Many types of crimes have victims. Whether the charge is larceny, assault and battery or domestic violence, many crimes have individual victims. The victim is a critical and central part of any criminal charge in Pennsylvania. They’re often the key witness in the case. Can a victim drop criminal charges in Pennsylvania? Our criminal defense attorneys explain.
No, a victim cannot drop charges in Pennsylvania. The state’s attorney makes the decision about whether to bring criminal charges. The victim doesn’t have the ability to decide to drop the charges. Instead, only the state attorney, also called a prosecutor or district attorney, makes the decision about whether to press criminal charges. In order to have the case dismissed, the state attorney must move the court for a dismissal of the case. The victim themselves cannot drop the charges in Pennsylvania.
Dropping charges for domestic violence
Dropping charges for domestic violence isn’t as simple as making a phone call to the district attorney. The district attorney has independent discretion about whether to bring criminal charges. The victim is a witness in the case. They may be the one who makes the complaint, and they may also provide critical testimony to the case. However, it’s not up to the victim about whether to proceed with the charges. The state attorney makes the decision to continue with the charges or dismiss them.
Who brings domestic violence charges?
A domestic violence charge typically begins when someone calls the police. Of course, the police can happen upon the scene on their own. However, especially for domestic violence cases, most cases begin when someone makes a report to law enforcement. The police respond to the scene and investigate.
Pennsylvania domestic violence laws allow the police to make an arrest on the scene. They don’t have to witness the domestic violence occur. However, they need to have at least some corroborating evidence of the assault and the truth of the allegations. If the police believe domestic violence occurred, they have the legal authority to make an arrest. The victim doesn’t decide whether or not the defendant gets arrested.
From there, the case goes to the district attorney. Even after an arrest, the district attorney can decide not to press charges. In that situation, the defendant is simply released. While the district attorney can seek input from the victim about their wishes for charges, ultimately, the attorney for the state makes the final decision.
How our criminal defense attorneys can help
A person who is facing domestic violence charges has the right to present a defense. They have the right to representation of a criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense attorney can help you appropriately question the victim and challenge the charges. There are many defenses for domestic violence charges, and your legal team can help you assert the best defenses as appropriate.
If you’re facing criminal charges, you have rights. Call us today for a free consultation. Your call is confidential. Let’s fight together for your rights. Call today.