Can Police Press Charges If Victim Doesn’t?

Can Police Press Charges If Victim Doesn't

Anybody cannot just wake up someday, remember someone who has in one time offended him or maybe even hurt him, and then inform the police to arrest the person and prosecutor also to charge the offender to court. It does not work that way. The officers will investigate the issue. Notwithstanding, a victim of a crime needs to press charges when he has suffered from an act or crime.

So, can police press charges if victim doesn’t? 

Several movies give the impression that everything goes back to normal after the victim of a crime declares he or she is not pressing any charge against the accused or suspects. However, can Police press charges if victim doesn’t? In reality, whether the victim presses charges or not, the police can investigate the matter and even take the suspect into their custody. From there, the prosecutor will take it up and can decide to charge the suspect with the crime.

There is more you need to know about this topic, so keep reading!

What Happens Before A Criminal Charge Takes Place?

A prosecutor refers to the lawyer who appears in court to solicit for a judgment that someone is guilty of an offense or crime. A defendant, on the other hand, refers to the person accused of a crime or offense. It is the prosecutor that stands against the defendant charged in courts.

After the victim of the crime has reported to the police and the police is at the crime scene, arresting the offender may be possible if the offender is still at the crime scene and also if the police have probable cause.

Probable cause is a belief beyond all doubt that a crime has taken place, and that the person about to be arrested committed the crime. In a case where the offender has left the crime scene, the police must get an arrest warrant from a judge or grand jury. However, the police must make sure all necessary information and pieces of evidence are available, as this will serve as the basis of the arrest warrant.

Creating a probable cause by the police can be established with the following;

  • Statement of the Victim
  • Statement and reactions of the people around the crime scene that will serve as witnesses
  • A physical injury on the victim
  • Physical traces of the incident at the crime scene
  • Lastly, and if possible, the statements of the accuser of the crime

A criminal complaint or other documents charged in court can also be filed and mailed to the defendant if the crime is a petty one.

The prosecutor can decide to dismiss any charges filed by the police or the offender, or he may choose to carry the case out in a lower Court where such lesser crimes face justice.

Not all investigations can lead to the charging of the accused to court. Sometimes it may be that the pieces of evidence were not substantial enough. It does not mean the person who reported is not the victim of the story or the police did not believe the story, but in some other lucky times, the investigation may be reopened and then will face justice in court.

What Should A Victim Do?

An accused is not innocent until he is proven guilty in court. The case can only get to court if the offender has criminal charges. A victim should understand that charging the accused may not require money. He or she will first apply to an Attorney.

According to the Crime Survival Resource Centre of Southern California, a victim of any crime should first establish safety for himself or herself by asking for help after finding a safe place. The victim should, after that, visit a nearby hospital immediately if he or she has secured an injury. Also, the police should contact the police directly.

The police must not tamper with the evidence at the crime scene. Also, it should not forget to document the details of how the incident happened. The documentation of a case should be exact and precise.

Where The Victim Does Not Want To Pursue The Matter

The police could continue to make its investigations and press charges even when the victim doesn’t. In the process, the police can call upon the victim to appear as a witness in court. The police have a warrant to arrest a victim that does not appear in court.

Not pressing charges by victims is very common in cases of domestic violence. Most times, the reason may be that the victim is being threatened or intimidated by the defendant, or maybe the victim may feel he or she has a lot to lose or if she presses the charges that will put a stop to their relationship.

Misdemeanor And Felony Crimes

There are two categories of crimes. The misdemeanor is said to be the lesser crimes, and the victims can invite prosecutors by themselves. In contrast, felony crimes are the more severe crimes that are handled by the state prosecutors, and the victims will be witnesses and have no say whether to press charges or not.

Examples of misdemeanor crimes are assaults, disturbing the peace of a public place, drug-selling or having drugs, indecent exposure of private parts of the body, theft, over-speeding, driving without a license, etc. Felony criminal offenses include murder, rape, arson, sale of illegal drugs, and Kidnapping.

Why Will A Victim Not Want To Press Charges?

Firstly, the question to answer is, What type of offense or crime did the accused commit? After explaining that, why does the victim not want to press charges?

Some crimes can be civil-wrongs, and some can be state wrongs. The civil-wrong is also a private-wrong. It is an offense done to a fellow citizen. For instance, Jay hit Danny’s car, and it got damaged. It is a private-wrong offense against Danny.

However, at the same time, the reason Jay hit Danny’s car was that Jay did not stop for a red traffic light. It is a state-wrong offense. It is a misdemeanor crime, and so Jay can get charged to court for disobeying the traffic rule.

Now, what will make Danny not to press charges against Jay?

Let’s say, for instance, the debt incurred by this accident is $50, and Danny has paid Jay a $50, it is legal, he has settled a civil case against him for the $50.

However, it can be a scam for Danny if nothing was documented as a piece of written evidence, as Jay can later come up with complaints that Danny fled the scene after the incident.

Now that is for the civil or private-wrong.

For the public-wrong, Jay ran through a red traffic light. For this crime, Jay cannot pay Danny not to press charges as it may be illegal.

Pressing charges is not Danny’s decision to make; it is only a Prosecuting Attorney that has the right to pursue the criminal action. Danny cannot stop the Attorney from prosecuting Jay, and the Attorney may ask Jay to pay a $50 fine to the government for running through a red traffic light. It is legal, and he may also tell Jay to pay some to Danny as he was affected by the crime committed.

Laying Charges By The Police

As has been explained earlier, not all investigations will lead to the arrest of a person. The accused will have information before the police take him to custody. But if the police cannot find an offender for the said crime or maybe the shreds of evidence are not strong enough to serve as a basis of the crime, the police will still inform the complainant.

What Do The Police Consider Before Laying A Charge?

In laying a charge, the police will consider if there is sufficient evidence to serve as a basis for the case in court. The argument is invalid if there is no solid proof of the fact, but in cases such as domestic violence or assault murder or rape, the police can lay charges whether the victim wants it or not.

When the police take the accused or the defendant to their custody, the police may ask the defendant to start appearing in court, and this is especially common for offenses.

The police may also arrest the defendant and release him or her on bail, so he has to be appearing in court on selected days. Also, the police may decide to hold the defendants in their custody and then make him appear in court, and this is usually within 24 hours of the arrest.


Once a person makes a complaint about being assaulted or his damaged property, the person becomes a “complainant.” This complainant loses his or her power in deciding the progress of the case in court.

It is prevalent in family violence where the victim will be afraid of losing his or her partner, believing no one will love him or her, or that he or she will pose as a wrong person. It is not in the hands of the complainant. If it is a state or government-owned case, the police will carry out an investigation and charge it to court through a prosecutor.

Can police press charges if victim doesn’t? Absolutely! In other words, a victim has little or no say in a reported case. It only lies with the prosecutor. The victim cannot determine what later happens with the case any longer. Whatever the victim had said might be used as evidence in the court of law.

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