Pressing Charges

In very basic and simple terms, yes, police can press charges even if a victim of the crime does not. Only an entity of the state, such as a law enforcement agency, can make an arrest and charge someone with a crime. A victim of a crime can report a crime to a law enforcement or other relevant government agency but they cannot force a government agency to arrest, charge or convict someone of a crime – even if that person directly harmed them in a criminal act. If someone from a government agency did not actually witness a crime they did

There are many different kinds of crimes and criminal charges. The specific details of even very similar crimes are rarely exactly the same. If you are the victim of a crime or if you are facing potential charges for one, a lawyer may be able to help you determine whether or not there is anything you can do to change the outcome of your situation.

Victims that Often Do Not Want to Press Charges

Victims of domestic violence often do not wind up wanting to press charges after an incident that the police were called for. It is common for other people, such as neighbors, family members and friends, to call the police when someone they know is being subjected to violence. It is also common for a victim of domestic abuse to call the police in a moment of desperation during an abusive episode. Regardless of who has made the call, very often, especially once things have settled down, the victim of domestic abuse will not want to press charges for various reasons. While they do not want to be abused, they do not want their partner to get into legal trouble. A dynamic that is often created in abusive situations is that the battered partner feels a need to protect their abuser.

Decisions on whether to charge a person with a crime are up to prosecutors who are employed by the state. The victim(s) of the crime do not get to charge the person who hurt them. Depending on the specifics of the situation, if there is only one victim of a crime and the victim makes it clear to the prosecutor that they do not want the prosecution to press charges and will not cooperate with, the prosecution may drop the charges but there is no guarantee that this will or will not happen.

In the past few decades, it was more common than in more recent years, for police to show up for a domestic violence call and to leave without pressing charges. The state and the law enforcement community take domestic abuse allegations very seriously now.

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