The victim may tell the prosecutor that he does not want to prosecute, but the alleged victim does not have the right to drop the charges. The prosecutor must drop the charges or continue the case.
Police can press charges even if the victim of a crime does not want to. This is done in order to protect the victim from hazards that may arise from pressing charges themselves. Moreover, some victims may be too distraught to pursue charges. However, most cases require victim cooperation in order to resolve successfully.
If the alleged victim refuses to cooperate and the evidence is weak, the prosecutor may drop a criminal charge. The prosecutor may also decide to file a case even if the victim asks the police or the prosecutor not to do so.
The victim cannot force or require the prosecutor to proceed with the case, but the prosecutor is more likely to initiate prosecution if the victim cooperates. The willingness of victims to testify and cooperate with police and prosecutors can be critical in a case against the accused.
Prosecutors May Persist without the Victim’s Consent
For example, in the case of domestic violence or assault, even if the victim does not want to “file a complaint”, the prosecutor can still decide to continue without the cooperation of the victim. Police may arrest a person for domestic violence even if the alleged victim does not want to file a complaint. The police may arrest the alleged assailant even if the victim does not wish to file a complaint when the police believe that a crime has been committed.
In fact, the police can investigate the case and even detain the suspect whether or not the victim complains. Even if the victim doesn’t cooperate and says they don’t want to file a complaint or make a statement, the police will still make an arrest if they have evidence of a crime, such as a statement from a neighbor or witness.
In the real world, if police suspect a crime, they will investigate and arrest the suspect without hesitation, even if the victim makes it clear that they do not want to file a complaint. Prosecutors typically do not bring charges if the victim asks prosecutors not to bring charges and makes it clear that they will not cooperate.
Consult with Attorneys before Acting on a Victim’s Behalf
If you are accused of domestic violence and you have reason to believe that the alleged victim does not want to prosecute, file a complaint, or cooperate with the prosecutor, consult with an attorney. You might think that if the alleged victim of your domestic violence case doesn’t want to file a complaint (or be held accountable), you’ll be safe.
If you have been charged with domestic violence in Pinellas County and you believe that the alleged victim is unwilling to prosecute, you may be under the (incorrect) impression that the charges will be dropped. If you, as the victim, change your mind about the complaint and no longer wish to testify against the defendant, the Crown Prosecutor can still sue and force you to answer questions about the crime.
Once law enforcement and the justice system are involved, the victim does not have the right to withdraw charges or refuse to file a domestic violence complaint. In other cases, the victim may file a police report claiming that a crime has been committed against her. In some cases, the victim may want to initiate criminal proceedings, but the prosecutor may determine that no crime was committed or that there is insufficient evidence for a trial, even if there is evidence from the victim.
Prosecutors may try to convince a judge or jury that the defendant committed the crime without the victim being present or testifying. Prosecutors need the victim’s testimony to convince the judge that the accused has committed a crime.
The Victim’s Testimony may be Required
The claim against the accused may be based on the testimony of the victim. The prosecutor may use statements made by police officers or an emergency medical operator to challenge the testimony of victims if they change their version at the scene of the testimony.
The prosecutor may also use the alleged victim’s pre-arrival to challenge evidence in court if the alleged victim attempts to change their story while testifying in court. If the prosecutor believes that the victim needs protection, or that the defendant may attempt to commit the alleged crime again (for example, based on a criminal record), he or she may try to persuade the victim to testify by informing the victim that the victim must appear.
Be aware that if the victim gives inconsistent testimony from previous inconsistent statements they have previously made to the police, the prosecutor is likely to prosecute them for their previous inconsistent statements.
Victim Cooperation may also be Required
At first glance, it is natural to think that if the victim does not testify or does not want to bring charges, then the charges will be dropped or the accused will be acquitted. In such a situation, the prosecutor will refuse to initiate a criminal case, both in the interests of justice and because it would be a waste of resources (time and money) to charge that person with a crime, even if the initial arrest was valid.
Lack of cooperation from the victims may result in the prosecutor dropping the case. It can be seen that if the victim does not cooperate, this may well mean that they are not interested in filing a complaint or prosecuting the case. Sometimes, especially if the defendant has been a victim of domestic violence in the past, even if the victim tells the prosecutor that they do not want to prosecute, the prosecutor may still decide to proceed with the case.
For example, if the alleged victim calls the police at the scene of a domestic dispute or goes to the police station to file a formal complaint regarding domestic violence, the victim has clearly made criminal charges arising from it. For example, if the police are called because of a domestic disturbance and upon arrival find broken furniture, a hole in the wall, and a victim with visible injuries, there is probably a reason for an arrest, even if the victim asks the police not to do so.