How to drop charges against someone
If you filed a complaint against another individual you may one day have second thoughts about the case. You decide that you want to "drop charges" pending against that individual because of your complaint. There are certain steps to take in order to get these charges dismissed.
Keep in mind, though, that simply because you ask for charges to be dropped--a case to be dismissed--does not mean that such action will be taken.
Contact the appropriate prosecuting attorney's office. Depending on the type of case that is pending, you need to connect with the correct prosecuting attorney's office. For example, in a typical community, criminal cases are filed in municipal, country, district (state) or federal court. Less serious cases are in municipal court (where you have the best chance for dismissal); more serious cases are in federal court (where you have almost no chance for dismissal).
Schedule a meeting with a staff member at the prosecuting attorney's office. You may meet with the prosecuting attorney who is assigned to the case or with another individual who coordinates matters pertaining to victims and witnesses. Even if you initially are scheduled to meet with an attorney, the victim-witness coordinator likely will be involved in the discussion.
Make your presentation as forcefully as possible. The mere fact that you no longer want to see the individual prosecuted does not mean the case will be dropped. This is particularly true in cases of domestic violence. In fact, in many jurisdictions, a person who is the alleged victim of domestic violence will not be able to obtain a dismissal of the case at his or her request alone.
Present any supporting evidence pertaining to why you believe the case should not go forward. Evidence comes in the form of documents or statements made by other individuals who are either witnesses to the incident that started the case in the first place or that have other information relevant to the situation.
Answer questions directly and honestly. Odds are that either the prosecuting attorney or the victim-witness coordinator is going to pepper you with some tough questions. If you are sincere in your desire to have the case dropped, share your thinking and rationale in response to the questions that will be put to you.
- Criminal Procedure, Joel Samaha, 2007
- Cornell Law School, Criminal Procedure
- Keep in mind that if you take steps to have a case dismissed against another individual, you will not be able to return at a later date and seek to have that individual prosecuted again. Having charges filed against someone in the first place is serious business. Seeking to have them dismissed cannot be taken lightly either. Finally, from a legal standpoint, the decision to drop or pursue the case ultimately is not in your hands.