What if I want to drop charges?
“I called the police, and now I don’t want to press charges. What can I do? How do I get the charges dismissed?”
The government presses charges, not private citizens.
Once the police are called, things are taken out of your hands. In Michigan, the government presses charges, not individual people. Under certain circumstances, all hope is not lost. It is possible if the victim or complainant wants to drop charges, but it won’t be easy.
A criminal defense attorney often hears that the victim wants to drop or not “press charges.” Witnesses come forward seeking to drop or dismiss charges most frequently in domestic violence cases. Once the police are called, any decision to pursue a case is up to law enforcement. Under Michigan law, the victim, also known as a complainant, becomes a witness, and the state or local community pursues the charges. Because the government has the exclusive power to bring or drop charges, a complainant or victim is powerless to stop a prosecution.
Why would a victim want to drop charges?
There are several reasons why a victim or complainant would want charges dismissed or dropped. In some situations, a victim is threatened or wants to drop charges because they fear repercussions or depend on the defendant for a home or livelihood. A prosecutor could not know for sure if a victim wants to drop charges because of a threat or other illicit reason. The government is reluctant to dismiss criminal charges because there is no definite way to know. In domestic violence cases, the government will rarely, if ever, dismiss charges because a victim recants or wants charges dropped.
A victim may want to drop charges because:
- the allegations are untruthful,
- the allegations are exaggerated,
- the victim may have been the aggressor,
- they may have initiated a false police report or
- because they changed their mind and now want to protect the defendant, or
- they are in fear of the defendant, friends, or family.
Victim’s Advocate Attorney
Although the prosecutor might act as the attorney for the victim, they are not. The prosecutor represents the government. The “victim” is a witness in the case. Ultimately, the prosecutor is duty-bound to make decisions in the best interest of the city they represent or the state of Michigan, not the victim or complainant. The victim has the right to hire their lawyer to advise them, answer questions, and represent them in court. Victims can retain some criminal defense lawyers as their personal Victim’s Advocate.
The allegations are false or exaggerated, so I want to drop the charges!
After filing a false police report or making untruthful allegations to the police, a victim’s conscience may motivate them to come forward and admit deceitful statements or omissions. Most prosecutors and police officers are out to get convictions. They are almost sure to disregard or disbelieve claims by a victim that they were untruthful or left out important information exonerating the defendant. The prosecutor will take any opportunity to threaten a complainant seeking to dismiss charges with a charge of filing a false police report. They may tell the person that if they testify that the incident didn’t happen or that it happened differently than it is characterized in the police report, they could be charged with perjury. If the complainant says they will not show up in court, the prosecution may indicate that they will seek a material witness warrant or assume that the defendant prevented that person from coming to court.
If a complainant or victim made a false police report or exaggerated the defendant’s actions, they may have a legal right to invoke their 5th Amendment right not to testify. It is always best for the complainant to consult with a privately retained lawyer under these circumstances.
False Allegations of Domestic Violence and Other Charges
Laws criminalizing and punishing criminal behavior, especially assaults, are essential; however, these laws can be abused. People make false reports of illegal activity to gain an advantage in civil cases, get the upper hand in divorce proceedings, or set up a claim for monetary damages. The most common reasons for false police reports are as follows:
- to get an advantage in a custody dispute in a family law case,
- to get money in a civil lawsuit or from restitution in a criminal case,
- out of vengeance or to hurt the defendant,
- mental illness,
- to avoid criminal charges for a crime committed by the complainant,
- to get access to a valuable asset or real property, like a home, and
- because of a genuine mistake or misunderstanding.
Attorneys For Getting Charges Dismissed or Dropped
LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is Michigan’s premier criminal defense law firm. It takes a seasoned, experienced attorney to convince a prosecutor that a case should be dismissed because the complainant wants to drop charges or the allegations are untrue. The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have persuaded prosecutors not to waste time and resources or that prosecuting a case is not in the community’s or the complainant’s best interest. It is essential to the firm’s attorneys that justice prevails. Our attorneys will do everything possible to expose the false allegations if the victim is prosecuting out of spite, anger, or another illegitimate reason. If you call us for a free consultation, we will take the time to talk with you, hear your whole story, and answer your questions. We will find a way to help you.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.