of comparing one case to another as instead of evaluating each case in a vacuum. In their defense, there is nothing wrong with their world view.
What this means is they might tend to compare victims against one another as unfair as that may should. Also, some prosecutors simply believe every accuser who comes forth to drop charges is being forced to do so — or is otherwise doing so because they are weak, intimidated or can’t stand up for themselves.
I Told them I want the Charges Dropped and they Won’t. What Should I Do Now?
Again, most prosecutors really do want to make a victim or accuser happy. Getting complaints from victims is worse for them then losing a case. It doesn’t hurt to have an open and honest dialogue with a prosecutor if your goal is to have either charges dropped, a person to be dealt with leniently, or for a person to get a specific type of help for that matter.
Do I Need a Lawyer if I’m Trying to Drop Charges?
Normally, no. If you are going to be discussing the facts of a case with police or prosecutors, however, you can be prosecuted for a false police report if you make statements which are materially different. If you have concerns about statements you’ve made to the police then its not a bad idea to visit with a lawyer before re-visiting with them. Obviously you should always be honest with both police and prosecutors at all times.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article should be considered as legal advice. For legal advice about any situation you should talk with an attorney directly.