Can I be Charged with a Crime if the Alleged Victim Doesn’t Want to Press Charges?
Simply put . . . yes. A common misconception is that the alleged victim of a crime has the final say as to whether charges are filed. Although the wishes of an alleged victim are often taken into account, ultimately it is up to law enforcement as to whether they will forward charges to the county prosecutor’s office for approval and formal filing with the Court. That being said, there are some ways that an alleged victim can impact the overall outcome of a case.
Indiana Code Sections 35-38-1-8.5 and 35-40-6-4 govern the involvement of alleged victims in criminal proceedings. In summary, these laws state the alleged victim must be given notice of plea agreements as well as the opportunity to speak to the court on whether they approve or disapprove of a plea agreement that the accused has accepted. It is important to understand that a prosecutor only has an obligation to inform an alleged victim of the terms of a particular plea agreement; they are not obligated to follow the alleged victims wishes as to how a case should be resolved. Similarly, the court can take the alleged victim’s statement under advisement, but the final decision as whether a particular plea is accepted is left to Court’s discretion.
Even though an alleged victim can’t control how the prosecutor handles the case, in situations where the alleged victim does not cooperate with the prosecution, they can make it significantly more difficult for the State to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. For instance, if the charges are based primarily on the alleged victims testimony as to what happened without any other meaningful, independent evidence that the accused committed a crime, then the absence of the alleged victims testimony can make it very difficult for the State to obtain a conviction at trial. Conversely, if there is compelling evidence that the accused committed a crime and the alleged victim’s testimony is more or less supplemental to an otherwise strong case, then the fact that an alleged victim does not want to cooperate in the prosecution of the case may not make a difference in the outcome.
It is important to remember that the effect an uncooperative alleged victim has on an accused’s case is extremely fact specific. For that reason, it is important that if you are charged with a crime that you don’t just hire any attorney, but that you hire an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney.
Attorney Michael A. Campbell with Campbell Law, P.C. is an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes through all stages of litigation in both federal and state court throughout Northwest Indiana and the Chicagoland area.
Call Attorney Michael A. Campbell today for a FREE comprehensive case consultation.