Can a Victim Refuse to Press Charges in NYC?

Can a Victim Refuse to Press Charges in NYC?

You see it on television all the time. A cop turns to a victim and says, “Would you like to press charges?”

The victim stares grimly ahead, and then gives a headshake. “No. Not this time. Thank you, officer.”

Does this ever happen in real life? Can victims really drop charges? What does it mean to drop a charge, and what really happens when a charge gets dropped?

What are dropped charges?

There are two types of dropped charges.Charges dropped “with prejudice” means the state can’t bring the same charges against you for the same crime ever again. However, they can charge you for a similar crime that happened on a different date, even if the same victim is involved.

That is, if they drop the charges with prejudice against you for robbing Store A in March they can’t come back and charge you again for the same crime.  They can, however, charge you with robbing Store B in April.

If they drop the charges “without prejudice” then they are reserving their right to come and press charges again if they find additional evidence strengthening their case against you. At times, DAs opt for this option, but they rarely press charges again after that. That’s because there’s rarely any additional evidence for them to find, and there are thousands of cases vying for their attention at any given time.

Once charges get dropped there is no criminal record, no case, no trial unless the DA brings charges against you again.

Who can drop charges?

A dropped charge is the absolute best outcome for your case, but victims can’t make it happen. Police may use their discretion at the moment of the incident to avoid making an arrest, and may call that “deciding not to press charges,” but the truth is the cops make the decision. Once they do, only the prosecutor can drop charges on your case.

This is because when you break the law in New York, you are committing a crime against the state. The victim is a witness, but does not hold the ultimate power to decide whether a case is dismissed.

How does an NYC defense lawyer convince a DA to drop charges against you? 

There are three defenses that may get charges dropped.

The first is to demonstrate that law enforcement obtained evidence against you by performing an illegal search. The second is by demonstrating they got that evidence without having any probable cause to search you or stop you. Finally, your attorney can show prosecutors don’t have enough evidence to charge you with the crime.

Either way, getting charges dropped starts with calling an experienced NYC defense lawyer to help you with your case.

See also:

What is the Definition of Police Misconduct in NYC? 

5 Dumb Moves to Avoid When You’re Facing Criminal Charges in NYC

Should You Accept? The Advantages and Disadvantages of Plea Bargaining