By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
In a criminal case in Texas — not directly. In a civil case — yes.
Assault charges can be brought two different ways in Texas — in a criminal court or (far less commonly) in a civil lawsuit. A civil lawsuit can be brought by the alleged victim to recover money while a criminal charge is brought by the State seeking a criminal conviction on the accused’s record. Civil cases can always be dropped by the person bringing the suit.
In a criminal action, the parties are the State of Texas and the accused. The victim is not directly a party to the action and is really more accurately characterized as a witness. An alleged victim can request that charges be dropped, but the prosecuting attorney does not have to honor that request.
Many prosecutors will ask an alleged victim for what is known as an “affidavit of non-prosecution” or an ANP for short if they don’t want to prosecute. An ANP is a statement under oath which details the reasons for their not wanting to prosecute.
An alleged victim has potential legal exposure for making a false police report in the event they admit statements on their ANP that are inconsistent with what they originally told police. For this reason, an alleged victim should seek counsel as well prior to doing an affidavit of non-prosecution (not the same lawyer defending the assault case — that would be a conflict of interest for the lawyer).
The Bottom Line
Assault cases — especially ones involving alleged family violence or spousal abuse — aren’t necessarily dismissed in Texas courts merely because the victim wants the case to be dismissed. The matters are complicated and the alleged victim should seek a lawyer in addition to the accused having a lawyer where the alleged victim is seeking to ask for charges to be dropped.
*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 is intended to be legal advice. For specific legal advice about any specific situation, you should consult an attorney directly.