Criminal offenses that affect another’s person – i.e., murder, rape, kidnapping, battery (including domestic battery) – are typically investigated and prosecuted more aggressively than crimes that do not result in any physical or emotional harm to the victim. Prosecutors may be less inclined to enter into plea agreements with defendants charged with injuring or killing another person, meaning that the defendant must be prepared to mount an aggressive defense.
But in some criminal cases, the victim of the crime may either “forgive” the defendant or communicate that he or she does not wish to see the defendant prosecuted. If you are involved in this type of situation, this can have an affect the prosecutor’s decision on whether to pursue charges against you.
Suppose that during a heated argument one night your spouse calls the police. Officers respond and, after an investigation, decide to arrest you on domestic violence-related charges. Shortly thereafter, the prosecutor formally charges you with one or more domestic violence-related offenses. Suppose further that, after being served with the formal complaint, the victim – your spouse – apologizes and wishes “everything could just go away.”
Prosecutors will take a victim’s desires concerning how he or she wishes for the criminal case against you to be resolved. But the victim’s desires are not controlling on the prosecutor: your spouse, for example, cannot have the charges filed against you dismissed. This is a decision that only the prosecutor can make.
A number of factors can be considered by a prosecutor who is deciding whether to dismiss your case. Your criminal history, the harm or “re-victimization” of the victim that may occur from compelling him or her to testify against you and against his or her wishes, the strength and availability of other evidence to support the charges, and the likely sentence you would receive if convicted can all be material and relevant to a prosecutor’s decision. You and/or your attorney will be in a much stronger position to request a dismissal if you can establish that the likely outcome of your case would not justify the time and expense necessary to prove your guilt if the victim is unwilling to cooperate.
Be very careful when you are communicating with the victim in your case about dropping the charges against you. In most criminal cases, the court enters an order forbidding contact, directly or through third party, with the victim. Doing so may be considered victim or witness tampering or intimidation, which is a separate, serious offense. If your victim desires to request that the prosecutor drop the charges against you, he or she should communicate that desire directly to the prosecutor without any prompting or direction from you. If an attorney represents you, it is acceptable for your attorney to speak with the victim and relay the victim’s desires to the prosecutor.
Do not make the mistake of thinking you can handle your criminal case alone because the victim wants the charges dropped. Even in these situations, there can be complex legal issues that must be carefully navigated in order to achieve your desired outcome. Contact the Michigan criminal defense lawyers at Van Den Heuvel Law Office for assistance in achieving a favorable outcome in your case. You can reach them at (616) 698-0000 or by contacting the Van Den Heuvel Law Office online.
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