There is a popular misconception in criminal law as to who “presses charges” and who “decides to prosecute a case.” Our office receives a significant number of telephone calls from people charged with crimes such as domestic assault. Most of these people tell me that the victim pressed charges and is getting them dropped. This is simply not true. Criminal victims do not press charges and do not decide whether to prosecute people charged with a crime.
A criminal act such as domestic assault is considered a crime against the State. The State (hereinafter “prosecutor”) decides what charges to press and how the case is prosecuted. The victim may have input in regards to a plea agreement and restitution, but a victim does not have the authority to drop criminal charges; that decision lies solely with the prosecuting authority.
Prosecutors have wide discretion in determining what crimes to prosecute. Their discretion is based on a variety of factors including the victim’s cooperation and participation in the investigation and prosecution. Even if a victim does not want a case prosecuted, the State may still choose to proceed forward with the case.
It is important when you are charged with a crime in Minnesota that you get advice from an experienced attorney. The sooner you talk to an attorney, the better your chances that all of your options can be explored. At Bradshaw & Bryant, we have been helping people with all levels of charges from DUI and drug charges to physical assaults and homicides. We have put the time in to court to make a difference for you.