The entertainment industry loves to repeat the idea of reported victims having the ability to drop charges. Seemingly, it is the victim that holds all the cards in a criminal justice proceeding, where they can unilaterally decide whether someone is prosecuted for reported Warrenton, Virginia, criminal activity. Is this true?
Can a reported victim drop charges?
No. The power that a victim has is to file a police report, participate in an investigation and then, participate as a witness in the accused criminal proceeding. The victim does not get to decide whether the authorities will go forward with prosecuting the accused.
Can the police drop the charges?
No. After charges are filed, even the police lose their ability to drop charges. They only have the power to elect to file or not file the initial charges, after investigating the crime. However, they are not supposed to charge anyone until they have enough evidence to prove the alleged crime occurred and by the reported person beyond a reasonable doubt. Virginia police can, of course, fail in this duty.
What happens next?
After someone is charged, the case file is then handed over to the prosecutor, who will then go through the case and evidence to ensure that the alleged crimes can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Depending on the jurisdiction, the decision on whether to charge is made by a grand jury. Though, the ultimate decision on whether to maintain charges, lower charges, add charges or drop charges is made by the prosecutors themselves (in consultation with their bosses).
How can charges be dropped?
Your Warrenton, Virginia, defense attorney can make a case before the prosecutors on how the charges are not warranted. This can lead to charges being lessened or dropped. The alleged victim can also ask that the charges be dropped, which can also lead the prosecutor to lessen or drop charges. However, again, the ultimate decision is the prosecutors.
Can I do anything?
Unfortunately, no. At this point, your best bet is to follow whatever advice your criminal defense attorney gives you. The attorney is in the best position to help you and following their advice will put you in the best position possible.