Can I Dismiss Charges for an Assault If I’m the Victim?
Sometimes altercations arise between a couples, friends, family members, or acquaintances. These altercations might turn physical, where one person is seriously injured by another. The victim of that assault might then wonder if they could request that the charges are dropped – meaning the prosecution does not move forward with the case.
The victim might go to the police or prosecutor and ask for them to drop the charges. Unfortunately, once charges are filed, a victim’s request holds little to no weight over whether the prosecutor will pursue the case or not.
What If the Albuquerque Victim Refuses to Testify?
The victim might refuse to testify. However, this is a common issue prosecutors see when dealing with gangs and other violent crimes. Therefore, a victim that refuses to testify will not result in the charges being dismissed. In most instances, the prosecutor has built their case on other evidence, because they know there is a risk that their victim will not come forward.
The defendant might try to use the opportunity of an uncooperative victim to have the charges dismissed. Sometimes, the prosecutor may have to dismiss charges if there is not enough evidence. But other times, the victim’s uncooperative behavior holds no value and the case continues.
To better answer the question, it comes down to the scenario, the reason for the assault charges, and the victim’s role in the arrest.
When the Victim Falsely Accuses the Defendant
Unfortunately, there are many instances where the victim falsely accuses the defendant. In a domestic violence situation, for example, one spouse might blame the other of physical violence to gain an edge in a custody case. Other times, a person can accuse someone of assault out of spite.
If the accusations were made falsely and the victim admits their falsehoods to the prosecution, then the charges are typically dismissed.
However, the victim might face criminal charges themselves in cases like these, Because they falsely accused someone of a crime, that could constitute filing a false police report.
When the Victim Requests the Charges Be Dismissed after a Disagreement
Here’s an example: Two family members, such as two brothers, engage in a fight. One calls the police and has his brother arrested. After the emotions have calmed, the “victim” brother realizes that he did not want his brother arrested for assault and that he perhaps called the police too early.
In these cases, the “victim” would have to tell the prosecutor this and possibly testify in front of the judge. As long as there is no coercion or history of violence, the judge may accept the request to dismiss the charges. However, the judge will want to ensure that the request is entirely voluntary, and they may want to ensure the offending brother is no harm to himself, his family, or others in the community.
In other instances, the judge may not listen to the sibling who accused the other of physical violence, and they may request that the case move forward.
When the Victim Recants Later, but the Evidence Says Otherwise
A victim might come forward, saying that they were not attacked or that they do not want the defendant charged. However, the prosecutor has evidence that a violent altercation occurred. For example, there are photographs of the injury and witnesses at the scene that can testify that an altercation occurred. In this case, the prosecution does not need the victim’s testimony nor would the victim requesting that the charges be dropped hold much weight, especially if the prosecution feels the defendant is a risk to the community.
When the Case Involves Domestic Violence
In domestic violence cases, the rules change considerably. The victim might request that the prosecution drop the charges, but it is unlikely to happen because they will assume that the victim is doing so out of fear or coercion.
Most jurisdictions, including Albuquerque, have a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence abuse. Therefore, they will prosecute those accused of domestic violence, regardless of whether the victim requests to drop the charges.
What Does a Prosecutor Do If the Victim Requests That They Drop Charges?
Realize that the victim does not “press charges.” Instead, it is the State placing blame on another party and pursuing action in criminal court. The victim does not have a say over how the case proceeds.
However, the state may decide that it is in the best interest of the court to reduce charges (compared to those originally brought when the victim requests that the charges are dropped). Other times, the prosecutor might offer a plea deal if the defendant agrees to one. It is also possible that the prosecution will heed the pleas of the victim and drop the charges, but this is rare.
Were You Falsely Accused of Assault or Feel You Should Not be Charged?
A disagreement that involves someone calling the police and you getting arrested can be life-altering. You will spend time in jail and possibly prison, depending on the charges you face.
While it is undesirable, the prosecution may move forward with the case even if you are innocent or the victim asks for the charges to be dismissed. The victim might be called as a “hostile witness,” and other evidence can be used against you. Prosecutors may continue to aggressively seek charges, especially if they believe that you are a criminal.
Therefore, the best thing you can do in a situation like this is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Even if you are innocent, you cannot rely on the victim admitting that they falsely accused you to get you out of jail.
Instead, you need a defense attorney with experience handling assault or battery cases here in New Mexico.
To explore your options, speak with a criminal defense attorney at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today. We offer free case evaluations and also emergency consultations, even if you have already been arrested or placed in jail.
Schedule your appointment with our legal team at 505-200-2982 or request more information online about our services.